Do you know how to take a break?

Chaplain’s Corner

Padre Oliver Edwards

Working in the Canadian Armed Forces carries a weight that few other careers do. The weight of combat arms, even if you are not flying the missions or humping the ruck on patrol is a real thing. When we go on temporary duty or deployments, we are placing ourselves in stressful situations – situations that will take more from us than we are used to giving. But even in garrison or on the wing, we are all in the business of defending our country and that takes something extra.

Because of this, it is not just smart, it is important that we figure
out how to rest well. Resting is more than just taking leave, or flicking on the TV and mindlessly watching reality TV or our favourite dramedy (or sports for that matter). Resting is about two things: taking time and spending it on what brings us life, what soothes our soul, what calms our nerves, or what centers our being.

It’s something most of us are bad at. One common buzzword in this area is “self-care.” And that’s a great handle. Rest is not the whole of self-care but it is the part that if you don’t engage in at least some, your self-care will probably not generate the results you want. It’s like a hamburger: the meat patty is not the whole hamburger, but if you don’t have the patty, you don’t have a hamburger.

The religions that have come down to us from the Middle East (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) all teach the importance of the Sabbath – the idea of setting aside regular times of rest. Some branches of Buddhism also practice Uposatha, a rest day every seven or eight days. It’s funny how more than half the world claims to subscribe to these traditions but so many struggle with this particular teaching!

This little article won’t be able to answer the question, “What does a day of rest look like for me?” However I can give you some questions to answer for yourself that may help you locate the answers.

1. If I had no demands on me and an hour, or a day or a week available, what would I do with it?

2. What activities have I participated in at different times that I came away from feeling refreshed, energized, or content?

3. When I have a choice, do I like people (extrovert) or do I prefer to be alone (introvert)?

I will end this little challenge with some ideas that many find to give them rest. If you see a couple that interest you, even if you have never tried them before, note them down and pick a day in the next seven to try one or two out!

Spiritual

Prayer, meditation, yoga, listen to spiritual/worship music.

Physical

Walk, hike, swim (maybe just float).

Extroverted Rest

Take someone out for coffee, have a few friends over for a board game, arrange a dinner, volunteer to help someone or visit adoptable pets.

Introverted Rest

Organize your pictures, write, create art, explore your genealogy.

oliver.edwards@forces.gc.ca