“If we feel tired, we think something is wrong. Nothing is wrong. We are just tired. We need rest. Sometimes a lot of it, if we’ve gone for years vetoing our body’s signals.” Dr. Claudia Welch
A yoga teacher with a neurobiology background told me recently that every time we hear our phones notify us of a message, our cortisol levels rise. And in the 24/7 always-on modern world we now occupy, most of us are living in a perpetual fight or flight state (we see a triggering email and our body has the same reaction it SHOULD have when we see a bear!).
As a life balance teacher, I believe one of the essential strategies for mitigating speeded up living is to REST. Rest restores our energy levels, helps us integrate and recalibrate, boost productivity and problem-solving and helps us create sustainability in a world that never slows down.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on aging and how I can cultivate energy reserves that allow me to continue to travel, have outdoor adventures and do all the exciting things I plan to do with my family over the next 40 years. I’m convinced, that making rest a priority is key to maintaining a high energy level and to basic self-care. Here are 5 ways to reclaim rest in your life:
1. Change your perspective on rest. You’re a human being-not a human doing and definitely not a robot. Downtime is essential-it’s not just for toddlers or old folks, it should part of our daily routine, just like brushing our teeth.
2. Rest whenever, wherever you can. My husband will sometimes head to his car at lunch for a 20 minute cat-nap! He says he returns to his software job with renewed focus.
3. Give yourself permission to get as much rest as you truly need. And if you’re in the midst of a major life transition or are recovering from a health crisis, don’t be surprised if this ends up looking like weeks instead of days. (After extensive planning and juggling, I’m preparing to take a month off in July for deep “to the marrow” renewal; I’m clear a week just wouldn’t cut it.)
4. Dedicate Saturday or Sunday specifically to rest. And guard this precious time–schedule it, if needed. Read What are Weekends For?
5. Do less to experience more (read more). Research has shown we’re happier when things are simpler and we have less choices. We all crave expanses of unscheduled time. Challenge habitual behavior that keeps you constantly on the go.
My writer friend says she recommends “Doing nothing ….and then resting.” And a wise mentor–who is a huge advocate of building downtime in your schedule–recently joked with me that her business card should say “master rester.”
I was resistant to resting for years, but am now fully on board. I try and rest every afternoon for 20-30 minutes. I am always surprised when my head hits the pillow at how exhausted I am. But, I feel like a new person after taking this much needed afternoon break and my body now craves this self-renewal respite. C’mon people, join me. Rest=good.
TAKE ACTION: I recently led a workshop for entrepreneur women who asked, “How do you bring the ideas of self-care and rest into your daily experience?” I answered: by being around others who also value this as a priority. Join me for my April 24th one-day self-renewal retreat in Texas at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (almost full!), my July retreat at Kripalu or download one of my self-renewal telecourses and tap the power of a tribe from the comfort of your own home.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance teacher/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 12 year-old son. More on her background here.
Photo: Artwork from my good friends Ria and Jen at Hopeful World Publishing–designed just for me. This sits above my fireplace as daily reminder to do less and rest more!