Aspen Christian Counseling

Our Prized (Dysfunctional) Alone Time

November 17, 2017
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Michael Behmer

Rest is a good thing. Rest is necessary and it makes you better in every endeavor. It seems like rest should be an easy thing to do, but as we’ve written in a previous blog, resting can be challenging.

If you’re introverted, which is very common for soul care workers to be, healthy alone time can recharge your spent energy and lead to more and better productivity. But alone time can easily derail into unhelpful behaviors that not only decrease energy but actually harm us and those around us.

Here are four common ways alone time can become dysfunctional:

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1) Overly Isolated

Alone time is what it sounds like: being alone. But being alone can become over-isolation which is characterized by active avoidance of others and anger when alone time is interrupted. Over isolation is associated with an increase in the likelihood of experiencing depression. You don’t need to erase solitary rest from your life, but you do need to be aware that over isolation can be a slippery trap for introverts.

What does it look like for you to break up your alone time with seeing one or two safe and non-draining people?

2) Overly Entertained

There is no shortage of entertainment at our fingertips at all hours of the day. While movies, TV shows, videogames, and books can all be great diversions in moderation, we can easily become too amused. The word amusement (a-muse) literally means “no thinking.” Sacrificing our thought life in the pursuit of rest is a dangerous proposition.

How can you make a plan to avoid binging on entertainment during rest times?

3) Too Reliant on Alcohol

Enjoying a good glass of beer, whiskey or wine can be a truly delightful thing. Alcohol is a depressant by nature, and like the amusement of entertainment, many in ministry use it to slow down their mind after a long day or week. This can be a dangerous road to walk down because of the extremely addictive and physically damaging nature of booze.

What accountability do you have in your life in regards to using alcohol to help you rest?

4) Sleep Deprived

Sleep is a blessed thing, so much so that the Psalmist says that God: “... gives to his beloved sleep.” Staying up late for alone time makes sense if that is the only alone time you can get. But the cost of losing any of the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep adults need a night can be damaging to mental and physical health. Sleep deprivation can mean a loss in memory recall, dysregulated hormone levels, mood imbalance and 4x increase of risk of stroke.

Do you need to prioritize 7-8 hours of sleep in order to rest well?

Over-Isolation, over-entertainment, reliance on alcohol and lack of sleep are four common ways that soul care workers wreck their own precious rest. It is a trap of pride to think that we know exactly how we should or shouldn’t rest. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath after all, we’re not. After a long week of draining work we can feel justified to unwind however we want. But like all traps of pride, unhealthy behaviors look pleasing at first but only lead to harm. In the work of soul care, this is pivotal to think and pray through so that you can get the rest you need and continue to serve effectively those in your care.

Are you getting enough rest and where do you think that you need to adjust things so that your rest is healthier?

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