At thirty-nine weeks pregnant, I’ve had a lot of lovely text messages over the last few weeks saying, ‘don’t forget to make sure you rest.’ However, if you are anything like me, resting or sitting still is not something that comes naturally to me.
In a world of busyness, many of us have genuinely forgotten how to...well...rest. It is something we all find increasingly difficult. The brain is constantly being bombarded with information. From radio, to 24-hour news to social feeds and that constant ping of emails. Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness. But a completely rammed diary which demands your time every hour of the day is thoroughly exhausting and doesn’t need to be worn as a badge of honour. Ask many corporate leaders and they will tell you that rest is essential for productivity. Forbes magazine recently wrote, “You can only work so hard and do so much in a day. Everybody needs to rest and recharge.” Your productivity requires rest.
One of my relatives thrives on being full pedal down all the time but equally, I know when he’s exhausted, and he has pushed himself too hard. Taking time to rest is absolutely essential for a balanced, healthy life.
So why do many of us feel so guilty for taking time to rest?
Is it just a culture embedded into us now to ‘get things done’? Everything is urgent. Nobody can afford to waste a moment resting in today’s results-oriented world. Unfortunately, this hectic pace can cause damage. There is a reason we run faster and work harder, but only fall further behind. Our lives have become too full and too out of balance. Somewhere along the way, we lost the essential practice of concentrated rest. In my opinion, when I (finally) rest or sit still is when some of my best creative ideas pop into my mind.
Here are some thoughts on why practicing more rest is good for us.
A Healthy Body - We each get one life and one body to live it in. Therefore, we must eat healthy (most of the time) and we must exercise / keep our bodies active. Rest is as essential to our physical health as the water we drink and the air we breathe.
Reduce Stress - Concentrated rest confronts stress in two ways. First, it reduces the demands of the situation. We have no demands on us as long as we have the ability to mentally let go of unfinished tasks. Secondly, rest reduces stress by increasing our resources, particularly energy.
Reflection - Sometimes it is hard to see the wood for the trees, as the saying goes. Concentrated rest allows us to take a step back, to evaluate things. Sometimes, I use that time of reflection to express gratitude or just to remind myself how far I’ve come on my personal journey.
Increased Productivity - More work is not better work. Smarter work is better work. Listen to your body and take rest when you need it. There is no shame in going to bed at 9pm of your body is craving rest. Resting your physical muscles as well as your body mind allows you the opportunity to rejuvenate. This leads to refocus and more success. In summary, rest is an extension of our contentment and security. Without them, simplicity and rest is difficult, if not impossible.
In summary, consider what small changes you can make in your life to encourage more rest. As parents and caregivers, it is not always easy to find rest when the housework is never finished, the kids always seem hungry and there’s a mountain of life admin to do; but, take small steps to reclaim a little lost rest in your week and who knows how you might feel? A little less frazzled (I hope), a little more focused and a little more rested.
Will you give it a try?