Emotional Rest

Sea Waves Power 1My work  life can be emotionally laden.  I work with missionaries; the majority of my energy is directed towards their children.  This means I wear a lot of different hats in my role at WorldVenture.

Often I serve as an educational consultant. Other times I develop curriculum to help teachers learn to move into a 1 Room Schoolhouse or to help kids adapt to missionary life..  A few times a year I train new missionaries in public speaking , conflict management, presentations, and transition–among other things.  For a few weeks a year I get to help our TCKs debrief the last few years of their lives and prepare them for the next phase.

Grief is a common theme when talking with Third Culture Kids.  We all deal with it on occasion, but for them it’s woven into the warp and woof of their personal tapestries.  Many of them take things in stride that would send some of us running to pull the covers over our heads.

I teach some.  I listen a lot.  Sometimes I can leave it all in the office when I walk out the door.  Other times what I hear creeps into my heart and travels home with me.

When I first moved into this position there were days when it was overwhelming.  There are still a few days when I feel like I’ve been hit by an emotional tsunami.  I’m thankful those days are less frequent. I’m even more grateful that I’ve learned to navigate my way through the treacherous waters when they hit.

I’ve learned I need to talk.  I know I can’t talk to just anyone.  Thankfully I have a small group of friends it’s appropriate and safe to vent to.  I need to journal.  I need to pray—the ultimate safe place to unload my day and my thoughts.  Often that’s enough for me to let go of what I’m carrying around so I can sleep.

I’ve found I need more than sleep sometimes.  I need other ways to relax and let my mind be diverted.  Spending time with friends who make me laugh is my favorite way to find that diversion.  Sadly, they’re not always available . . . and sometimes I’m peopled out.  In that case, I have three go-to’s—books,  TV/movies, and scrapbooking.

I love getting lost in a beautifully written story.  If I choose my author well, I know the resolution will be good and right even if it’s not happy.  TV and movies are good because even if they focus on an ugly problem, resolution happens before I go to bed.  It’s a nice counterbalance to my day.  Working on a layout for my scrapbook allows my mind to solve a very different problem successfully and see something beautiful and meaningful appear.

Emotional rest is a necessity and a process just like physical rest.  Because I can turn over the hurts, disappointments and grief that come home with me sometimes, because I can find lightness and laughter and other places, because I can create, I can recharge. Emotional rest allows me to go back another day and love people for and because of Jesus.

How do you find emotional rest?

photo courtesy of Miguel Saavedra


Today I’ve joined the Faith Barista’s Faith Jam.  Every week Bonnie’s asking other bloggers to “jam like musicians” on a faith and life related topic.  This is my riff on “How I Experience Emotional Rest.”  I’d love to read your thoughts on the topic.  Please leave a comment or a link to your blog if you’ve jammed on this.  And if you haven’t blogged on it, please leave some of your thoughts in the comment section below.  If you’re interested in seeing what others had to say, please follow the link over to the Faith Barista site.

15 responses to “Emotional Rest”

  1. Playing guitar/singing worship songs after the kids are in bed is the most effective, yet not the first I generally turn to unfortunately. Crossword puzzles, short happy movies, having a clean house (though getting to the point of actually cleaning it stresses me out)… The 4 year old is keeping me pretty high-strung these days, so thanks for the reminder to take some time to unwind. 🙂

  2. I liked this. I probably unwind by exercise (especially running) journalling, and if I’m really warn out movies are a good way to relax. =)

  3. Great stuff, Sheryl. Thank you for all the listening you do as you spent time with TCKs! Having a safe place to vent is really great. I am thankful to have my parents as one of those safe places – they are outside the environment I work/minister in, and always have my best interests at heart. They’ve been a great help in several sticky situations I’ve counselled kids through.

  4. Aimee—Don’t let the 4 year old wear you down! They’re supposed to be the happiest people on earth, 4 year olds. Get some of that joy! Yes, a clean house is emotionally restful. I love it the two days out of the year that my house gets there. I used to find that space in playing my flute, so I see what you’re saying about the guitar.

