How often do you rest?
I mean truly rest, with simply the intention of doing nothing other than recharging the batteries, relaxing the mind and renewing your energy levels?
Now let me state here that resting doesn't include a hobby or activity where you are 'doing something that relaxes you' such as reading, exercising or watching TV. It also doesn't include the times when you go to bed and sleep or crash out on the sofa. I mean just stopping. I mean sitting or lying down and doing nothing but resting for the sake of resting.
So how often do you choose to find stillness and properly give yourself permission to rest?
Rarely or Never Resting
For many people the answer is very rarely or even never. We constantly move from one activity to the next, work from one to-do list to another and our minds are busily trying to keep up with these never-ending demands. We have so much pressure nowadays in terms of work, hobbies, family life, keeping fit and social pressure, that our minds are almost always in a constant state of working, thinking and trying to sort the wood for the trees.
I know myself with having a baby, running two businesses and trying to keep vaguely healthy I have a constant battle of time, energy and mental capacity... and sometimes all of these run out.
Technology Keeps Us Constantly Connected
One thing that I have also noticed in today's society is the regular use of technology - it has changed our daily habits and means that we are constantly switched on. Many people use their smart phones for emails, social media, checking the news, setting alarms, taking photos - in fact we are constantly picking up our phones and checking things (and even sometimes making calls). These phones are in our pockets, in our bags, with us on public transport and go everywhere with us - even sleeping next to us at night. (Check out my recent article here about how we touch our phones more than our babies.)
I know that at one point I got into the habit of checking my phone as soon as I woke up and before I went to sleep. I was constantly connected - checking my Instagram, Facebook, replying to emails, answering messages and reading the news. It was so convenient and easy - but I just couldn't put it down. And the result of this is that your mind never switches off from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed. You are always in a state of alert - ready to spring in to action at any point.
So Why Should We Rest?
It is really important for the body to rest and switch off at times. We need to recharge the batteries, stop and be still so that when we face the world again we make good decisions, think clearly and enjoy our lives.
If we never rest we keep the body in a permanent start of fight-or-flight, with the 'alert' type of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol surging around in our bodies. I mean these hormones are great if you do need to fight a battle or run away from something, but in reality we rarely come face-to-face with big scary lions or go into battle. We are simply trying to navigate the complex social pressures thrown at us daily. Being constantly alert puts stress on the body and mind and without proper rest we experience things like insomnia, anxiety, stress, depression and numerous other serious health complaints including high blood pressure and heart problems.
So What Can You Do to Rest More?
Well, I don't mean to be Mrs Doom and Gloom because actually taking a little time out to rest can work wonders for our physical and mental health. It is something so simple but will help you to balance hormone levels and the nervous system, improve sleep, calm the mind, boost the immune system and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which allows your body to relax, heal and find wellness.
So, with this in mind I invite you to rest for simply 5-10 minutes per day.
I know this can actually be quite a challenge, so I will give you two suggestions for how to do this:
1. Seated Mindful Breathing
The first way to bring a little rest into your day is to sit and mindfully connect with the breath. To do this, sit in a comfortable seated position, lengthen the spine and close the eyes, resting the hands on the legs. Start by simply watching the inhale and watching the exhale. Let the breath find a natural rhythm. Notice the spaces between the inhale and exhale. Notice the small movements in the chest and belly as you breathe. Let the breath slow down - let it be natural and calm. Relax the body on every exhale. If random thoughts pop into your head try counting the breath to regain your focus. In for 6 counts and out for 6 counts. Keep it relaxed and steady. Notice the air flowing in through the nose, down into the lungs and back out again. Notice the sound of your breath. Stay here watching the breath for a few minutes. When you have finished, gently flicker the eyelids open, take a few deep breaths to re-energise and continue with your day.
2. Taking a Guided Relaxation (Yoga Nidra)
Listening to a guided relaxation or Yoga Nidra Meditation can truly help you to rest and get into a really deep state of relaxation. Even taking just a short 5-10 minute relaxation can work wonders. Simply lay down, get really comfortable, close your eyes and listen to the recording. To access a FREE 10 minute Yoga Nidra relaxation please click here.
I also have a range of longer guided relaxations available to download if you really enjoy this way to relax and rest. Click here for details.
Daily Permission to Rest
I hope that after reading this blog you give yourself permission to rest on a more regular basis. I would suggest that 5-10 minutes per day is ideal or even more if you can!
Enjoy your rest.
Note: If you would like to find out more about Yoga Nidra click here