Four Ways to Rest This Summer

woman resting in hammock

Summer is here (or almost, depending on your counting). I confess to over-planning at the beginning of summer because the weather’s right and I feel energized by the extra daylight to get a lot done! But let’s consider another worthy goal for these months: rest. Here are four suggestions out of many possibilities.

1. Create a comfortable space, away from television, computer, and other distractions.

The best anniversary gift my husband ever bought me was a hammock. It goes up every spring, and I commit to spending time in it every day. It’s almost impossible to do anything when you’re in a hammock—you are left with gazing into the sky or closing your eyes altogether. Sometimes I read in the hammock, but usually that leads to napping, which is even better.

Create a little environment that removes you from household activity. For heaven’s sake, leave your cell phone far away from this environment. It might be a lounger on your small city balcony, or it might be a comfortable chair in the spare bedroom that is unoccupied unless you have guests. Make the space beautiful, quiet, and soothing. Then commit to spending time there regularly, every day if possible.

2. When / if you go away for a few days, resist the urge to take work with you.

I used to drag along letters to answer, books to finish reading, and even business mail to sort when we would go on a long weekend away or on a vacation of a few days. I finally stopped doing that, because “stuff” related to tasks and responsibilities merely brought along my usual stress. I wasn’t resting, just carrying my anxiety to a different location.

Some of us must force ourselves to relax and not be on task. Be strict with yourself as you’re packing for that getaway or vacation. Force yourself to sit around with nothing to do—if you face enough “empty” hours, you might actually begin to relax, take naps, and enjoy the art of being present.

3. Take part in activities that help you relax.

Rather than watch television on summer evenings, often my husband and I play cards. This has become our exclusively summer activity—for some reason we’re not attracted to it during the winter. It’s a back porch thing to do.

Whether you garden, draw, knit, walk, visit museums, cook, or ride your bike, if that activity helps you unwind and breathe more deeply, make regular time for it this summer.

I should also add that, depending on your temperament, do this activity alone or with others. Introverts generally refuel by being alone, but extraverts relax better when they’re with their favorite people. Decide what is best for you.

4. Decline invitations.

Just about everybody is more active during the summer, and so we’re more likely to receive invitations to backyard barbeques or events at the park or beach. Give yourself permission to say no, graciously, if what you’re fantasizing about is lounging in the backyard with iced tea and a pile of magazines you’ve been waiting to read.

Plan your rest. Plan other possibilities around your rest. If you don’t insist on keeping some time for yourself, that time will become absorbed into everyone else’s schedules.

How do you rest in the summertime?
What have you learned about rest-activity balance over the years?

About Vinita Hampton Wright 110 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

4 Comments on Four Ways to Rest This Summer

  1. My dad and I took a short trip to New Orleans years ago. I was quite happy to sit in a bar and listen to a blues band playing, or to sit by the river and just watch the water go by. Dad, however, chaffed at just “doing nothing.” Vacations were for actively doing something according to my dad. He just didn’t get it.

  2. The rest I take for myself is every Sunday with the SF Chronicle and the NY Times and my coffee, after I get home from Mass. I’m thinking of replacing the Chronicle with my coloring book, as local news is rather disheartening. The NYT satisfies my love of the fine arts, and word puzzles. My husband has taken this Sunday rest seriously too. We don’t interrupt each other until dinner time, which we cook together, eat together, and clean up together.

    I try to remember to offer up this day of rest in gratitude for all the things that keep us busy the rest of the week. And the Holy Spirit responds by giving us wisdom, and the grace to recognize it, and the grace to use it on behalf of those around us. So, setting aside a day of rest for oneself is a good thing. After all, even our Creator took a day for rest, because He saw that what he did the other six days was VERY GOOD.

  3. When my wife was alive, and I was being worn to a frazzle as a Purchasing Manager, I began to accumulate the Times Magazine sections. The puzzles were too easy to spend a Sunday on, when there were places to go swimming. But we did take at least a week at the shore each year. I would pack, a dozen or more Times magazines, and do the puzzles like a marathon, four or more each day (before noon). That, and being in the ocean was a real mind unwinder. Many times we would be at the shore at he same time as a Bingo crew from Scranton.

    They traveled with their chaplain, and he said Mass every morning out on the sun deck.

  4. Thanks for some of your suggestions Vinita and also others who have written.
    Rest is such a great part of life.
    For me, it is the garden. Sitting around in the shade. Getting up to change where the pots are hanging.
    Noticing that one of the plants needs a change of location.
    Brewing tea and sharing it with our family who may just drop in.
    It is so different for all and there are so many ways to rest.
    Loved the options that Helen posted.
    My Dad always avoided bars as he thought they were for when you weren’t resting.
    Just a different point of view.
    The real challenge is in making the tea.
    There are so many ways to make it.

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