“I’ll sleep when I am dead”. “I feel too guilty to rest”. “I don’t have time to rest”. Have you ever said or heard things like this?
An issue with modern culture is the emphasis we have on “doing”. We always need to be busy and getting stuff done. The more productive we are the better.
It may seem that this is true, but studies show that when people take breaks, rest their bodies, and have time for themselves, they are more productive and happier.
Check out this article from Harvard Health (Link: Sleep and Mental Health – Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Health) it explains that a good night’s sleep can create more mental and emotional resilience.
Rest and sleep are NOT privileges, they are basic human needs.
That’s right, humans NEED rest. Sleep and rest should always be prioritized over work, exercise, chores, bills, or play. Because we need it to survive.
It’s clear to me that living with little sleep and rest is not working for the collective. The amount of people who struggle with anxiety, stress, depression, unhappiness, injury, chronic pain, divorce, acute or long-term diseases are all increasing with each passing year. And though there are many contributing factors, I would argue that too little rest is one of the main factors.
Rest, what is it?
Rest can be many things. It can be a good night sleep, or a nice nap. However, it can also simply be: “being”.
Being vs. Doing
We all have two energies in us, the “doing” energy and the “being” energy. You can imagine this as outgoing energy and ingoing energy, respectively. To feel a sense of balance and peace in our lives, we must surrender to our biology. Healing is about working with Nature not against it. And human-beings are a part of Nature. It’s easier to go with the grain than against it.
When we are just “being”, we are not preoccupied with TV or social media. Or chores or bills. Or our relationships. We are in the moment, relaxing and just being alive. When we can ‘just be’, our nervous systems begin to settle, and our minds begin to quiet down. When we rest, truly rest, something profound happens, we begin to heal.
7 ways to rest
1. Sleep 8-9 hours a night. The key is to go to bed on time. Do not stay up late! Go to bed by 10pm or even 9pm. This is closest to a natural sleep cycle and allows you to get up on time.
2. Make a morning ritual. Take some time in the morning to light a candle, breath, and just be with yourself. Check in, how’s your body feel? How are your emotions?
3. Meditate. Clear your mind and breathe. Focus on a chant. Or try a breathing method such as Kundalini yoga meditations. Or find a guided meditation on YouTube or Insight Timer. Make space to just be with yourself.
4. Ground. Put your bare feet on the earth. Walk, sit or lay on grass or dirt. Feel the earth beneath your feet and breath. Take in being alive! Go at night and gaze at the stars. Or put your feet into the sand and watch a sunset.
5. Stoke your pet. Petting your animal has great benefits for your nervous system. It’s soothing and calming for both you and your pet. It can help us to stop and be in the moment.
6. Cozy up. Find your favorite place in your home, perhaps a window that looks into the garden or a cozy reading nook. Get comfy and curl up here. Maybe with a good cup of tea. And just be. No need to read or bring your journal. Just be here and feel the comfort and relaxation. Melt into it.
7. Take a steamy bath or shower. Warm water helps to relax the central nervous system. Visualize the water clearing all negative energy off your body and feel yourself being purified and nourished.
“Doing nothing often leads to the very best something” -Winnie the Pooh