Finding Soul Rest in Motherhood when you're Overwhelmed

This blog post will cover what it means to find soul rest, even when overwhelmed. It also contains practical tips to incorporate rest into your day. 

If the words “rest” and “motherhood” don’t seem like they go together, you are not alone in your thinking. As mamas, we always have seemingly endless to-do lists. Keeping the house running smoothly while also keeping up with babies and small children is a full-time job. To complicate things more, we are often running on little sleep, or interrupted sleep. In this blog post I will share a few ways that I have found to seek rest in motherhood, even while being physically exhausted.

What Does it Mean to Rest?

Rest, by definition, is to cease work in order to relax, refresh, or recover strength, according to the Oxford dictionary. Obviously as mamas, it is not always possible for us to cease work all together, but we can learn to find ways to refresh ourselves and relax, even amidst the busyness of daily life. 

Although physical and mental rest are very closely related, I think that, often, if we can rest our minds, we will find our bodies more relaxed and at ease, even if they are utterly worn out. So the big question is, how do we find rest for our minds.

How Do We Rest Our Minds in Motherhood? 

When our hearts are fully satisfied in Jesus and completely resting in Who He is we will find that our hearts feel and know the peace of God. This is true soul rest. Peace with who we are in Christ Jesus, both our relationship and standing with Him and in who He made us to be. When we know God, we can find rest even on the hardest days because if nothing else, we can rest knowing that He is always good and always faithful. 

Listen to Jesus’s words in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” I believe that the first way that we find rest for our hearts is to turn to Jesus. Come to Him first and often, pray over needs and burdens, bring every thought captive and compare it to the truth of His Word, praying rather than worrying. 

Looking For Beauty

One of the most practical ways that I have found to intentionally focus my thoughts on what is good, true, lovely, and wholesome is by intentionally looking for beauty in my day and then making a list of those things that I find. This practice trains my eyes to see the goodness of God around me rather than focus on my worry or fears. 

A beautiful sunrise. The rosebud colored lips of my little girl. A small hand holding mine. The glow of candlelight. A steaming cup of coffee- all of these things are examples of little moments in my day where I might see the beauty and just stop to say, “Thank you, Jesus.” One of my favorite resources on the topic of finding beauty is Ann Voskamp’s book, 1,000 Gifts. She talks about this very thing. Looking for beauty – the gifts – that God has given each day, even if its through pain and suffering. 

This little practice has been life-changing for me as a stay at home mom. I notice a huge difference in my own anxiety and perspective on life when I am looking for and expressing gratitude for the gifts God has given me each day. You can find her book here. 

My Body is Weary, How Can I Find Rest Physically?

You might be thinking, ok that’s nice, but my body is tired and I just can’t keep going. Physical, emotional, and mental rest are all closely related. When we have a weary body, not only is spiritual rest more difficult, but daily life becomes just plain hard. This is especially true in the newborn season of sleepless nights, or anytime you are just not sleeping. 

In these seasons I think it is necessary to give yourself grace. Cook simple meals, rest when the children rest, spend less time scrolling and more time being present. Look for the little areas in your day where you can rest. Maybe it’s 10 minutes of reading a book while supper cooks and the children are busy. Maybe you sleep while your little one is down for nap time. Looking for those little moments of rest will go a long ways towards giving you physical rest. 

Look for opportunities in your day to do something that brings you joy. Do something fun with your kiddos. Go for a slow walk, bake cookies, cuddle on the couch and read story books. You will find rest and refreshment when you incorporate things into your day that bring you joy.

The Power of Early Morning

Early morning can be a sweet time of rest and refreshment while your house is quiet. It is not for everyone in every season of life. From experience that on days that I choose to get up early for some quiet time alone BEFORE my house wakes up, I feel much more refreshed and rested. Almost every time I choose to sleep in, I end up regretting it. I feel behind and rushed from the start. 

Early morning time for me looks like, time spent reading God’s Word and a short, 20-30 minute workout. This time fuels me mentally, physically, and emotionally and sets the tone for my day. 

Practicing An Intentional Day of Rest

One of the best rhythms of my life is our Sabbath rest day. Sunday is a day that we have intentionally set aside for rest. We plan for rest. We diligently work our to-do lists and household needs into the other seven days of the week so we can rest. Sunday morning is spent at church. Then the rest of the afternoon and evening we spend at home resting, walking, playing games, reading books. We truly just relax and enjoy being together. 

Screen time and social media are intentionally limited on our Sabbath day. We eat simple meals and we leave as many chores untouched as we can. This will look different for every family, but setting aside an intentional day of rest has been such a life-giving rhythm in our home. You can read more about our rhythm of Sunday rest in this blog post. This blog post outlines my chore routine that allows me to rest on Sundays.  

The Importance of Community

Another aspect of rest is finding people with whom you can share your weary heart, talk, and find encouragement. Surround yourself with people who will pray with and for you and encourage you. It won’t take the burden away, but it will help to have someone share them with you. 

A Note On Social Media

The internet is a great resource for learning and social media can be a place of encouragement and community. I just want to offer a note of caution if you are struggling with exhaustion and feeling anxious. While social media can be good, it can also be a cause for becoming discontent with our homes, husbands, and children. It is also incredibly easy to waste time simply scrolling. If you are struggling with comparison and discontent to be very intentional about how you are using social media. 

The Role of Diet and Exercise in Rest

When you are physically exhausted, it is also important to make sure that you are staying hydrated and eating nourishing foods. Try to focus on eating protein, as this will keep you fuller longer and also fuel your body. Adding minerals to your water is another great way to fill in nutritional gaps in your diet. You will also notice reduces anxiety and brain fog, and all day energy. These minerals are my favorite. 

Regularly moving your body in some way is also important when you are tired. I have found even short walks in the sunshine to be incredibly beneficial to my mental and physical health.

Mamas need rest. We crave deep, soul rest, ad yet, we often just keep keeping on because we have to. Looking to Jesus to anchor our hearts first and relying on His Word to sustain us, finding beauty and joy in the every day lives we live, and nourishing our bodies with quality food and minerals will go a long way towards helping us to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually rested. 

You may also be interested to read this blog post about flourishing in all seasons or this one about feeling inadequate as a mom. 

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