You can recharge your life with rest.
It seems we live in a society where we are expected to just go go go. Rest is considered indulgent and most people I meet these days feel guilty at the thought of taking a minute just to do nothing. True?
I truly believe a rested body is a healthy body!
More than that, studies show that sleep and rest are essential building blocks of the body and mind: you learn better if you take a nap after studying, and retain more information long term. You become stronger and leaner more quickly if you periodise your training (taking rest days, and easy weeks), and you avoid the dreaded corporate ‘skinny-fat’ figure that is driven by cortisol and relentless effort. You are exhausting yourself!
Pushing your body into overdrive will manifest physically through tight neck and shoulders and usually digestive malfunctions such as, gas, bloating, acid reflux and all the symptoms attendant on an imbalance of good and bad gut flora. A stressed body cannot digest food properly!
We all are dominated by our sympathetic nervous systems (that’s the ‘fight or flight’ response) and we hardly activate our parasympathetic nervous system (which is in charge of your rest and repair).
We breathe shallowly from our chests rather than from our diaphragms, signaling to our nervous system that stress is coming. Because of this you can say hello to hormonal havoc in your body as cortisol and adrenalin are being pumped through your blood without you even knowing it; the boost of these hormones long term causing your body adrenal exhaustion and an overall hormonal imbalance that can lead to some nasty complications such as depression, weight gain, estrogen dominance, insulin resistance (stress has a direct impact on your blood sugar levels), chronic fatigue and fertility issues.
What’s worse that this? People nowadays are adding extra stress to their already stressed out life. “I need to run for an hour today after work!”; “I need to see this friend and that friend!”; “I have a to-do-list that is never ending!”; “Weekend is here – I have so much to do!”. You should be resting on your weekends!
I encourage you to try take a moment, to rest, to breathe.
When you take the time to sit and rest even for a few minutes a day (this is why meditation is so powerful) you are allowing for your body on a cellular level to recharge itself. Having a simple bath or shower with a few diaphragmatic breaths can be enough to just re-infuse your inner light.
Because when you do you will actually find that you are more present and have more energy for your children, partner and greater clarity of mind to perform at work and to get through the day without being angry at the world.
What I do to incorporate rest into my life:
- Daily meditation practice
- Daily breathing exercises- 20 diaphragms breathes every night before bed time/ as you awake in the morning.
- Yin exercises rather than yang- yoga, tai chi, body balance class at your gym rather than a spin class! Restorative exercises- simply lying in Savasana yoga pose 2x/day!
- A daily bath with lavender oil
- Herbal tea and 1/2 hour of reading a magazine
- 15 mins/1/2 hour brisk walk
- Tea with a friend
- Massage – get your blood flowing
- Ayurveda treatment- hello healing!
- 8 hours of sleep – you know this by now!
- Acupuncture to restore energy flow
- 1 hour of baking/cooking a treat
- 1 hour of my favourite TV show – TV is relaxing, who cares!
- I say ‘NO’ to social arrangements when I am feeling overwhelmed and instead I choose the time to lay low, read, walk or go for a massage. Your friends will be there for you – if you can’t go to that party then arrange to meet for a walk or some tea. Go to yoga together!
A note on physical activity:
We are not designed to push our bodies to the limit, day after day. Yes, we must keep active, but general movement, play and 2 or 3 half hour sessions of interval training a week is enough for our bodies to burn energy, keep hearts healthy and keep our metabolism at optimal level. I am repeating myself I know, but if we overdo the gym we exhaust our adrenals, which are a central part of our endocrine system hormones. Overtraining in this way depletes us, and leaves us hormonally unbalanced, releasing the toxic stress hormone cortisol, which enhances belly fat storage and leaves you suffering from fatigue, insomnia and musculoskeletal breakdown.
Rather than churning and grinding on a cardio machine for hours each day, try lower impact activities with a mental health aspect to enhance your joy and body-awareness.
I am a big fan of yoga, pilates or body balance to get you back in touch with your real self.
It is ok if you wake up some days and think ‘today is a day I need to give my body a rest.’ When you are in balance your body will tell you what it needs! It is ok to listen – your body is smart!
Now, can you all go away and incorporate some rest into your life? Please.
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