Do you make time for rest, real rest? Not a“break” to do something else, or scroll social media, but true, deep and meaningful rest.
Society rewards the “Hustle culture” but that is in fact killing us. Literally.
Before we get into stats* on how overwork is harming our health, both mentally and physically - let’s talk about those of us who find our identity,not just in what we do, but in how much we get done in a day. Rest is important because every day we are doing emotional work, physical work, relationship/relational work, intellectual work. We need rest to recharge. We need rest to take a true break from those activities and allow ourselves to replenish and recharge.
But how do we have deep, meaningful rest when we aren’t sure where to start?
We can start by getting all of those things out of our head!
Grab a pen and paper and start making lists:
Who do you need to call?
What gifts do you need to buy?
Errands that need to be done?
Ideas that are in there floating around?
The act of putting pen to paper is helpful in freeing up our mental space and also in slowing us down.
Many cultures believe in rest and incorporate it into their culture. Some cultures, such as Kenya, Argentina, Sweden, Paris and others have built in coffee or tea breaks. Others such as Italy encourage leisure walks for the sake of community, while other cultures incorporate naps and quiet time into their days. The benefits of these cultures are immense. There is a stronger sense of community, health benefits such as reduced heart disease, lower cases of stroke and other diseases such as diabetes.
So in a culture that believes that efficiency and hustle earn us gold medal stars, and sleep as a form of laziness, we come back to the question of how do we find it and more importantly, how do we ensure we are getting it.
Rest is not a sign of weakness, but the very thing that makes us strong
When we are well rested, we are more patient, creative and happy. Rest helps lower our stress. Our bodies and minds heal during deep REM sleep. We show up in our work and personal lives in a much more engaged way when we have slept well.
Trying to find the most restful sleep can take a little bit though. Sometimes we sleep for 8+ hours a night and still wake up exhausted. While there can be many causes of this (one of which being that we are incredibly exhausted and we don’t know it), here are a few others:
- Not having an evening routine
- A racing mind
- Lack of daily exercise
- Decreased melatonin
- Too much alcohol/caffeine, anxiety, trigger points (such as the dreaded Sunday night)
These can all interrupt our sleep.
All hope is not lost even if you are in a stressful period of life. Try making your bedroom a calm and peaceful place that is restful, where you want to be; where you can wind down. Keep a notebook handy so you can write down thoughts that pop into your head, without having to turn your computer back on. Start an evening routine. Leave the TV, computer and phone off at least an hour before bed (blue light disrupts your melatonin and causes you to not head into the most restful REM sleep). Slow your racing mind by deep breathing exercise or meditation before bed. Listening to mellow music or reading can also help you slip off into never never land. Alcohol converts to sugar in your system, sometimes causing you to wake in the middle of the night. Caffeine keeps you awake long after you have consumed it.
Stress and anxiety interrupt our sleep. Being aware of stress and anxiety triggers help us break these patterns, figure out better ways to deal with the trigger and help build new patterns in their place. Keeping a notebook and writing down our feelings also helps us to get them out, and on paper so we can clear them out of our head and if we so choose, go back and look for patterns.
While rest and recharging look a little different for all of us, finding what works for our schedule and our body is what is important. Oh! And letting go of the guilt and the feeling of laziness.
Try out a nap! Turn the TV and screens off earlier in the evening. Try mediation or rain sounds in the bedroom. Think about ways that you can slow down, get in touch with yourself and feel into what your body and mind need.
Make your health a non-negotiable this year by starting with restful sleep. And on that note…..
As we think of how we want to move forward this year, take a moment to reflect. Think back to what drains you, what energizes you, what fires you up. Is it time to let go; of relationships, obligations, expectations, guilt?
It is time to forge a new way. To show up for others in the way we choose to, not in the way that society has set expectations for us. Find ways in which rest and work can go hand in hand.
*The American Heart Journal states that when we don’t rest and work 50+ hours a week leads to increased risk of stroke by 20%. Working more than 60 hours a week leads to heart disease and increased risk of diabetes. Heart.org explains that stress leads to high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Stress also may contribute to such cardiovascular disease risks as smoking, overeating and lack of physical activity.*
In addition to finding time for restful sleep, try to find time for hobbies that reduce your stress. Get some physical activity every day (even a simple 15 minute walk will do!). Drink plenty of water and eat whole foods. Your body and your brain will thank you! If you have enjoyed these tips, follow Stephanie Jones for more https://www.structureandco.com