How to rest and play: A guide for grownups

Mandy Arioto

Mandy Arioto  (Zondervan)

Editor's  note: The following column is excerpted from Mandy Arioto's "Starry Eyed: Seeing Grace in the Unfolding Constellation of Life and Motherhood" (Zondervan, August 30, 2016).

Sometimes I don’t realize what a hectic pace I keep until I lounge in my jammies for a morning, while the house is so quiet I can actually hear my own heart beating.

Finding a healthy rhythm in our lives is essential for resetting our equilibrium. When we don’t rest, it is often because we have come to believe that the entire world rests on our shoulders. Our to-do list controls our pace. But sometimes we need a break from the churning of life’s priorities to find the rhythm that uniquely suits our soul.

I am an introvert who comes from a faith tradition that admires people who can sit still and be quiet for a long time.

When we don’t rest, it is often because we have come to believe that the entire world rests on our shoulders.

I love spending time by myself in quiet and could convince myself that this is my rest language—but the truth is, it usually isn’t good for me. I am better around people who can remind me who I am.

I think sometimes we need to hear, “Be still and quiet.” And I think sometimes we need to hear, “Go play and be with people.”

When we understand that rest isn’t just silence and solitude but rather anything that gives us life, it makes the concept of slowing down so much less threatening.

Let me offer a few thoughts that might spark ideas on how to rest and play:

Start doing things you love to do. An acquaintance recently asked me what my hobbies are. I had no answers. So I started thinking about what kind of hobbies I would like to have. Then I thought back to the things I was drawn to as a kid, because I believe that some of our birthright gifts are evident even as kids. When I was a child, I loved to dance, so I have decided to start taking dance lessons as a Sabbath practice. Now I know this sounds ridiculous to some of you who have really littles at home and are so exhausted that you can barely make yourself a cup of coffee in the morning. To you I say: your hobby is sleep. There will be time for other life-giving activities later.

Make a list. Every month, my family makes a list of “play day” activities to do together. We usually come up with a handful of ideas, and then on the days we have set aside for play we refer to our list. This helps eliminate the “what should we do?” dilemma. This particular month, we want to go horseback riding, eat cannolis, build a snow igloo, and take our dogs for a long hike.

Redefine your understanding of rest. This one might hurt a little. Maybe we need to recalibrate our understanding of rest. You guys, we are on our devices. All. The. Freaking. Time. The problem is that rest isn’t binge watching TV; it isn’t checking out for hours on end. Distractions are different than rest. I can spend an hour looking at BuzzFeed on my phone, but that doesn’t give me life. It distracts me from life. Rest is participating in things that are rejuvenating. Make a list of the distractions you choose and analyze whether they are contributing to your own soul care or just delaying it.

Sync with the rhythms of nature. Sometimes we need a break in a beautiful place to figure everything out. The voice of nature is what I prefer. When is the last time you walked around barefoot? Or grabbed a blanket and laid out under the stars? Maybe nature is where you will get in touch with the rhythms of the universe. Get outside and walk in the mud. Forget about the laundry. Seriously. It is never going to be finished. That is the truth. Let it pile up for a day. It will be waiting for you after you have rested.

Mandy Arioto is the President and CEO of MOPS International, and is widely known for her unique takes on parenting, relationships, spiritual, and cultural issues. Through MOPS, which influences millions of moms through thousands of groups internationally, Mandy serves as the voice of one of the most influential parenting organizations in the U.S. and around the world. Prior to joining MOPS International, Mandy was a preaching pastor at Mosaic, a church based in Southern California. Mandy’s debut book Starry-Eyed: Seeing Grace in the Unfolding Constellation of Life and Motherhood is releasing from Zondervan on August 30, 2016