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How to rest in every area of your life (and why you need it)

September 22, 2022 - 13 min read

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Why rest is necessary

Steer clear from the screen

How to rest: Best practices

For the future: What are the benefits of resting?

It's cliché to say that life moves pretty fast, but it does. You have busy workdays that turn into busy work months. You're taking care of your family, hanging out with friends, and keeping up with your daily routine. Before you know it, you've forgotten to take time to rest. And your body feels it, mentally and physically. 

Learning how to rest sounds simple, but you might need a refresher. Have you heard of emotional rest, sensory rest, or social rest? It's more than simply taking regular naps. Incorporating more rest into your routine might be difficult, but your body will thank you for it the next day and for years to come.

In this article, we'll explain why rest is necessary for everyone. Plus, we'll talk about effective and not-so-effective ways to rest your body and how you'll benefit from routine rest. Take a deep breath, and let's begin.

 

Why rest is necessary

You might feel like you have to constantly be doing something each day. Sometimes you think you're lazy if you choose rest over doing something. It's like if you're not continually working toward your goals, you're wasting time. But that's false. No matter how tempted you are to pretend you’re a machine, you're not.

Waiting until you're at the end of your rope to rest isn't good, either. Even when you experience short-term stress, your body is full of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which keep your body on high alert. That means you're not resting. When you aren't getting a good night's sleep, are approaching burnout at work, or have too many stimuli elsewhere, your body can't rest.

When you think about the importance of rest, you should be thinking about taking time to just be, rather than to do. Resting your body doesn't mean you must be completely still. It's more than just fixing your sleep schedule, too. Rest is recovering from burnout and experiencing all the upsides of reducing burnout in your life.

It's also choosing to be comfortable with your own thoughts, prioritizing your health and well-being, and doing things you’re passionate about. Take time to daydream, reflect, and be mindful. If your mind is calm and you're living in the moment, you’ll recharge. 

It's OK if you're not great at resting right now. Full resting your mind and body takes commitment, but we believe in you.

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Steer clear from the screen

When it's time to rest, do you reach for your phone? After a long day at work, your idea of rest might be jumping on the couch and scrolling through social media. But that's not a good way to rest. Many people think it is, but it doesn't give your brain a short break. It works your brain even more.

Your brain is a muscle, just like your legs, so you need to rest it. And your brain doesn't rest when you're focused on the bright lights from social media, watching TV, or playing video games. It's still receiving information and stimuli. With all that happens in the world, scrolling through the news or other social media posts may stress you out or upset you.

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Too many stimuli from anywhere, especially on your screens, is overwhelming.

Not to mention it messes with your sleep schedule. Blue light, which is emitted from screens, has been found to disrupt sleep patterns because it suppresses the secretion of the hormone melatonin. Without melatonin, your body's circadian rhythm is out of shape and you don't get enough sleep.

Besides your sleep schedule, the rest of your brain suffers when you rely on screens as a way to rest. One study about excessive screen time during the pandemic discovered a variety of impacts on your physical and mental health. Here's what happens when you spend too much time on screens:

  • Increased feelings of anxiety, irritability, and uncertainty
  • Painful eye strain that can damage overall eye health
  • Problems concentrating and focusing on specific tasks
  • Persistent headaches that zap energy
  • Neck and lower back pain that impacts mobility

It's difficult to break habits you've practiced for so long. At BetterUp, our coaches will help you steer clear of old patterns that don't help your body rest, like using screens, and guide you toward new, relaxing strategies.

How to rest: Best practices

You have plenty of ways to rest besides napping. Learning about all the different types of rest is a fun way of incorporating new activities into your daily routine. It's a way to explore sensory rest, social rest, or even creative rest. This helps you beat physical and mental exhaustion and energize your body for the next day.

But as you start practicing more resting ways, remember to set boundaries. Let others know that your rest time is a priority for you, and other things can wait, or that it's OK to say no to more strenuous activities and choose restful ones. However, if you decide to rest, make sure that it's something you dedicate your time to.

Here are six ways to practice rest:

1. Take part in meditation

Meditation is something that fits in your morning or night routine, or anywhere in your day, really. You might choose to meditate alone or with others. Explore different types of meditation, like a mantra, movement, or spiritual meditation. It's a way of spreading calm throughout your mind and being aware of how your body feels.

2. Practice slow-moving exercises

Not all exercises have to have high intensity and make you feel exhausted. Yoga, pilates, and tai chi allow you to slow your body down but remain active. They focus on being purposeful with your movements and relaxing. Plus, they do without straining your muscles.

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If you feel you’re straining your muscles, check out more beginner classes and go at your own pace. You might also find good YouTube videos with beginner workouts to follow along with from home.

3. Take care of your hygiene

After an intense day, your body wants to feel rejuvenated and refreshed. Soaking in a bath, taking a shower, doing a face mask, or other forms of self-maintenance will help your body feel fresh again. It's also a form of self-care that many people find comfort in.

Try throwing on some candles or using a bath balm to infuse some aromatherapy into your cleaning moment. In the heat of the moment, even brushing your teeth might help you feel cleaner and calmer.

4. Do your daily ritual

Is there something that you do during the day that makes you feel at ease? It could be making a cup of tea, sitting outside at sunset, or enjoying a nice dinner. As you do your ritual, feel free to throw on a relaxing playlist to set the mood.

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Being comfortable with what you're doing allows you to think freely about other things. It's your chance to reflect or admire something. If you don’t have a solid daily ritual, it’s time to build one.

5. Dedicate time to a hobby

Your hobby could give you a sense of purpose and make you feel rested. It doesn't have to require a lot of energy. It could be fishing, knitting, or painting — something that you enjoy but that doesn't demand too much energy or brain power. You might share this restful practice with someone else, which helps strengthen your relationships. Plus, it's fun.

6. Catch up with your journal

Journalling doesn't require amazing writing skills at all. Your journal might be a physical notebook, or it could be a virtual note pad too. It could be something you do each day or every other day.

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Dedicate a certain amount of time each day to your journal. That might be in the morning or at night before you go to bed. Write your laughs, worries, or ideas from the day. Plus, you're able to do this anywhere. Try journaling in the fresh air or in a space that feels peaceful to you.

For the future: What are the benefits of resting?

Learning how to rest your mind and body may seem easy, but there's more to it than you think. You're trying to slow down, clear your mind, and be in the present moment. With so many distractions and things keeping you busy, it's easy to feel pulled toward action. But the benefits of rest can’t be ignored.

Rest helps you fight off decision fatigue, which will help you make better decisions in life. Making decisions easier and with more confidence allows you to be more productive, motivated, and creative at work and home. 

Here's a quick list of other benefits that rest brings your physical and mental health:

  • Helps you cope with change better
  • Decreases your blood pressure
  • Relieves stress and anxiety
  • Improves your overall mood
  • Helps repair muscle tissues and injuries

Besides those benefits, learning how to rest is a skill that your well-being will cherish in the future. It'll show you the importance of caring for your mind and body and how our resting time is priceless. It’s also a great form of self-compassion. 

Find someone who'll provide the guidance you need as you make smart moves that'll help your health in the future. Through a relationship with a BetterUp coach, you'll learn how to prioritize rest in your daily routine and enjoy its benefits for years to come.

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Published September 22, 2022

Erin Eatough, PhD

Sr. Insights Manager

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