Five Ways to Embrace Rest
October 24, 2022
Rest — it is not something that comes easily in today’s busy, fast–paced world. Between work emails, global news and social media, it can be difficult to escape the feeling of being “switched on” all the time.
But rest is vitally important for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. Remaining in a state of constant busyness can overwhelm your nervous system, leading to chronic stress, burnout, insomnia and illness. Lack of rest can also hinder your creativity and motivation, and reduce feelings of overall life satisfaction.
Embracing relaxation may feel a bit like going against the grain in our go–go–go society, but the benefits of incorporating more leisure time into your life are well worth the challenges.
1. Give Yourself Permission to Rest
Rest is often portrayed as something that needs to be earned. You may believe that you do not “deserve” to rest until you have handled all your responsibilities and crossed every item off your to–do list. But the truth is, rest is a right that belongs to everyone.
Certainly, staying on top of work, chores and other responsibilities is a necessary part of life. But rest is something your body and mind need in order to function optimally. Denying yourself the right to rest can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression and increased risk of all sorts of chronic illnesses.
Embracing rest begins with acknowledging that you are the creator of your lifestyle, and that you have the power to give yourself permission to rest more.
2. Schedule Your Rest Time
Want to relax? Add it to your to–do list. It may sound counterintuitive, but scheduling time for rest is actually one of the best ways to ensure you do in fact make time for it. Treat your scheduled blocks of rest time as sacred, and set boundaries to ensure they are not disrupted.
Everyone has different daily routines and responsibilities, so consider when you can realistically set aside some time to unwind. Perhaps you are able to carve out thirty minutes at the end of every day to journal and reflect. Maybe you are not able to commit to daily rest time, but would rather block off every Sunday afternoon for relaxation — no emails, no housework, no distractions.
If you have been running on a rest deficit for a while now, you may benefit from a staycation devoted purely to slowing down and doing nothing. Be sure to let your coworkers, friends and family know in advance that you will be unreachable during this time.
3. Practice Mindfulness
The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Embracing rest is easiest when you are truly living in the present moment, because it enables your concerns about the future to fade away. Regardless of whatever deadlines or challenges may be lurking on the horizon, in this moment you can give yourself space to breathe.
One of the best ways to become more present is by practicing mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness means directing your attention to the present moment and maintaining awareness of your own thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations, as well as your external environment. Unlike with other forms of meditation, the goal is not necessarily to empty your mind; rather, the only objective is to observe what is happening within and around you.
There is an entire world of information available at your fingertips at any given moment. Each time you pick up your phone, you unlock instant access to more information than your brain could even begin to process — everything from pregnancy announcements on social media to the latest celebrity scandals, political happenings and natural disasters on the other side of the globe.
Technology can be a wonderful thing, but endless screen time can flood the brain with unnecessary information and overwhelm the nervous system. Internet breaks are important for cognitive health, and can help to combat feelings of stress and anxiety.
Consider scheduling daily blackout periods where you set your phone to “do not disturb.” During this time, only engage in activities that do not require an internet connection, such as reading, going for a walk or sipping a mindful cup of tea.
5. Practice Gratitude
One of the reasons why it can be so difficult to embrace rest is because of the belief that we must always be working toward something better — a better job, a better car, a better house, a better future. Practicing gratitude for all that you already have is an excellent way to find contentment in your current situation, and to achieve peace in the present moment.
Life is not something that begins only after we have curated enough wealth, status, power or other resources — life is happening right now, in each and every moment. There will always be career ladders to climb, housework to manage and personal goals to achieve — but do not let the pursuit of these things become more important than appreciating the gift of each day.
Looking for more ideas to help you embrace rest? Read this next: 5 Daily Rituals to Reduce Stress.