In our society, there's an underlying expectation to go, go, go. Rest is considered indulgent, and most people feel guilty when taking a minute for themselves.
Work and school are non-negotiable, and if you're a parent, you have even less time for rest. The concept of slowing down can become foreign or at least hard to obtain. With babies to feed, bills to pay, a new job to perform in, how are we expected to rest? Thankfully, there are practical ways to incorporate some downtime into even the craziest of schedules.
Making time for rest can recharge your ability to deal with commitments, relationships and impact your overall health. This is because your mind and body are intrinsically connected.
Lack of sleep can also manifest physically. When you're overworked, cortisol and adrenalin pump through your blood. The boost of these hormones long-term can lead to adrenal exhaustion and an overall hormonal imbalance. Symptoms of which can include depression, weight gain, estrogen dominance, and chronic fatigue— all accelerating the aging process.
When you take the time to sit and rest even for a few minutes a day, you are allowing your body's cells to recharge (this is why meditation is so powerful). Having a simple bath or shower with a few controlled breaths can be enough to re-infuse your inner light.
What I do to incorporate rest into my life:
- Daily meditation practice
- Yin exercises, including yoga and tai chi
- A daily bath with lavender oil
- Chai tea and 30 minutes of reading
- 30-minute walk
- Tea with a friend
- Massage to get my blood flowing
- Ayurveda treatment
- 8 hours of sleep
- Acupuncture to restore energy flow
- Say no to social arrangements when feeling overwhelmed
A note on physical activity:
We are not designed to push our bodies to the limit, day after day. We must keep active, but general movement, like two or three 30-minute exercise sessions per week, is enough to burn energy, boost metabolism and keep our hearts healthy.
Rather than wearing down your body on a cardio machine for hours each day, try lower impact activities, like yoga which can impact your mental health.
Your body is smart, so if you wake up and and think “today is a day I need to give my body a rest,” it's okay to listen.
Jessica Sepel is a nutritionist and health expert who specializes in disordered eating. She is based in Sydney, Australia and received a bachelor's degree in health science and public health from Macquarie University. Sepel is a regular contributor to Vogue Australia and a variety of international publications, and continues to grow her eponymous health brand, JSHealth, which offers coaching programs, health plans, recipes, and supplements. Check out her mbg class, How To Stop Dieting & Learn To Eat Intuitively.