As we are into the holidays season, it is important to realize the role of rest in our life.
Generally, it’s really hard to improve our physical wellness when other parts of our life might be under stress or unhealthy. For example, if your job is causing you to stress or you’ve lost your excitement for what you do, you might find that it is difficult to rest. But if you can find a new way to view work or make a change that allows you to love what you do, resting becomes much easier and deep.
But it also works the other way around: one of the elements that can support you to gain perspective on your life’s situation is the element of rest - a cornerstone issue for many.
REST AND SLEEP
Discussing rest is crucial when it comes to wellness. Nevertheless, the overall attitude toward rest is to try to minimize it as much as possible. We put value on getting more done, being more productive, and being more efficient - and we have lost our value for rest. Our quality and quantity of rest have decreased, causing many problems ranging from minor health issues to major challenges.
When we think of resting, we often think of sleeping. That can include going to bed at night or it might also include thinking of a midday nap. Generally, we all know that sleep affects the rest of our lives in major ways, and those who suffer from insomnia and ongoing sleep issues feel this the most acutely.
When we’re sleeping well most nights, we’re able to get more done and feel more vibrant during the day. But when we’re having issues getting enough quality sleep every night, we’re going to really struggle to get through the day.
But when we’re talking about rest, we mean more than just sleep. Rest is a bigger idea than that. It’s all about valuing our self-care practices. Rest also includes our downtime and the ways that we intentionally slow down. It’s all about taking time to enjoy a hobby, relaxing entertainment, or restful activities. Rest is about the things we can do to release stress, calm our bodies, and power down our minds for a while.
BALANCE YOUR REST ELEMENT
So you know that rest is critical to your overall well-being and wellness practice. But how do you find ways to get more quality rest? Here are some great ideas to help you find more restfulness.
1. Consider how you are sleeping.
Since a good night’s sleep is crucial to our overall practice of rest, it makes sense to start there. Everyone needs a set number of hours of sleep each night, usually between 6-9 hours. We’re all a little bit different, so the exact number of hours will individually vary. Depending on how much stress we’re juggling in our lives, our personal needs for sleep might increase or decrease, as well.
It’s important to give your sleep some attention. Do you feel like you’re getting enough quality sleep every night? Or are you getting enough sleep, but not feeling rested? Do you have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep? After a night’s rest, do you have enough energy for the day or do you always feel like you’re dragging? What kinds of things can you do to make sleep easier for you?
2. Increase the time you spend doing self-care.
Taking care of ourselves is something that is seriously minimized in our modern worlds. We’ve all got long to-do lists and we frantically rush through our days trying to get it all done. But the old adage of filling your own cup so that you can fill others’ still applies. We’re never going to feel satisfied with our lives or be able to achieve our goals if we’re running on empty.
Time is always a factor when it comes to self-care. One way to create more time is to subtract things that you don’t need to be doing and that aren’t giving you anything of value. You can also find things that you’re doing that maybe you could do some time in the future instead. Self-care is worth prioritizing, so take some time to analyze your schedule to find ways to reduce your demands. Then plug in as much self-care and rest time as you possibly can.
3. Pay attention to your energy levels.
You might be one of the lucky ones who sleep well and then wake up energized and ready to start your day. Or you might wake up dragging from the first moment your feet hit the floor. Notice your energy levels at the beginning of the day, but also pay close attention to how they change throughout the day.
Do you feel exhausted by lunchtime? Are you loading up on caffeine just to get through the day? Are you dragging all day long and then lying in bed wide awake at night? Keep a journal to keep track of your energy levels, then compare it to other activities and the food you’re eating to discover patterns and correlations.
4. Check in with other aspects of life.
Oftentimes, our quality and quantity of rest are directly affected by other aspects of our lives. If you’re struggling through a bad patch with your boss, your partner or your kid, it might be really hard to sleep at night. It is true that many parameters can be making it hard for us to go to sleep and to stay asleep. And in the same way, they can also make us feel less motivated to engage in self-care, right during a time when we might need it the most.
So go take a look and think about how other elements might be pushing your element of Rest out of balance. Is there a relationship you need to work on to bring you more peace of mind? Is there anything you need to do but you are constantly postponing because you do not know how to start? Do you need to work on your nutrition and cut back on caffeine? What parts of your life could use some attention?
GET BETTER REST AND SLEEP
Taking good care of yourself is essential to achieving wellness. This includes focusing on resting more, giving yourself better self-care, and ensuring that your sleep each night is restful. It’s crucial to think of your rest and sleep patterns. This will help you support your overall goals. You’ll also feel much better in the short term and the long term.
It’s important to note that using electronics is not a true form of self-care. Playing on your phone, watching television or engaging in social media might feel like a mental break from something else you are working on, but it’s more of a “numbing out” rather than a “tuning in” to what our body and mind needs. While using electronics might feel relaxing, it is not truly restorative.
Find here some ideas of what you can do to rest:
- Write in your journal
- Make a delicious, nutritious meal
- Take a bath with salts and essential oils
- Read a book
- Sketch, color, or paint
- Listen to music
- Listen to an audiobook
- Listen to an inspirational podcast
- Go for a walk around your neighborhood
- Take a hike in the woods
- Leisurely bike on a country road
- Take up bird watching
- Knit, crochet, cross-stitch or sew something for a friend
- Color in a coloring book made for adults
- Create dream boards with paper or on Pinterest
- Kick back and daydream
- Put together a puzzle.
- Meditate or do a guided visualization.
- Do some restorative yoga
- Go for a drive in the country
- Take up a sport that’s relaxing, like golf or swimming.
- Play an instrument in a leisurely way
- Sing a song you love
- Take a nap
- Get outside and garden
- Take care of indoor potted plants
- Do paper crafts, like cardmaking
- Write about something meaningful
- Write a poem
- Do nothing in particular
Holidays are a great opportunity to start a new pattern on rest. And after that period, you must continue including rest habits in your every day, to achieve a better balance in your life. You owe it to yourself.
Nicole Mantzikopoulou, July 2019