Last updated: April 2023
Rest is freedom from activity or labor. It is a state of motionlessness or inactivity. This includes not moving your body and resting your mind. Many times, our minds and our expectations of ourselves are that we need to do it all. We need to read that book, meet that friend, go to the gym, walk the dog, and so on. We then ignore the need to rest our bodies and our minds.
You can't control everything or do everything all at once. Most likely, you won't finish everything on your to-do list, and you will have to re-prioritize anyways. Remember, that is okay.
Allowing time and space for rest
We tend to forget that we need to accept ourselves and adjust our expectations, as well as allow ourselves to rest. Without the proper rest, we cannot give anything 100 percent. The pressure we put upon ourselves to get everything done or be the best at everything we do is draining.
Some of us stay busy, which could be why we have not processed certain feelings or events yet. Our bodies not only need physical rest and a slow down from time to time, but our mind also needs that mental rest. During a cancer diagnosis and treatment, many of us found ourselves unable to rest or stop the worry running through our minds. Most of us still do that!
How do you know you need more rest? If you are always on the go and have constant stimulation at work or home, you could be experiencing a lot of stress. Stress is a typical culprit of robbing my mental or physical rest. Most importantly, always listen to your body.
Mental rest is purposeful time that you allow your mind to "turn off" or stop trying to process information. Here are some things I like to do to get rest:
- Be intentional with the time you set for your mental (and physical rest). I like to set aside time, ideally each day, for 10 to 15 min.
- Deep breathing. Allowing myself to be still. Take a deep breath in. Try to focus on breathing and not the thoughts that are trying to make themselves known.
- Focusing on where you are and taking it in. Ideally, this happens in a place of comfort and peace. In my comfy bed at home, at the park taking in the sights and sounds. The water, for example, is where I can best disconnect from my thoughts.
- Journaling is a good way to get thoughts down that may be taking over your mental capacity. I like to get them down on paper, then let them go and allow my mind to rest.
- Update your to-do list. Sometimes half the battle is getting all the things I need to do onto paper. It does not mean I need to do it all now, but it will get it out of my head for now.
Just because I am not physically moving does not mean I am resting my mind. I do not find sitting and scrolling on my phone to be restful - it engages my brain, forcing it to process information.
Physical rest is a purposeful time when you allow your body to be still or relaxed. Like your mental rest, we want to "turn off" as much as possible. Here are some tips for how I like to physically rest my body with intention.
Focus on myself and nothing else. Sometimes we think doing something alone or being alone is selfish and unfair to others. I often feel this way when I choose to do something over sitting on the couch watching TV with my husband. Rethink the narrative inside your head. Taking this time to recharge yourself helps you show up to be a better version of yourself. This allows you to be more present for your friends and family.
Relaxed yoga, such as yin style or stretching, helps not only eases aches and pains but it helps my body decompress from a long day or week. It also supports that mental rest I need as well.
Be intentional in selecting an activity that can be done alone or with someone else, like watching a sunset or taking a leisurely walk.
Recharge! Many times, people are just not getting enough sleep. Your body needs the actual rest to recharge and prepare. Get a massage or a facial. Allow yourself some pampering, even if that is a face mask at home.
Getting intentional rest
Do yourself a favor and plan some intentional rest. We all deserve it, and we probably really need it!
What sort of activities do you lean on to unplug and get that mental and physical rest? Let us know in the comments below, or share your story.
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