Cultivating a Lifestyle of Rest

The importance of learning to slow down in a fast-paced world.

Sleep is a very important thing. I say that with confidence. More importantly, I say this from personal experience. Years ago I was a young, passionate and unbalanced entrepreneur with no boundaries. I did not believe in sleep. In fact, I preached that lack of sleep was a badge of honor. I thought it was commendable and praiseworthy. However, I soon learned just how wrong I was. After much neglect, I finally reached my breaking point and that is when everything about my life changed. I found myself at the point of exhaustion. I was not getting enough sleep, I was irritable and I was stressed out like you would not believe. My stress level was so high that I became greatly concerned about my health. It was in that moment that I decided that I needed to make some major changes in my life. I realized that sleep was not just important. Rest was vital to my longevity and my success. I want to share a few of the changes I made during that time.

  1. Sleep must be prioritized in your life. Before my wake up call, my sleep schedule varied greatly. I am an entrepreneur and often my creative juices would really start flowing really late at night. I would attempt to sleep; however, I would find myself up working on ideas and projects for my business. It was fun at first but then I realized that I had formed a really bad habit. Also, I started to realize that I was barely getting any sleep. I am not against being creative or being productive. However, when you get so focused on your business that you are not resting, you are headed for a major crash. That time in my life taught me that I had to make sleep a priority in my life. In other words, I had to adjust my schedule. Then, I had to make a decision that I would cut off business at a certain time. Furthermore, I had to establish that I would be in the bed every night by a certain time. It was very challenging at first but establishing clear priorities is key to breaking cycles in your life.
  2. Your environment must be conducive for sleep. Often times we convince ourselves that we are going to sleep. However, the environment around us does not accommodate sleep. What do I mean by this? First of all, you cannot say you are going to sleep with your cell phone in the bed with you. Honestly, the moment you bring your cell phone into the bed you are tempted. I know for me the moment I bring my cellphone into the bed I start to check emails, read articles, search for information and start surfing the web. Therefore, I set clear boundaries and declared my bed a no cell phone zone. In addition, I made a decision that my iPad would not be allowed in the bed with me. I believe that the bed was made for sleep. You cannot truly rest until you disconnect from technology and all forms of distractions. Only when you make the decision to unplug can you truly rest and recharge. Refuse to allow technology to take over every aspect of your life.
  3. Your mind must be relaxed in order to rest. I had to overcome a lot of distractions in order to rest. Personally, I have always had a challenge turning my thoughts off when I am trying to sleep. In fact, at one time I would lay in the bed for hours thinking of things that I needed to do, emails I needed to send or problems that I needed to solve. It was frustrating and it made it almost impossible for me to sleep. One of the ways that I overcame this habit was by creating to-do lists. Everyday I write out a to-do list of the most important things that I need to get done that day. As I wind down for the evening, I review that list and then I create my to-do list for the next day. This gives me peace of mind and also allows me to assess how productive I was that day. You will be amazed at how this will reduce stress and relax your mind. You cannot embrace rest when the mind is racing. You want your mind to be clear and your heart centered as you get ready for bed.
  4. You need to assess how much sleep you need. Not every person will require the same amount of sleep. However, it is important for you to know how much sleep you need to be rested and bring your best to every single day. Personally, I need at least seven hours in order to be fully rested. When I am not rested I find myself being irritable, impatient and disoriented. More importantly, when I am not rested it is difficult for me to concentrate, be creative or be an effective problem solver. The amount of sleep you get has a lot to do with your focus, productivity, creativity, patience, emotional stability and so much more. It is impossible for you to be effective when you are tired. When I reached the point of burnout it was a dangerous feeling. I felt like I was losing control of my life and everything was out of balance. Rest is important because it empowers you to produce your best and it brings much needed balance to your life. It is one thing to be functioning and exhausted. On the other hand, it is another thing to be rested and recharged. You will never truly thrive as long as you are always tired. My goal is not just to sleep at this point in my life. My ultimate objective is to rest. Rest is the only way that your life will ever stay in rhythm.
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