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Tirritated – A new word for the resting-impaired

Every once in a while people invent a new word. Here’s an example.

A few months ago I was in a local coffee shop and the person behind the counter snapped at a fellow barista. They quickly realized they had over-reacted and said, “I’m sorry. I’m just so hangry.”

Have you heard that word before? It’s a combination of “hungry” and “angry.” As you may know from personal experience, when you’re hungry you’re not at your best—and sometimes angry. Hence, hangry!

So recently I decided to make up a word of my own.

When you put together “tired” plus “irritated” you get tirritated!

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Let’s face it. When we’re tired we get easily irritated. And it’s not usually because what we’re dealing with is overly unsolvable. It’s often because we’re tired and don’t have the mental capacity to think clearly.

Like it or not, fatigue runs sour buttermilk through the engine of our brain. The result is tirritation. That’s why rest is so important.

But why do we neglect it?

First, our society values busyness

It’s as if busyness is the new badge of honour. And it’s getting worse. I read about a man in Florida who billed his ophthalmologist $90 for making him wait one hour for an appointment. Then there’s the new line of greeting cards from parents to their kids: “I wish I were there to tuck you in.”

Many of us secretly prize being busy because we think it communicates to the people around us that we’re important and valuable.

Second, we treat rest like it’s optional

But if you’re a Christian like me, it’s not. It’s woven into the 10 commandments to rest one day a week. Plus, rest is assumed as a basic spiritual practice throughout the New Testament. God doesn’t command this to hurt us, but to help us! If you’re going to be at your best you need to rest.

Third, we don’t see the value

In a do-now-think-later culture, it’s easy to jump from one task to another and quickly skip over the reason why rest is so valuable. A mind that is rested is a mind that thinks more clearly. A tired mind isn’t able to decide what’s important and what isn’t. As a result, you start to make bad decisions, over-commit yourself, and do things you wouldn’t do when you’re thinking clearly.

That’s why focused times of rest bring our brains back to the invisible wide open spaces that set our thinking up for success. Writer John Ortberg compares it to filling a car up with gas: “The soul was not made to run on empty. But the soul doesn’t come with a gauge.”

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Schedule times for rest.

2. Work toward a goal of one day a week, even if you have to split it into two half-days.

3. During those times of rest do things that renew you instead of drain you.

4. Plan activities and simple meals beforehand so that you don’t spend all your time fretting.

5. Set limits on screen time so that the brain also has time to decompress. Maybe don’t check social media or email during certain “blackout” periods, and leave the phone at home during some (or all) of your outings.

6. Go to bed earlier.

7. Going forward, don’t say Yes to new commitments unless they align with your key priorities. (To read my 1-minute post about setting priorities click here.)

8. And if you’re a Christian, think of rest like a command from God (because it is), and include worship as a part of what you do.

Can you imagine how vibrant and clearheaded you’d be if you were fully rested?

Writer Lettie Cowman tells a story about some travelers visiting Africa and using a group of guides to carry their gear. On the first day they went a huge distance. But on the second day, the guides were exhausted and refused to move. Turns out that on the first day they had traveled too far too fast. As a result “they were waiting for their souls to catch up to their bodies.”

Can you relate? Do you ever feel like your soul needs to catch up to your body? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Do you get tired and therefore irritated? It can happen to any of us. If so, acknowledge the problem, and make a plan to fix it.

Join with me in the fight against tirritation.

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