Are You Comfortable At Rest?
Why is rest crucial and how to get more of it
Rest is crucial not only for our energy, concentration and productivity, recovery, and general health and well-being, but also to prevent and recover from burnout.
But in today’s modern world we don’t get enough of it - be it because of our modern lifestyle, lack of time, societal values and virtues of work and grind, our own expectations and pressures, constant distractions, etc.
In this article I’m going to talk about rest, why it’s so crucial and how to get more and enough of it.
What is “Rest”?
Let’s first define what rest is. What do we mean, when we use the word “rest”.
The first association is probably sleep - and rightly so. Sleep is the single most important lifestyle practice that contributes to every single pillar of our health, wellness and well-being.
The second association when we hear the word rest is probably physical rest: relaxing and chilling on the couch, bed or armchair, watching TV, series, surfing the web, scrolling social media or reading a book.
Although sleep and physical rest are very important and essential to our health and well-being, rest has a much bigger spectrum and includes much more than just those two aspects.
Different Types of Rest
Even though we often feel like we’re just physically tired and that we just need physical rest, there’s more to it than just that.
There are 7 different types of rest:
Sensory and Environmental rest
But why is it so important to get all types of rest?
Because not all rest is created equal. Depending on the type of work we do and the type of stress we’re exposed to, we need different types of rest to replenish our energy, recover, heal and support our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health and well-being.
Also, things are interconnected and interdependent : The realms of body, mind and soul are not separate from each other, but they are connected to each other and form a whole: when one of these three areas experiences brokenness, the symptoms manifest in all other areas.
Because of that, we need to approach things holistically - which means evaluate in which areas are we struggling, which type of rest we lack and and which type of rest we need to get more of.
If you want to learn more about 7 types of rest and how to implement them in your life, check out the article below:
Why Don't We Allow Ourselves to Rest?
Often it’s not the lack of knowledge that is preventing us to live better and improve our life and health - it’s the lack of implementation.
We know that we should be resting, or at least rest more, but why don’t we?
Like I quickly touched in the intro of the article, the answer is multifold.
It’s partly our modern lifestyle that is getting more and more fast-paced and we simply don’t have time and opportunity to take the rest that we need.
It’s also because of the societal values and virtues that glorify, encourage and reward workaholism, grind and hustle.
But it’s also partly our fault: it’s our own expectations of ourselves, our own internal pressures, internal patterns and belief systems installed in us or inherited from our parents, ancestors or society.
My Struggles to Rest Comfortably
Over Halloween holidays I got a bit sick: on October 31st I started to get the feeling that I’m about to get sick, so I canceled my plans to go to the Halloween party and decided to stay home and rest. The sickness didn’t go away overnight so I was forced to take a few days off and rest.
The first day I was able to keep my head and mind cool, but then bad mood slowly took over me and it was really hard and challenging for me to allow myself to rest comfortably.
Since I can remember, I've always struggled with being sick. I always took sickness and perceived it as a sign that I'm weak, that I did something wrong that brought me to being sick and consequently I felt that I'm not worthy, that I'm not enough, etc - especially in the last year where nothing seemed to be going my way since I've been sick 4 times. Also, when I'm sick my internal pressures and my internal judge give me a really hard time to rest with a piece of mind.
Because of all of that, it's very hard for me to love and nurture myself and take care of myself unconditionally when I’m sick, when I’m recovering or simply when I’m not feeling my best.
Over time I was able to identify some of the reasons why I have such a hard time allowing myself to rest and what prevents me from resting comfortably and deeply.
I don’t fully love myself unconditionally, therefore I feel and believe* that I’m not enough when I’m not my best and that I don’t deserve to rest, because I have to first prove myself to myself and others before I can rest.
I feel and believe* that real strength and perseverance is to fight whatever I’m feeling and overcome it by beating it and conquering it, instead of overcoming it by feeling and allowing myself to be weak
I don’t allow myself to rest and to be weak because I don’t want to be seen as weak by my parents and my family, because I’m afraid they will judge me, think less of me or that they would feel bad because of me.
I also feel that I have a big potential, purpose and mission in life and resting is preventing me from doing, making progress and impact on the world.
