Following on from the overwhelming responses from my last blog on the ABC of Self Care, I thought it apt to prepare ourselves for the holidays with the Art & Science of REST.
We’ve heard a lot about the importance of getting enough good quality sleep, but what about rest?
With the Festive Season at our doorstep which can be hectic and stressful, it’s essential we consider ways of proactively resourcing ourselves to maintain our sense of sanity and wellbeing.
In a time when people wear busyness as a badge of honour, are we missing out on opportunities to rest our minds and bodies?
But what exactly constitutes rest? Is it different for each person and how can you work out what you find most restful?
Until recently, I always felt guilty or anxious about taking a rest – even when my body was aching for it. I’d push, push, push until I could not push any more. Does this sound familiar?
My body knew only two gears – foot flat peddle to the metal, or STOP – there was no in-between gears. The only time I’d stop was from complete exhaustion and my body would give me symptoms of sickness or illness that I could no longer ignore.
WAKE UP JEFF!! (Do you remember the Wiggles ;p)
This has been a repetitive pattern in my life. And it happened again very recently. I realised that I can’t continue to coach others to live full, balanced and wholesome lives if I wasn’t fully walking my talk.
I ‘knew’ and understood intellectually of the need to rest, but there was an automatic driver within that would push and push against any logic, to do, do, do, deliver, deliver, deliver, achieve achieve, achieve.
I decided to commit to changing my habits to ensure I allow myself to enjoy some balance, fun and ‘me’ time every day!!
Because I’m worth it!
Because I deserve it!
And because I can then offer the best version of ‘me’ in serving those I love and care about.
How am I doing?
I begin each day with ‘me’ time instead of trying to squeeze it in when there’s a break in my day. Let’s face it – there’s never a break in the day for ‘me’ time unless we make time for it.
So now it’s the first thing in the diary each day, every day. And it’s non-negotiable. I’m feeling happier and healthier. And I’m feeling so much better.
I learned that we really do need to rest more. And to rest better. Resting is good not just for wellbeing but for productivity too.
Get out of your own way.
Even though we may know this, we must give ourselves permission to rest and re-frame our wasted time as rest ie. stop defaulting to busyness and start scheduling regular periods of downtime into our week.
Our ever-present smartphones with their insistent pings, and the access to addictive social media apps deter a lot of people from resting their minds.
There is increasing evidence that suggests spending time relaxing helps us to make better decisions, lowers risk of depression, boosts our memory, creativity and our immune systems.
How about you?
How do you figure out which activities you find most restful?
Firstly, it’s important to realise many people find physical exertion restful, either while doing it or afterwards. This can be anything from playing tennis to swimming, running, walking or doing a gym class. Others find meditative forms of exercise such as yoga or tai chi or qi gong more restful.
Top 10 Ways to Rest
According to Claudia Hammond, psychology professor at the University of Sussex and author of The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age, here are the most popular ways people rest:
1) Reading: The unconscious ability to speed up and slow down the pace of our reading, to linger over the good bits or skip over the dull passages helps to make reading so absorbing and relaxing. And, like music, it’s all about reading what you enjoy most.
2) Spending time in nature: Restoration theory is a psychological explanation why spending time in nature is restful. The more repetition there is in a landscape, the more we enjoy it. Researchers also found people feel most rested when they are in nature for at least 30 minutes. (This is my favourite way to rest! Bare foot, of couse.)
3) Being alone: Even extroverts rated time spent alone as more restful than time spent with other people even if they were less drawn to solitude than introverts.
4) Listening to music: The key to this is being able to select the music you listen to. Teenagers are best at using music successfully to improve their moods availing of a wider variety of music.
5) Doing nothing in particular: 10 per cent of respondents said they find rest of any kind so difficult as it made them feel guilty. With the so-called attention economy drawing us in 24/7, maybe simply lying on the couch after a busy day is more important than we think.
6) Having a good walk: 38 per cent of respondents selected walking as one of their top three restful activities. Another 16 per cent choose exercise and eight per cent said that running is restful.
7) Enjoying a hot bath: The benefits of bathing go back to Ancient Rome where public baths were a popular form of relaxation. Nowadays, hot baths are more of a private pleasure. A hot bath an hour or two before bedtime lowers body temperature to induce sleepiness.
8) Daydreaming: Scientists often use the term mind wandering rather than day dreaming, describing it as the brain’s natural state. Often maligned (especially by teachers) daydreaming is now considered important for creativity, problem-solving and planning.
9) Watching TV: More women than men chose watching TV as one of their top three restful activities.
10) Mindfulness: It gives people an opportunity to quieten their minds and relax their bodies but perhaps its benefit also lies in the decision to put uninterrupted time aside for rest. You can join me every Monday at midday (Brisbane, Australia time) for free online 15mins mindfulness practice – all details HERE
What’s my favourite way to rest?
Just in case you’re wondering what I find most restful. It’s time in nature and sunshine, walking, meditation, playing drums and dancing are my favourite ways to rest… but not all at the same time! And also, in this noisy world many of us live in, the sound that can be most restful for me is silence.
With love and restful wishes,