How rest is important for self-care
“Take care”. It’s a phrase that we throw around quite a lot, not only to friends and family but even to strangers. We bid a shopkeeper goodbye and we tell them to “take care”. It’s a lovely thing.
But how often do we take our own advice to “take care”?! In today’s fast-paced, work-centric society, we rarely remember to look after ourselves properly. We work too hard, we party too much and we sleep too little. Even our so-called leisure activities, things like yoga, for example, have lost their mindful roots to be replaced by a competitive streak.
We strive to push ourselves constantly; whether it’s achieving the perfect headstand or getting that promotion (which we don’t really want anyway). The result? We become stressed, anxious, and burnt-out. We stop enjoying life and start to see it as something to endure instead.
Doesn’t sound very healthy, does it? Fortunately, there is a way to prevent this collision into catastrophe. It’s all about having a little R ‘n’ R. And if rest isn’t a key part of your life right now, it should be.
Here’s how to welcome some rest in:
Rest in your work
This doesn’t mean having a power nap in the middle of the board meeting. But it does mean slowing down once in a while! Often we get so stressed and overwhelmed in work because we don’t take a moment to pause and reflect. Tasks seem to pile up and our “fight or flight” response sends our cortisol levels into overdrive.
Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! But by simply taking a little “time out” once or twice a day – say, when you first arrive in the office and after lunch – things will look a lot clearer.
During these 5 minutes or so, make a list of what needs to be done. Writing your tasks down in this way makes them seem more manageable…and you get that lovely feeling of satisfaction when you get to cross them off!
However, you still aren’t resting properly if you’re making lists. So when you’re having your cup of tea or coffee at 11 am, or popping outside for lunch, enjoy some rest time then. Leave your work behind you, try not to look at your phone and just savor this peaceful time; however short it may be.
If you take care of yourself during your working hours this way, you’ll be less anxious, more productive and generally happier in what you do.
Rest in your exercise
Lots of exercises start with a warm-up: soccer, football, basketball and even yoga. But although we’re advised to do a “cool-down” to finish, this part often gets left by the wayside.
I’ve been to too many yoga classes recently where they skip Savasana (the “corpse” pose, or relaxation position) at the end of class in favor for a high-energy climax. With all that excess energy bouncing around the body, it’s hard to readjust to the world outside!
Relaxation should be a key part of your exercise routine. First of all, the muscles need to rest in order to grow stronger; otherwise, you run the risk of over-stretching and injury. Second of all, including rest time during your workout, is wonderful for the mind. It allows you to bring your focus back if your mind has been wandering, and to be more receptive to all the benefits that exercise can bring.
So next time you’re going for a run or planning on hitting the gym, remember to include a few minutes of “rest time” afterward. Trust me, you’ll feel all the better for it!
Rest in your personal life
Instead of filling your days and evenings with back-to-back activities, try and incorporate an hour of decent rest into your daily life.
Now, this doesn’t mean flaking out on the couch with Netflix!
That’s fine for a while but watching TV isn’t actually that restful; because your mind is still active. Instead, before bedtime, try reading a book. Or having a bath. Or meditating. Or giving yourself a facial. All of these activities are great to do after a busy day – they relax your body and mind, setting you up for a better sleep, whenever and however you nod off.
Rest should be a mainstay in your weekend, too. I know, I know – you’ve worked hard all week and the weekend is for play! But do you really think all those girls’ nights, or family get-togethers, or even hikes in the mountains, are the best way to recharge your body for the week ahead?
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with these activities…we deserve a little downtime, after all! But it’s all about finding the right balance. By all means, go out and have fun. Then try to carve out a little rest time, say on Sunday evening, to truly relax. Turn down invitations if you have to; this time is yours.
So that’s about it in the R ‘n’ R stakes for now! Follow these quick tips and you’ll soon notice the benefits of taking real care of yourself.
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2018.