You may be wondering how these two words go together. Sweat and Respite are not things that you would typically think of as going together. But for me they are. There is something about doing some good hard work, getting dirty and tired, that while sometimes physically exhausting is at the same time fulfilling. Now this could all be because I am a farm kid and working hard brings me a piece of home and memories around the farm with my dad. But I think that it goes to something deeper.
There is lots of research that has shown how exercise releases certain endorphins that can help relieve stress. Exercise can also help raise serotonin levels bosting overall well-being and your helping sleep cycles. There are many benefits to mental and not just physical health through exercise.
This summer I had the opportunity to volunteer up at Luther Heights multiple times, helping with all sorts of projects, from replacing rotten bench supports to oiling Sawtooth Lodge. But one thing that I was grateful for each time was the ability to work hard in (distanced) community. Most volunteers came up to camp with the dual purpose of doing some projects to help camp while also getting some respite time in the mountains away from the hustle and bustle of the chaos of life right now. This balance of work and respite looks different for all of us, and for me right now work projects are a source of respite. A chance to just do and not have to think so much. A change away from what my day to day life consists of these days. But also a connection to my past and a core piece of who I am. I am sure part of why it gives me a sense of respite now is that I don’t get to do too much physical labor these days. When I think back to the summer my dad brother and I pulled milkweed out of a hay field, hard work wasn’t respite for me then. But now it is something that can bring me that respite because it is not part of my daily life.
This is why the balance of work and respite, they style of self-care, looks different for all of us. We are all in different places in our journey and along that journey there are different things and activities that fill us. You may be reading this and thinking how can working hard and sweating be respite? I just want to sit and read a book or I just want to do my yoga practice. And that’s just it. Working hard won’t necessarily always be something that brings a sense of respite and but in this pace and time it is. Something may only be life giving to us for a time, and that is okay. The important thing is to recognize what things are life giving to us right now. What things can we do today, or this week that will help fill our cup, so that when we are called upon we have something to give to others.
What things or activities are life giving to you? When was the last time you did something to help fill your cup? Think about these things and see if you can start to work into your schedule a few of the things that help bring you respite. It is important to know what is filling and what is draining for you.
I pray that you can take time to do something to help bring you some peace and respite today.