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Learn how to rest

I’ve recently contacted a few old friends to find out how they are, and to catch up on some news. I’ve not seen some of them in a number of years, and much has taken place during that time for each of us. What struck me though, is that all of us remarked on how busy life has become, and how little time there appears to be for meaningful rest.

It is sometimes difficult to admit that one needs rest, but the truth is that we all do. Our boys definitely need a break after what has been a very full and busy term. They need time to switch off, play, catch up with their friends, and spend some solid, unhurried time with family.

I find it very encouraging that a time for rest is something that is very much a part of the natural rhythm of life. It is written into the very fabric of creation, and in Genesis we read that even God rested on the seventh day.

There are various forms of rest, and it is important for us to build an element of rest into our lives to avoid burnout and fatigue. It is essential that we teach our children how to manage their lives in such a manner that they are able to avoid what has become a far too common state of affairs for many people.

Physical rest can be either passive or active. It may include activities like having a nap, or being still and reading a book quietly, or participating in some form of gentle exercise. The time away from doing what one would normally do can act as a form of rest.

Mental rest is also extremely important. We can sometime find ourselves never feeling like we’re getting enough sleep as a result of not being able to switch off at night. This could be a sign that you are mentally tired, and that you need to build short mental breaks into your day. I often suggest this to boys who come for a chat, and encourage them to perhaps sit by the fishpond for five minutes during break, to give themselves an opportunity to recharge mentally. Practising the discipline of mindfulness regularly can also help one feel a bit more mentally energised.

With the use of technology being so ubiquitous nowadays, it is very important to build in time to take breaks from the use of screens. So much of what we do is now dependent on our use of technology, but all the background noise, beeps, and flashing lights constantly demand something from us. There is no such thing as an urgent e-mail or text message (that’s what phone calls are for), and we need to give ourselves a chance to break away from the tyranny of the urgent.

A type of rest that is particularly effective for children is creative rest. Allowing our children to be bored (taking away their devices and not actively entertaining them), and encouraging them to play outdoors when the weather is good, is a helpful way to foster creative play, and re-instilling a bit of child-like awe of the world around them. Teaching children to turn to music or an appreciation of the arts is also a great way to engage them creatively, and to nurture some conversation around healthy topics.

Emotional rest is also vital, especially for those whose jobs require that they engage with people a lot. If you are constantly giving of yourself, extra measures should be put in place for you to recharge emotionally. This may mean some quiet time by yourself (if that invigorates you), or spending time with a close friend, and having a meaningful conversation. This looks different for all of us, but finding that which recharges us emotionally is incredibly important to the longevity of whatever role we fulfil.

And lastly, but certainly not least, is spiritual rest. We all need to feed our souls, and again, this will differ for each of us. A long walk in the woods, or a sunrise swim in the ocean may be just the thing that feeds you spiritually. For others, it may take the shape of engaging in your local place of worship, or helping out at a community centre. Whatever looking after yourself spiritually looks like, it is very important to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves.

As we head off on our Easter holidays, may we all take some time to engage in some of these forms of rest, and may we return to school for the Summer Term full of vim and vigour!

Craig Cuyler
Assistant Deputy Head/Director of Wellbeing
Head of PSHEe/Deputy DSL/ Assistant Housemaster

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