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Welcome to Day 18 of the IN AWE 21-Day Challenge! Today we spark inspiration, meaning and joy by embracing the importance of REST.

If you’re feeling stressed or suffocated by a whirlwind of new realities or potential hardships, then your brain is BEGGING for a break.

CHALLENGE: Take a break!

INSPIRATION: Here’s a slice of IN AWE (Chapter 15), that is perhaps even more significant now than when I first wrote it.

Stanford neuroscientist Daniel Levitin studies what happens to our brains during the kind of task switching that is now a normal part of our daily lives. And what he discovered is that when the brain is forced to switch back and forth between different tasks, it uses its energy (oxygenated glucose) much more quickly, leaving the brain literally starved.

When you feel spent, depleted, and burnt out, there is a physio­logical reason for that. Your brain needs a break.

A study at the University of London found that subjects who multitasked while performing cognitive tasks experienced a severe drop in IQ. The decrease was essentially on par with what you’d ex­perience after smoking marijuana or missing a night of sleep.


And yet we seem to think that multitasking is what the best of us do. Who has time to do one thing at a time anymore?

But the constant filtering of information leaves our brains down­right depleted.

We can’t even relax without multitasking. A whopping 88 per­cent of us use a second screen while watching television. I know I’m guilty of this! On an average weeknight, you’ll find me answer­ing a few work emails with the television on in the background. But to our brains, this isn’t relaxing. As our brain shifts between de­mands, trying to figure out where to focus its attention, we are ex­hausting it even further. Rather than zoning out and giving our brains a rest, we are adding additional stress on an already fried sys­tem.

It’s time to stop the madness.

ACTION: Take pause. Find an escape – even if it’s momentary – where you can kick your feet up. Dive into a book. Go for a walk. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the season. If you so choose, comment below or post on social, tagging me + using #inawe and share how you intentionally found time to chill out for a bit.

My friends, today is your day! Live IN AWE.
John O’Leary

Did you know? 
The 21-Day IN AWE Challenge is inspired by John’s book IN AWE. Order your copy + see all the fun behind the scenes at ReadInAwe.com.


15 replies on “IN AWE 21-Day Challenge – Day 18”

I have made it a habit to sleep between 7 to 8 hours daily from my Dad. He said that before you sleep make it a habit to clear your mind and go to rest. You will be more recharged to take the new day! Most of the times, It works!

I’m horrible at REST and hope to get better. Thank you so much John for this reminder. I work fulltime from home with 3 kids of different ages and all by myself. When I am not working I am cooking and cleaning. I feel like I just CAN’t allow a minute of a break. This is horrible, I know, but how do I accomplish everything I need to accomplish….? Promise to work on it. Your today message is right on time. Thank you again….

It is my habit to rest and care about my mind. I meditate, relax with my journal, make a face-mask, enjoy nature, cook or talk with my boyfriend.

It helps me to refill my source and stop overthinking.

REST – Being a single parent I juggled many plates in the air as I raised my son. Early on I learned to REST on Sundays. As an avid gardener I find much peace being in the garden. God’s give of nature to us can be a great healer. I definitely slow down and smell the roses every change I can get.

I even found myself jumping to my writing as I was reading Chapter 15. Hah! I course corrected. I love this message as it is SO SO true and rest is so overlooked in our society sometimes. The good news is we have a choice on whether we want to always be human doings or actually be present in what we are doing and be human beings. Thank you John and really enjoyed your book launch party. Today, I allowed myself to go back to sleep after waking up and doing my morning meditation. Power versus Force can be a fine line sometimes!

I just finished reading this section about “brain break”. When I was still teaching I was always trying to multi-task. Rather than taking a lunch with colleagues, I graded assignments or tests in my classroom alone. The thing about teaching is that you’re never “caught up”. The only time my brain got a slight “rest” was when school was out for the year. I wish employers (including schools) would see how valuable brain rest is for both students and teachers. I knew a lot of stressed out high school students.

I retired almost two years ago and have loved the freedom it brings. I know “enjoy” most of my days. Again, how can we get all employers to allow their employees “time” to do their job (including a brain break).

I am going to treat myself to a relaxing, hot bath with bubbles, candles and a glass of red wine tonight! Maybe I’ll top it off with some light Jazz!

I took a couple of days to figure out “how” I could escape and take a pause…
Actually, I know how, but rarely take the time to do it.

Yesterday, even if I felt realy tired, I took 15-20 minutes to read in the sheet shed that my daughter built over the confinement weeks. I read with her with headlight for her, and book light for me.
It was very relaxing and a nice moment to share!

I have tried to take at least a 30 minute nap 2-3 times a week since social distancing started. I limit how much news I watch and encourage others to do the same.

Before I read this, I just said to my husband we should pick out some old comedies and have the kids sit with us in the evening without all of our phones and just laugh. I will definitely take some time each day to go outside an enjoy nature in my bare feet, as the weather should be nicer this week during our shelter in place. Be well, John. Thanks for this challenge, it has been a welcome break.

I am so bad about the “second screen” thing – I usually play a game while we are watching TV. I’ll try to make a concerted effort to unitask, instead of multitask!

I just went outside for a 20 minute stroll, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors on this perfect day refreshed me.

For the last four months, I have made it a ritual to give myself some time to take in the beauty around me. Before I prepare breakfast for my husband and me, I spread seeds to the outdoor birds, where I can enjoy them when I sit down to eat. I sit a little while longer, after my husband leaves to work, and continue to watch them as they play and chase each other. I have a pair of tiny binoculars I keep at my sitting place, so I can admire the different markings they each possess.

I took the time intentionally to be down on the floor with my dogs. They love cuddles and sometimes appear to be begging for attention with their eyes. I let them have all of me. #inawe

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