When Your Body Cries “Rest” but You Want to Keep Going

When Your Body Needs Rest With Chronic Illness

I’m not naturally someone who likes rest.

Some people like to take naps and lounge. I often wish I were like them! It would be nice to be able to focus on a Netflix marathon without getting the itch to go do something else. It would be great to be free of thinking of the next thing I would like to be doing.

I don’t mind curling up in a blanket on the couch, but I’d rather be reading a book than watching a movie. If not reading, I would prefer to be writing or brainstorming for a new project. I am all for being cozy, but I like to do it with purpose.

Many days, I wish that resting came naturally to me – that I was someone who could easily watch hour after hour of TV shows to pass the time. When I feel miserable from the pain, fatigue, and brain fog that come from managing several chronic illnesses, I would love to just veg out on the couch and enjoy it!

I’m not a good rester because I desperately want to be doing something. I like to be involved in activities. I like doing work that matters, and I am not very good at stopping.

Have you ever felt this way?

What happens when those of us with chronic illnesses have great intentions but the illnesses we face stop us in our tracks?

What happens when we make plans but then have to stay home because our bodies are crying out for rest?

Here are some practical ways to cope when your body cries out “rest” but everything in you wants to keep going:

1) Stop and pray

Stop what you’re doing and begin to pull your racing mind back in. Go to God in prayer about the situation. Surrender to His will in it, asking Him to provide what you need. I know it can be really hard to see any good in the situation, but God does have a plan to use even the hardest things in our lives for good (Romans 8:28).

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2) Choose to be okay with the setback

As you go to God in the midst of suffering, the problems you face may seem a little smaller when you recognize just how big God is. When we choose to be okay with the setback instead of fighting against it will full force, we are able to rest more easily. This doesn’t mean not treating illness or giving up on the idea of seeing better days. This just means that when you need more rest because of symptom flares, you can choose to rest on that day instead of being angry about the situation.

3) Renew your mind in God’s Word

The Biblical definition of rest is not based on something mindless but on renewing our minds in God’s truth. We need physical rest for our bodies (that’s how we were created after all!), but we should be filling our minds with God’s Word.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

It may be hard to read the Bible when you’re worn out from illness. I completely understand how that goes!  So I love listening to the Bible on the YouVersion Bible App.

It’s also beneficial to listen to Christian messages online as I lay in bed. Instead of TV (which can definitely be okay sometimes), it helps fill our minds with truth. When we’re worn down, we need to be reminded of truth! Some of my favorite places to hear messages are Revive Our Hearts and The Gospel Coalition.

4) Build a supply of resources that you can turn to when symptoms worsen and fatigue sets in

It isn’t fun to change plans because illness holds you back, but having a supply of resources can be helpful for coping. Pull together the things you know will help you feel a little better as you take time to rest.

Some of my favorite things to use when I need rest are a heating pad, warm lemon water, detox tea, Epsom salt baths, Joy Essential Oil, a coloring book, and colored pencils. :)

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If you’re looking for more support on your journey with chronic illness, please know that you don’t have to do it alone! Grab your free copy of my eBook, Finding Hope Through the Fog, and join our email community of hope!

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Emily Lofgren’s heart beats for authenticity. She craves true connection where we can be real about our struggles and find hope together. Emily became a Christian in college and since then has had a passion for writing in a way that helps others encounter life. Grab your free copy of her eBook Finding Hope Through the Fog.

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