It’s Sunday.  How will you make it a “day of rest”?

What does “rest” mean in your busy world?

Does rest mean you had a good night’s sleep?  Does it mean you slept long enough to wake up refreshed and without bags under your eyes?

We usually think of rest in terms of our physical body.  When we say we’re rested we usually mean we aren’t sleepy and our bodies are not physically tired or sore from too much effort.

However, “rest” applies to all the other aspects of life, too: mind, emotion and spirit.

How do you rest your brain?

If you care for an MS patient who is experiencing cognitive symptoms you may be using your mind for two people.  You use it for yourself, of course, but you may also find yourself sharing your brain:  remembering things or completing the sentences of the one for whom you care.  Cognitive difficulties in MS patients most often occur in the areas of memory, attention and reasoning.

As early as 1951, A.H. Canter published “Direct and indirect measures of Psychological deficit in Multiple Sclerosis” in the Journal of General Psychology (44:3-50).  He compared the test scores of recently diagnosed MS patients on the Army General Classification Test with the scores from four years earlier when they took the test as healthy soldiers.  Canter noted a significant decrease in the test scores.

Rest for your brain probably means you give it a break by not thinking too strenuously.  Lay in the grass and watch the clouds, sit on the porch with a cup of coffee and watch 2 dozen hummingbirds frolic around the feeders (Thanks, Dad!), take a walk around the block, or get lost in a good story.

How do rest your emotions?

An odd concept, to be sure, but is it possible to rest your emotions?  One might joke that apathy is the best way to rest one’s emotions.

And joke it may be, but there may be something to it.

Caregivers experience a variety of emotions and do so at frequently changing levels of intensity.  We usually mean someone doesn’t care when we say they’re apathetic.  What apathy really means is that one is without pathos or emotion.

If you’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions this week, perhaps making today a “day of rest” might include a little apathy, a period of no emotion.  Personally, I can be emotionless about a game of solitaire.

Does the idea of choosing a period of apathy make you feel guilty?  Don’t worry.  After the solitaire game is over, the emotions will be there.  A brief period of apathy doesn’t mean you do not care.  It’s means you’re taking care of your own emotional health.

Finally, how do you rest your spirit?

In an earlier post I mentioned Spiritus vertiginis, the dizzy spirit related to anxiety.  Reading Scripture helps my spirit rest.

I read the 6 verses of Psalms 23 nearly every day:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

It varies by circumstance, but on most days the phrase “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me” is the part I find most helpful.  The idea that God’s mercy chases after me feels good.

Sometimes the hardest part of making Sunday a day of rest is the act of stopping and letting God’s mercy catch me.

Caregiver Tip:  Rest is important.  Find what works for you to give your body, mind, emotions and spirit rest.  It may be as simple as stopping and letting Grace surround you.

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