The Simple Truth About the Benefits of Rest
A simple word, right?!
But oh so complex in actuality.
And somehow it seems that rest has gotten a bad rap lately – like there is so much to be done, one better not even think about resting.
Case-in-point: One of my friends often says “Rest?! No way. I can rest all I want when I’m dead.”
Hmm, interesting they should say that, don’t you think?
Sounds like an opportune time to delve into a few simple truths about the benefits of rest.
We understand rest as the time to cease working or doing something so that we may relax, refresh, or recover.
It may be for a few minutes, an hour or a night.
It may mean doing something restful as in reading a book, listening to music, going for a walk or enjoying company. Or it may mean actually doing nothing, like taking a short nap, sleeping for hours.
But do we have an understanding of why it is so imperative that we actually do relax, refresh, and recover?
Our society certainly does not foster rest. We are bombarded with instantly gratifying, ‘don’t miss out’, competitive demands 24/7. There’s no time to waste! And no time to be dis-connected.
And then we mirror this in our own daily lives: to-do lists that continuously grow, activities back to back to back, frequent message alerts and notifications, multi-tasking…need I say more?
Rest befits your mind
Calming your mind
Your mind is going a million miles an hour and in just as many directions, hardly conducive to focusing or problem-solving. By resting, your mind gets a break. Amen! Your mind can finally chill.
That is when the magic happens. You notice that you are able to concentrate more and retain more information.
See, your mind needs downtime in order to replay and process the day’s events. When you give it that downtime, thoughts become clearer, ideas sink in and your memory gets a boost. Calming your mind also helps your ability to focus and problem solve. Rest stimulates new pathways in the brain, allowing pieces of information to connect in new and different ways. All of this adds up to one well-oiled, primed mind ready to embrace the world.
How many of you wake up in the middle of the night with incredible ideas or solutions? Right?! Why? Because your body is at rest. You are not distracted by every little thing. You can hear yourself think. Your body is recharging and has more energy. Rest, whether it is a night’s sleep or a quick break, inspires creativity by allowing you to reconnect with your inner self and the flow of creativity that so often gets shut off due to all else going on in your life. Take advantage of this direct access to wisdom and insight.
Rest befits your Body
Recharging your energy
When your cellphone battery is low you recharge it. When your gas tank is empty you fill it up. When your body is tired you…push onward?! See?! No! When your body is tired you need to treat it with as much concern as you do your other ‘necessities’.
Rest allows your body to recharge and generate more energy. Even a ten-minute break to listen to music, stare at the wall or close your eyes, helps. And then, of course, a good night’s sleep also helps.
Healing your body
Your body can do a pretty good job taking care of itself if you let it. However, it does need periods of rest in order to do this to the best of its ability. When you are constantly on the go, your body is robbed of the time and energy needed to repair itself.
If that time and energy is being used for other purposes, that is often when you become fatigued and get sick, something none of us wish for ourselves.
So give yourself a booster shot - take regular rest breaks.
Keeping you trim
Looking to lose some weight? Make sure you are getting enough rest! Hormones that control the appetite are released when you sleep. A study at the University of Chicago found that this leads you to feeling less hungry and losing more fat. Who knew that rest could do that!
Is the word ‘stress’ trying to offer us a clue as to how to combat it? Rearrange its letters and you get…ressst! Yes, rest eases stress. You can feel your body respond as soon as you ease up, slow down, and just BE.
Firing up your heart
Okay now, when you feel less stressed, are at a healthy weight, are generating more energy, with a body more able to repair itself, your heart is happier! All of these little actions combine to strengthen the health of your heart, you know, that fist-sized organ that keeps you humming along each and every moment of your life.
Rest benefits your Spirit
Believe it or not, you are an evolving, growing person. You may feel stagnant or ‘boring’, but by setting aside time to rest, you allow yourself the time to reflect, try out new things, consciously affirm your choices, or just ‘BE’. Each of these nurture insight and clarity of the Self. Imagine what you may learn!
Encouraging the freedom to receive
Think about it. When you are in the middle of going, going, going and doing, doing, doing, how much of that entails giving: of yourself, your time, your resources? How much of that entails receiving? If your giving-receiving balance is out of whack, stop!
Honor yourself by taking time to rest. As you rest you open yourself to receive: calm, peace, thoughts, time to ‘just be’, support, etc. Giving and receiving go hand-in-hand, in a never-ending cycle. In order to give, you must also receive, otherwise you have nothing left to give. Embrace the gift of time for rest. Do it for yourself, which in turn allows you to do for others.
Elevating your mood
Feeling down? Take a rest break! The simple act of resting allows you to feel less stressed and more content. Whether you go for a walk, close your eyes for a few minutes, read a book or talk with a friend, it helps transform your mood and perspective. And each little bit that your mood improves, it multiplies exponentially. You are feeling much better before you know it!
Pretty impressive stuff, huh? All those benefits for the cost of some rest.
So, what is next for you?
If you are satisfied with your rest-to-activity balance, give yourself a pat on the back. Awesome! Your mind, body and spirit thank you for your attentiveness.
If you are not satisfied with it, plan your next steps. Schedule time each day/week just for rest. Start small, maybe ten minutes. I know it is difficult to think of taking time ’just to rest’ when there are so many other pressing things to accomplish, but take the chance and have faith. That little break can lead to an increase in productivity, thus getting more accomplished in less time and thereby feeling happier. Win-win-win!
Whatever you do, avoid waiting until you are dead to rest. No sense rushing it, right?
Live your life to its fullest and deepest by honoring the value of rest now.
“Learning how to rest will become your great strength.”
If the sun is shining, my Crosstrek is calling me to fill up her tank, throw open her sunroof, and head for the back-roads. With wind in my hair, I smile at everyone I see. Grace smiles back at me (even through the trees).