Contrary to what the dictionary says, rest is not a four-letter word. It’s a crucial part of wellness. Your nervous system, after all, only has two speeds – fight or flight and rest and digest. Your body simply can’t heal, detox and keep you healthy if you never get quality rest.
On the other hand, sometimes resting is really just a way to avoid doing the important stuff. “Oh, I could go to yoga class (or the gym, or put on an AcaciaTV workout video) but I’m so tired! I really just want to lie here and binge watch Bravo.” Tell that to yourself too often and you won’t create the kind of health and vitality that you’re longing for underneath all that tiredness.
How can you tell, then, when rest is what you truly need, and when it’s a sneaky form of self-sabotage?
If you meet any of the following conditions, rest is actually your friend right now:
- It’s the day before, day of, or day after you just got your period. Your body is actually working very hard to shed that uterine lining, and your energy levels are at the lowest they’ll be all month long. In yoga, they say that the quieter you can be on Day 1 of your period (i.e., the day it starts), the better you’ll feel the entire rest of the month.
- You sit quietly for a minute, close your eyes, and feel like there’s a lead apron weighing you down – or that if you could just put your head down for 2 minutes, you’d fall asleep. Guess what, you’re tired. You need rest.
- You’ve got a virus with symptoms that are showing up below your neck. Chest congestion, racking coughs, body aches, fever and chills are all signs that it’s time to rest up. If you’ve got a head cold or the sniffles, getting your blood and lymph—the waste removal fluid of the immune system—moving will help your body ward off the germs.
- You long to kick it on the couch but it always feels like that’s an option that’s just unavailable to you. If you are dreaming of a day to do nothing—really yearning for it in a way that doesn’t go away—find a way to do it. Maybe it’s just a morning or an afternoon, but that kind of a desire that sticks with you even when you try to it ignore it is here for a reason. And in this case, the reason is you need downtime. You’ll have much more energy on the other side to go out and kick butt, I promise.
- You’re either losing your focus and getting ansty and fidgety, or you’re getting cranky and irritable. Think of a kid who doesn’t want to go to sleep—they either get all wound up or prone to melting down. We react in a lot of the same ways. Perhaps not as dramatically, but the basic types of behaviors are present in both little and big humans. If you feel like you’re either on the verge of a tantrum or about to bounce off into outer space, give yourself 15 minutes in a quiet, dark room and I just bet you’ll drift off all on your own.
The good news is that giving yourself the rest you need when you need it is a fast and incredibly effective reboot. An extra 20 minutes of sleep – whether you go to bed early or allow yourself to doze off in the afternoon – can make a world of difference in your mood, alertness, productivity and even immunity and digestion!
If you’re not meeting any of these criteria, go and do whatever it is you’re resisting—whether that’s a workout or a phone call you’ve been avoiding. Facing whatever it is you’ve been trying to ignore will be energizing, I promise.