* Most beliefs that we have about ourselves and the world are unconscious and are installed by us, parents, ancestors, teachers, coaches, society or the world around us at some point in our past and shape our reality. To break the beliefs that don’t serve us, we must first become aware and identify unconscious beliefs and then work on them to change them or uninstall them from our operating system' - which isn’t a quick and easy process.
Are You Resting Just To Keep Going?
Catching up with emails during my sick rest, I really identify with what Aubrey Marcus, entrepreneur, podcastor and best-selling author wrote in his newsletter Are You Comfortable At Rest, In Yourself?:
“My periods of rest are defined by a certain restlessness. An eagerness to recharge, so I can get back to my work. […] I rest for the purpose of work. I understand that it is a necessary part of the cycle, or what a Hermeticist would call the Principle of Rhythm. Yet I fail to give it the dignity that it desires.”
For most of my life, which has been highly defined by my sport career and playing volleyball, I rested because I had to. Forced rest between school and practices so I could be “rested” and ready to give it my all at the practice.
It’s been the same with dealing with my burnout. Resting felt like forced rest so I could have more energy and feel better. Maybe this strategy can be useful in the short term, but in the long run it’s not ideal.
So the question then becomes:
How To Get More Quality Rest
1. Identify what type of rest you need
To get all the different types of rest, you first need to know and identify which types of rest you lack and which types of rest we need to incorporate in our life.
You can identify which types of rest you need by looking at the deficiency symptoms of each type of rest: I have a full list of symptoms of each rest in my article Why Do You Need Different Types of Rest?.
You can also take a quiz that will tell you which type of rest you lack. Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD of internal medicine and author of the book Sacred Rest, has a free quiz that you can take in link below:
You can also Identify what type of rest you need by listening to your physical body, mind and soul and observing the signs and signals in the form of intuition, feelings, emotions, dreams, etc. The answer can always be found within us, although that’s a bit hard at the beginning until you’re more in touch with yourself and your needs.
2. Make a list of rest activities
Make a list for each of the 7 types of rest.
Include activities different acitivies that can be done in 15 minutes, some in 30 and some in 60+ minutes, so if you can add them in different parts of your day, week and/or month.
Again, full list of activities for each rest can be found in my article Why Do You Need Different Types of Rest?.
3. Schedule quality rest
When you identify which types of rest you lack and the rest activities that you will incorporate in your life, you need to schedule them in your day to day life.
Because of our modern lifestyle, oftentimes rest won’t happen unless we schedule it. If something is not fixed and scheduled, we’ll think ourselves out of it or simply forget about it.
Make sure to have some rest everyday. Look at your calendar. Check for free time and free spots. You can pick a form of rest depending on what you need most that day, but maybe have options listed ahead of time so it's easy to pick instead of always repeating the same forms of rest.
Make this easy and realistic to you. Put it in your calendar, make a schedule, utilize time blocking or go by the “gut feeling”.
4. Allow yourself to rest
After you’ve scheduled the rest, you need to allow yourself to do it: to rest quality and comfortably.
If you have troubles allowing yourself to rest, explore the reasons behind why you don’t allow yourself to rest. Is it the pressures and deadlines at work? Is it your own limiting beliefs that you don’t allow yourself to rest because you don’t believe that you’ve done enough or that you’re worthy and “good enough” to rest?
This internal exploration can be achieved by journaling, therapy and altered states of consciousness (eg. breathwork, meditation, flotation, shavasana, psychedelic substances, …)
Evolutionarily, autumn and winter are periods in the year to calm down, rest, sleep and rejuvenate. Winter is also the season and period for deep rest and deep rejuvenation.
Like Aubrey Marcus talked about in a newsletter from some time ago,
“The Winter is a time of rest and hibernation. A time with family and friends, or perhaps the long awaited cocoon. […] This is where the nervous system can find its baseline. Where new programs can replace outdated ones in the operating system.”
Adjust our lifestyle accordingly. Lower your expectations for yourself, work and life in general. Slow down and feel the changing seasons. Spend more time in nature and with people you care about. Spend less time on social media. Invest and work on yourself.
Remember: We need rest to function optimally. Recharge your batteries so you can run and thrive! 🙂
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