Intersection of Psychology + Rest
Interview with Emily Katherine Dalton, Assistant Coordinator of Discipleship Intensives for WinShape College Program
The WinShape College Program is undergoing some significant change with regards to expansion and organizational structure. Emily Katherine Dalton rests happily in the midst of it, enjoying the change and diving into new waters as she works to equip college students with leadership skills and recruit partners to come alongside their growth in discipleship initiatives.
Not only does she create impact in her work, she is also pursuing an MDiv in Christian Education, which means she is becoming a master at developing content for spiritual formation. In her undergrad studies, she focused on cognitive neuroscience. In a nutshell, Emily Katherine loves studying theology and psychology, and enjoys getting others to love it, too.
This remarkable woman is a joy to work with; just being in her presence is refreshing. Her infectious joy seems to reverberate everywhere she goes. She is continually full of authenticity and hope. Check out her newly published book about being real.
Emily Katherine is also very passionate about the subjects of rest and mindfulness. We wanted to learn more, so we interviewed her. Here’s what we found out.
Lack of Rest is a Problem in Today’s World
Emily Katherine explains, “In an age of information rather than perspiration, we lack natural, physical boundaries. Our work goes everywhere we go.” Prior to the technological revolution, physical labor caused most people a tremendous amount of fatigue. We now live in a time where most work is of the mind. We do a lot of thinking — a lot of bouncing from idea to idea and from conversation about this to conversation about that. Have you ever heard someone exclaim, “I have too many tabs open!” After a full day of several open tabs, our brains are worn out. We need to give them a break.
Our generation doesn’t know how to unplug.
According to Emily Katherine, “We lack physical boundaries that keep us from working all the time, and we’re tempted to be constantly ‘on,’ but we weren’t meant for that.”
Our mobile devices give us a lot of benefits, but they also offer the opportunity for continual bombardment and demand for attention. We don’t know how to escape notifications, advertisements, task lists, overflowing inboxes, or the endless social scroll.
Emily Katherine goes on to say that it’s “less about what we can do, and more about what we know. Our brains are being treated as infinite resources. This results in stress. A chronic stress of never unplugging that is enacting our chemical fight or flight response simply to meet the goal of survival. We’re tired, exhausted, and lonely. The life more abundant is not a life just focused on survival.”
The Benefits of Mindfulness and Intentionality
Being in a state of survival offers a stale, draining existence “[that] takes a great toll on our bodies, minds, spirituality, relationships, and even productivity,” says Emily Katherine. To combat this loop of stress and strain, take intentional time to slow down and reflect. It can bring incredible benefits: fullness, contentment, and joy!
A practice of “mindfulness” can be just as powerful as taking antidepressants.
Pausing to center offers an abundance of benefits to your health and fights off depression that results from mental stress and overload. Emily Katherine says, there are several ways to pause, including “practicing gratitude, focusing on yourself, focusing on others, and stepping off our thrones of self-sufficiency and importance to our world. Doing this creates new brain connections and un-wires trauma, combating anxiety and depression.”
Unplug to Power Up
Since rest is so powerful and can create such a large impact on our lives, we need to make it a priority; otherwise, burnout is inevitable.
Ponder for a moment: Where do you feel fulfilled? How does your tank refuel?
Emily Katherine suggests these ways to reenergize and unplug: “learning, stillness, discovery, nature (feeling small), playing, exercise, not producing, producing just for fun, or [enjoying the] open water.”
It is important to establish healthy boundaries. “If you work with your mind, rest with your hands and vice versa,” says Emily Katherine. “Rest takes intentionality and preparation.”