Episode 105 – The power of rest

Episode 105 - The power of rest
(and it’s not about sleep)

Aaah rest.  Something we no longer seem to know how to do.  Our hustle culture has expectations that we have to be on the go constantly, and rest is a reward for working yourself to exhaustion, causing us to feel guilty when we take a break.  So today, I want to ponder on what rest really is, and different ways we can add it to our day.

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Transcript of episode

Hello loves,

Aaah rest. Something we no longer seem to know how to do. Our hustle culture has expectations that we have to be on the go constantly, and rest is a reward for working yourself to exhaustion, causing us to feel guilty when we take a break. So today, I want to ponder on what rest really is, and different ways we can add it to our day.

Rest is essential. It’s not the same as sleep. We need rest to flourish. It’s no coincidence it starts the word restorative. Not getting enough rest can leave us feeling tired, stressed, and overwhelmed. When I don’t have enough rest, I can feel anxious. It doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep I’ve had. We don’t need to spend a couple of hours on the sofa to rest.

There are many different ways that we can take restorative breaks in our day.

The first most obvious one is to do nothing.

You don’t always need to be doing things. Give yourself permission to say no and slow down. It’s not about being weak, and it’s not lazy. If anything, allowing yourself the time to rest is actually a strength. It’s not easy to put yourself first.

Tune into your body.

Everyone gets aches and pains from being in the same position all day. With a chronic illness these can be exacerbated. When we tune into our body we can notice if something needs stretching to improve circulation, even laying down. I’ve become quite adept to ignoring pain over the years, probably how I get myself through marathons, yet I have also learned that the pains caused by my illness are eased when I have trained either with weights or running. Maybe because the muscles have healing to do, and not time to waste by being a nuisance.

Spend time in solitude.

No surprise that an introvert would suggest this one! Spending time alone is not the same as being lonely. Loneliness is disconnection from self and others. Solitude is the space away from everything else where you can be yourself. Solitude allows you to gather your thoughts, tap into your feelings, and discover new insights that can spark creativity. Mute the mobile and spend time doing something you love.

Create mental breathing spaces.

Everyone gets forgetful and gets brain fog. We have so much information in our brains and so much to do. Add an illness to this, and it’s all fun and games. I slur my words when mine is bad. Then the sleep difficulty kicks in. Mental breathing space can help this. Our eyes take in a tonne of information for our brain to process. I have a space at home with very little on the walls so I can give my brain a break from processing info. You can take a few deep breaths with your eyes shut. Anything that requires very little mental energy.

Micro breaks are great. Gently roll your shoulders. Make a cup of tea or coffee and take time to smell it, feel the heat on the cup, listen to the kettle, notice the taste sensations as you drink it. Or gaze out of the window and watch nature doing what it does best.

Treat your feet.

Oh our poor feet. They put in a lot of hours don’t they. They have many acupressure points on them that link throughout our body. If you can afford it, try some reflexology. Or you can try some self massage, give them a soak, or roll them around on a tennis ball.

Lastly, get active.

Seems counter-intuitive and many people with my illness will talk often about post-exercise malaise and how we shouldn’t exercise. I know many people with my illness who do so much better when they exercise. Me included. The key point to it, is knowing your limit. Many studies have shown that active repetitive movement, even ten minutes a day, have a calming effect on the brain. 

My level of exercise will depend on how I am doing, which is why it’s so important to tune into your energy and hormone cycles. On my good days I go for a run or lift weights. On days I don’t feel as great I’ll go for a walk or chill out in a swimming pool (you don’t have to swim lengths). On my worst days I’ll do bed yoga. Slow, gentle stretching, laying or sitting down. Usually when I go to bed because 9 times out of ten I’m asleep within a few minutes. I have fallen asleep in many yoga classes over the years, even before diagnosis.

On the days that you can’t get outside for a walk, open a window so you can hear the sounds and walk for a couple of minutes around the house. If there’s a room that the sun is shining into, even better.

Often times when we have a need to be chosen it is a sign we need to choose ourselves.

And remember, you are worth it, and you get to choose.

Have a lovely day.