Rest, Relax and Recuperate
Finding rest in a hectic world
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore the idea of rest.
Preparation and materials
- Have available the video 'Cute, speedy hamster falls off wheel!' and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 0.07 minutes long.
- You may like to choose some quiet, relaxing music to play at the end of the assembly (optional).
- Have you had a good night’s rest? Do you feel rested?
Perhaps you feel a bit like this little furry creature . . .
Show the video 'Cute, speedy hamster falls off wheel!'
- Does this video remind you of how your own life is at times?
Read the following statements and questions slowly, giving the students a chance to reflect on them.
Maybe your life is too hectic.
Maybe you have no time to rest, just too much to fit in, juggling friends, homework, family, hobbies, sport, TV and so on.
Maybe you feel as if too much is expected of you, especially as you prepare for GCSE, AS or A2 exams in the summer . . . or for mocks . . . or have coursework to complete!
Maybe it feels as if you are always revising . . . doing homework . . . classwork . . . the list goes on and on.
Are you longing for the next holiday?
Do you want nothing more than to find a place of rest where you can relax, breathe out and say, 'Ahhhhhhhh!'?
- Perhaps, instead, you are one of those people who like to keep busy. Perhaps you don’t like to take a rest! Maybe you like nothing better than to have lots to do. In fact, you find a sense of fulfilment or happiness in this way of life.
- One of the great spiritual teachers, Buddha, taught that, in life, we will feel unsatisfied no matter how busy we try to keep ourselves. This feeling of dissatisfaction, or unhappiness, he called dukkha. It can be compared to a feeling that there is something not quite right about life or something is missing.
- Perhaps you are someone who keeps busy so you don’t have time to feel that there is actually ‘something missing’.
- Is rest important? The answer is clearly, 'Yes!'
Humans have a basic, fundamental need for rest, relaxation and good-quality sleep. It has been found that teens need nine to ten and a half hours sleep per night. On average, studies have shown that only 31 per cent of secondary school students reported getting at least 8 hours of sleep on an average school night.
The effects of not getting enough rest and sleep include our brains becoming foggy, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. Without sleep, people begin to feel down and depressed and often need to fall asleep during the day. Not getting enough relaxation and rest can lead to stress and anxiety and can have a long-term impact, increasing our risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
- So, what helps us achieve good-quality rest and relaxation?
- A warm bath (not hot) will help the body reach a temperature that is ideal for rest.
- Writing ‘to do’ lists for the next day can help us to organize our thoughts and clear our minds of any distractions.
- Reading a book or listening to gentle music or the radio relaxes the mind.
- Avoiding too much caffeine (cola drinks, tea, coffee).
- Not bringing technology, such as phones, iPads, laptops or televisions into your bedroom or other place of relaxation.
- Augustine of Hippo (AD345–430) had something very interesting to say about rest: 'O Lord, our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.'
Read the quote a second time to allow students to absorb the meaning of this challenging quote fully.
What did Augustine mean by this? He meant that it is only by ‘resting’ in God that we can fully experience peace. He suggested that without God, we will never feel truly at rest. What do you think about this statement?
- Interestingly, Herbert Benson, an American doctor from Harvard University who has studied prayer, has found that all forms of prayer evoke a relaxation response that ‘quells stress, quietens the body, and promotes healing.’
Christians believe that prayer and resting in God offer the possibility of us finding rest in a hectic world.
Time for reflection
Before I read out our prayer, let us close our eyes and take a few moments to find some rest, some stillness and peace.
Become aware of any tension in your body and let go of it.
If there is time, do the following.
Let us now complete a simple ‘body scan’ – mentally consider the different parts of your body in turn, checking if there is any stress or tension there. Let it go. Start first with your face and head, then your shoulders, your arms and hands, your stomach, your legs.
Become aware of your breathing - the life-giving breath entering and leaving your body. Breathe in then release any remaining tension as you slowly breathe out.
Allow a few moments for the students to experience a sense of rest and relaxation, playing your chosen quiet music if time allows.
We thank you that you have given us the gift of sleep and relaxation.
We ask that today you help us to find moments of calmness and relaxation.
Help us to find rest.
When we are too busy, slow us down, Lord.
Help us today to not put pressure on others or demand too much from them.
Bless our rest.
Quiet relaxing music of your choosing