Last fall, when I went into the doctor for what I thought was an ear infection, it turned out I had shingles. I can’t even describe the pain. It covered the whole right side of my head from my eyebrow, all the way up over my head, into my ear, and down my neck. The constant ache was excruciating, but the stabbing knife-pain that happened at random intervals was nearly unbearable.
I spent a lot of time in bed during those few weeks. Not as much as I probably should have, seeing as I homeschool four children and they still needed 3 meals a day and clean clothes to wear, but nonetheless, my body forced me to rest.
Rest was non-negotiable until the shingles were diagnosed and I was able to get on some medication that slightly took the edge off the pain. Then the next few days, rest was most welcome as my body began the healing process. I was able to journal, read, ponder, pray, listen to General Conference talks and the scriptures more than I had in months! I felt spiritually strong, emotionally refreshed, and mentally alert. My body had been running for so long, rushing around in constant busyness, that resting felt like I was visiting a long-lost friend.
But after the first week, resting became rather boring. I was tired of reading, my mind was journaled out, and I longed to get up and actually do something. I did the basics of caring for my family, but I still lacked enough stamina to tackle any large projects that weren’t absolutely necessary.
The lesson was crystal-clear: both rest and action are crucial to our well-being. Too much busy action wearies the body and mind. But too much rest is dull and monotonous. And while it may be impossible to balance out these virtues of rest and work, we must be careful not to tip the scales too far in the direction of one side or the other for too long.
Are you overworked, stressed, anxious, and run-down? Or on the flip side, are you under-motivated, stuck in a rut, or feeling sluggish? How can you tell if you are tipping too far to the one side or the other?
I have two fool-proof ways to tell:
1-Listen to your Body
If you tune into how your body and mind feel, you will find them to be quite accurate judges. If you are feeling tired, sick, fatigued, strung-out, frazzled, out of sorts, or ungrounded, chances are you need a rest day. Book it in your calendar, cancel all appointments, and tend to your health. It will refresh you more than you know.
But if you are feeling agitated, restless, lazy, fearful of change, stuck, antsy, bored, or lack-luster, chances are you need a bit of oomph, or a new adventure. Take a deep breath, get up, roll up your sleeves, and go to work. Stop planning all the things you will do, and just do something. It will do you good.
2-Listen to the Spirit
Praying for the guidance of the Holy Ghost will help you discern even further what you need. If you ask your Father in Heaven to help you know whether you need a little more work or a little more rest in your season of life right now, He will answer, and He will guide to know what rest or work to do.
So listen to yourself and listen to heaven’s whispers, for a wonder-filled life comes from allowing yourself to balance out the beautiful duality of rest and work. Like two sides of a coin, you need both.
As King Benjamin so wisely counseled:
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.
May you find the rest and action you need my friends,