Crossing things off a to-do list feels very productive. However, we often don’t categorize sleep, rest, or taking a relaxing day off as productive at all. In fact, many people consider “rest” as synonymous with “laziness”. But thinking of rest in this negative context can actually lead to less productivity - whether in work, health, or with finding happiness in our lives.
How Rest Reduces Stress
Think about an athlete. When athletes train, they will workout one group of muscles at a time, such as arms one day and legs the next. They allow each muscle group to rest and repair while they focus their attention on another area. If they didn’t allow those muscles to repair, their results would not be as drastic and their workouts wouldn’t be nearly as productive.
In this way, rest is important to reducing stress. When we go through our days without pausing to take a break, we ignore time that is vital for repair. When we are at rest, our bodies can effectively digest food and absorb nutrients, our minds can reorganize our thoughts and linger on solutions to problems, and we can find balance and ease within ourselves.
If we do not pause, we do not allow time for these natural processes. We stay at heightened stress levels all day long. This can lead to difficulty sleeping, and poor sleep is linked to a whole other list of health problems.
How to Be Less Stressed
Because of the heightened stress in the modern world, we tend to push relaxation off. There are just too many things to accomplish in a day, and taking a step back can not only seem impossible but unimportant when we are already stretched so thin.
However, rest is not something that should be taken lightly. When we work too hard without a break, our lives can easily get knocked out of balance. Instead of going full-tilt all day long, embrace rest by:
Scheduling a reminder.
Simply blocking off 30 minutes on your calendar can do wonders for prioritizing rest. Remember, this is not a time for chores, it’s a designated time to relax. Use the time to go for a walk, meditate, write in your journal, or take a quick nap.
Making your space more simple.
There is a reason why minimalism has become such a big part of popular culture. When your space is full of clutter and items you don’t use or need, you psychologically feel overwhelmed by an endless list of things to organize or clean. Create a clutter-free space within your home, and your mind will feel more at ease.
Mental health has become more acceptable as a form of strength as opposed to an admission of weakness. Many healthcare plans include some form of mental health, so reach out to your provider to see what kind of coverage is available. Even speaking to a therapist just once a month to work through stressful issues can help you to better understand your needs, and get a good sense of where to create rest in your life.
Keeping it simple.
Rest can be whatever you want it to be. Relax by taking a long hot shower, or coloring in your child’s coloring book. It can be flipping through a magazine, or painting your fingernails. Rest can be turning off your phone for 30-minutes. Don’t overthink rest, just keep it simple.
When we create time to rest, we create the space for growth, healing, and balance. We prepare our minds and our bodies to handle true moments of stress, and learn to not linger on the little things. Allowing time to take small breaks throughout the day creates a sense of ease, and helps reduce stress for a healthier and happier life.
[Becker, Joshua. “The Lost Practice of Resting One Day Each Week.” Becoming Minimalist.]
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