    Allie—before I hurt my leg and was exercising regularly I did look forward t it on particularly rough days. Exercise does have a way of clearing the noise from your head. I’d forgotten about that.

    Tanya—Parents offer some great insights, don’t they? I’m thankful you have a safe place to vent. I’m sure you deal with a bunch of stressors on a regular basis that I only deal with on rare occasions. Oh—and you’re welcome . . . and back at you! I wish I had some kids in your neck of the woods.

  5. Hopefully you’ve had a lot of emotional rest lately. And, I pray you get a lot more before your summer starts!

    My emotional rest comes from a good long drive with good tunes and/or a good long walk to just let go of my thoughts. It’s the only time I feel truly alone (even though Sarah is usually with me). I try to do one of these daily.

  6. I’ve had a good bit lately, Tirzah. It seems to be crashing to a halt right now. I’m in the process of asking our families for prayer requests for their kids. Lots of heaviness in my inbox, but I know it’s not my load to bear alone.

  7. I love how you included activities that are both social and solitary. I need each of those restful outlets, too. Sometimes it is best to be with others – laughing and talking. Sometimes I just need to be alone, quiet. I always need to have my prayer time. That helps the most.

  8. Although I haven’t had the same work experiences, I can relate to feeling like you’ve “been hit by an emotional tsunami.” Reading and papercrafting help me, too. Lately I’ve been needing more time to “unload” the burden by sharing it with someone else. Different methods in different seasons, I guess.

  9. I had a saying when I was in college and stress: “This is stressing me out; I’m going for a walk”. Next thing you would see was me lacing up and getting out in the beautiful weather. Like you, I also love a good book and movie! Your job sounds like it would be really fulfilling. It also sounds like you often need a little down time! I hope that you continue to find emotional rest in the mist of chaos. 🙂

  10. I feel the exact same about TV and movies helping bring escape that still has resolution before the end. I love reading good books, but when I am really emotionally exhausted the time and concentration required for that can be more than I want to deal with. At times like that, I like the light funny shows that you don’t have to pay so much attention to in order to follow along, and stories where the good guys win.

  11. Courtney and Melissa—I think you’re right, it is different solutions in different seasons. And I think it’s different solutions depending on the cause of the emotional stress. Sometimes it’s not appropriate to go to anyone else but Jesus. Sometimes I just need the company of others not to unload but to be reminded that there’s more than this thing that’s taking over my brain. It’s certainly good to have options!

    Jennifter—This is an incredibly fulfilling ministry. I hate calling it “work” because most of the time it’s so much more than that. Your stress-walk solution sounds like a good one. I just know if I’d done that in college (and probably still now) my work never would’ve gotten done! I wasn’t disciplined enough to go for a short walk and then get back to studying. I have learned the benefit of exercise for de-stressing, though. I’m kind of even looking forward to getting back to it. (Very shocking for me!)

    Dunlizzie—You’re so right about emotional exhaustion and the amount of concentration reading or longer TV shows or movies can take. After I evacuated from Africa, a 30 minute sitcom taxed my ability to concentrate. At that point, a magazine article was about all I could handle! I’m glad I’m not alone.

  12. It’s so true that at times we need more than sleep to ‘get’ emotional rest. It sounds like you have found a solid balance between people time and solidary time. Thank you for sharing that wisdom. Thanks also for stopping by my post. I appreciated your comment.

  13. Hi, Carol!
    Sometimes I have the balance and sometimes I don’t. I’m pretty good at getting peopled out too regularly, but I usually know my schedule well enough to know when I need to pull back so I have something to give later. Thanks for jamming with me this week!

  14. What a terrific story, Sheryl. You covered the deep aspects of dealing with others griefs and hurts. It can be overwhelming.
    I love a good book as a way to relax. It absorbs my whole mind and removes the weight so that I can get good sleep. Physical rest is good but I think emotional rest is even better!
    I liked the way you analyzed the reasons that certain activities give us emotional rest. That reading, watching a movie, and scrapbooking give us problem resolution. How interesting! I never thought of that before.

    Thank you for stopping by and have a restful week.


  15. Thank you, Janis. Your kind words are a good way to start my week. May your week be restful, too!

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