Rest, Creativity, and Practical Application by Sarah Bryan

IMG_7645 I’ve talked a lot about rest in the past. It is a constant lesson for me these days, especially when it seems like the crush of life’s pace would crush me right through if I let it. My days fill, my pace quickens, and my energy drains away in the current. The worst part? When my energy fades from too little rest, my creativity fades with it. Creative batteries must be charged to be functional, and rest is the docking station that restores the creative spark.

Of course, it’s all well and good to say that rest charges creative batteries. It’s another thing to make rest a practical reality amid a busy life. So, how does one make rest more than a wishful thought? Here are some tips and tools I’ve found to keep rest in my creative lifestyle:

Get Good Sleep

This may seem like a no-brainer, but stop for a minute to consider how much sleep you really get in a night. It’s not near as much as you might want or need, right? While one night of poor sleep isn’t detrimental, multiple nights can have adverse consequences. Sleep is the time when your brain clears out all the waste material produced by its cells during the day. The less time you give for this cerebral “cleaning mode,” the less effective it is at clearing the day’s cellular waste. Miss too much sleep, and the waste material begins to pile up like a New York garbage workers’ strike inside your brain. No wonder your thoughts feel jammed up! Want to let your creative thoughts flow free? Get some sleep, and clear the waste!

(For more on your brain’s night-time cleaning mode, see this awesome TED Talk)

Keep a Sabbath

Sabbaths are about a lot more than nit-picky rituals and stiff church clothes. The heart of the Sabbath is REST: “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest” (Leviticus 23:3 NLT). The word “sabbath” means to interrupt, to cease, to still. The day isn’t important -- your Sabbath could a Saturday, a Sunday, or even a Wednesday -- so long as you choose to rest in it. Sabbath is an intentional choice to put aside labor in favor of rest, providing time in which to re-calibrate your soul, mind, and creativity to a saner pace. As Hebrew theologian put it, “[Sabbath] is a day on which we are called upon to. . .turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation.”

Make Room for PLAY!

Rest is an active verb, especially where play is involved. It seems counterintuitive to the adult mind, but play is rest wrapped up in action. Play has no goals in mind, no objectives to measure, no pressure to “get it right” or “do it faster.” It’s acting for the sake of pleasure, and doing for the end goal of joy. Think about it: have you ever felt tense while playing tiddly-winks, or stressed as you whirled a hula hoop? I didn’t think so. So, go ahead, run through the sprinklers, play a game of Battleship, or break open a brand new box of crayons. Remember: play is rest in action!

Learn to Say “No”

For most of us, saying no is the hardest step of rest. Yet it could be the most important. We’re all faced a myriad of opportunities and options that look appealing, yet only a few add real value to our lives. The others add activity, while subtracting time. Rest -- and, by extension,  creativity -- need time. When time is full of busy activities, there’s little room left for things that enrich our lives. Learning how to say no to things that only add busyness makes for us to engage in things that add benefit.

In the end, we will always have to choose between busyness and rest. Rest is a skill that we hone over time. It’s not easy, and it requires self-discipline. The more you practice even when it feels difficult, however, the easier it will be to make rest your natural mode of operation. So, why not make room for rest in your life?

Sarah HeadshotSarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative hobbies; when she isn’t making art, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!