The Importance of Rest

How many of you actually rest?  You slow down and actually take an hour, several hours, or a day to rest?

Real rest, where you take the time to pause in your normal activity to reset and recharge our lives and bodies before moving on to the next thing that needs our attention.  Actually listening to your body when it needs to slow down and recharge.

Rest is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “freedom from activity or labor, a state of motionlessness or inactivity, and a peace of mind or spirit.” But how many of us actually rest?  Actually have the freedom from activity or labor?

Many of us jump out of bed and rush to complete a myriad of tasks before heading out the door to work.  After work, we hurry to squeeze in a workout.  Then comes the frantic pace of dinner, homework and prep for the next day, but where in there did we pause for a little rest?  The weekend comes and it is spent cleaning the house, planning meals, buying groceries and yard work.  Where did we rest in that activity?

Many of us push ourselves constantly.  Our time is limited and we want to get the most out of the time we are awake.  We especially want to get the most out of our workouts and push ourselves to do better each time.  We only have so much time to get everything accomplished before the cycle begins again. 

But again, I ask, where and when did you rest?

Our bodies and minds are linked, for better or worse.  When we push ourselves constantly, we exhausted not only our bodies but our minds.  We become fatigued, mentally and physically.  We need to rest.

Resting is necessary for us.  It allows us to recharge and reset.  By resting, we improve our ability to function effectively. We increase our ability to be productive and creative and we improve our health.   A joint study from the University of York and the University of Florida states that more than 40% of creative ideas occur when we allow our minds to wander while at rest, and other studies have shown that taking time off and resting allows one to work more efficiently, therefore being more productive.  Also when we rest, we restore our immune systems.  Stress takes a toll on our bodies.  If we are stressed for long periods of time, our immune system suffers.  We become less likely to fight off colds and other simple ailments.  Long term stress or chronic stress reduces our white blood cell count and we become more susceptible to viruses such as the common cold.   Resting also helps us to recover and repair from strenuous exercise.  

We need to consider that rest is as important as being busy.  It is not time wasted or time spent being lazy.  We need to think of rest as time for our bodies to recover and that it is an essential part of our lives.  It is time for our brains to become more creative and productive, and our bodies stronger.

Ways to rest could include an activity that calms you and takes your mind off everyday tasks such as reading a book, a long soak in the bathtub with some lavender oil, lounging in the sun, a walk in woods, a nap, meditation, or a massage with quiet relaxing music.

Resting is a vital activity or non activity if you will.  It something we need to be conscious of and actually schedule it into our busy lives.  There are many ways to rest and only you can decide what is best for you, but the main goal is to disrupt your normal activity, breathe deeply, calm the mind and relaxes the body so that it can repair itself and we can accomplish all that we desire. 

 

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest.  Use both and overlook neither.” – Alan Cohen