The benefits of rest – and why it’s definitely not selfish!
Recently there has been a lot of talk in the media about the need for self-care, and I’m a huge advocate of having a good self-care routine built into your lifestyle to help combat anxiety, stress and burnout, however, one of the things we seem to talk about much less is rest.
What is rest? What is the difference between rest and self-care? And do we need to do both?
Even though rest to me is part of self-care, it’s usually very different to what we tend to think of when look at creating our own self-care routines. When I discuss self-care with clients it’s often about activities that re-energise them – a massage, a soak in a bath, a walk with a dog. All of those are great things to introduce into your life and make sure you do regularly, but actual rest – what does that look like for you?
The obvious one that springs to mind is sleep and that often comes with its own issues. How often do you comment to someone that you “don’t feel rested?”
There are however different types of rest – physical, mental, emotional, sensory and social rest – and they’re all areas where we need to pay more attention to.
Mental and emotional rest is allowing ourselves the space and time to focus on ourselves, when we’re not physically active, but can allow ourselves to daydream or sit and think. It might literally mean sitting and staring into space or going for a walk without a reason to do it!
Sensory rest is being able to switch off from screen time or things that over stimulate us. Think about those many moments when we multi-task – texting a friend while watching a film for example – can cause sensory overload. Sometimes we need peace – no radio, no TV, just space to stop and not be bombarded by noise.
Social rest might seem a weird one after been so limited in our social capacity over the last 18 months, but it’s still important to pace yourself and not over commit. Taking a social rest means just choosing wisely when we should be resting instead of engaging.
Rest can be a game changer. Rest can feel impossible at times BUT if we don’t do it, if we don’t listen to our bodies and our minds, we can find ourselves suffering from both physical and mental illness.
For me, it’s the ‘not doing’. It’s that time when you’re definitely NOT multi-tasking. Resting doesn’t always need to be large chunks of time it can be 10/15 minutes here and there, where you just allow yourself to be, to not be doing anything.
This will feel completely alien for some and maybe even feel like a waste of their time, but the results can be immense.
Here are some other ways you can rest – just aim for ten minutes with each of these ideas:
- Sit down with a drink, doing nothing other than drinking it
- Go outside and sit in your garden. Listen to bird song or just focus on the sounds, smells and sights around you
- Walk around the block. This is not a fitness walk, a dog walk or a going somewhere walk – this is a chance just to walk and observe your neighbourhood.
- Lie down and concentre on your breathing. Focus on your body just resting – and try not to fall asleep if it’s a busy day!
- Read a book – pure escapism.
- Walk away from the technology! Ignore any pings or alerts, or even better, put your phone or laptop in another room!
I’m sure you’ll think of some other ways that you too can rest. If you take just ten minutes out of your day to disconnect with the world and rest, you will still get everything done, the world will not cave in, but you will feel better for it!
I would also thoroughly recommend having one day a month, or at least a morning or afternoon set aside to just rest, with nothing planned but recharging those batteries. It might feel impossible now, but once you’ve done it you’ll want to do it again – and again!
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