The Need for Rest and Recovery
Life these days seems to be go, go, go more than ever. We’re always on the run, trying to get everything done we need to accomplish. And sometimes we even fall short. We’re left feeling exhausted because of lack of sleep and worse yet, we rarely give ourselves the time we need to rest and recover.
Think about it in terms of exercise and training. You can give it your all and rest for a few hours, but does that mean you’re ready to jump back to it? No. You didn’t give your body ample opportunity to recover and regain its sense of normalcy. Recovery, in the true sense of the word, means creating an actual, deliberate plan to offset physical and mental demands of your week (or training, if exercising).
Rest is Necessary
In today’s world, people just don’t understand the concept of rest. We may desire it, but we’re afraid to let the worries of our lives go, as if resting might make things worse. Here in the West, we tie a negative connotation to rest. If we’re resting, then we’re just being lazy, failing to live up to our expectations. We must always be out there fighting, working, pushing. If you’re being unproductive, you’re falling behind. This is the way we think.
And it’s killing us.
Sleep is wonderful, but just getting enough sleep isn’t enough to stay healthy. Dr. Matthew Edlund, a sleep specialist, found that even when he helped cure patients inability to sleep properly, their health still remained poor because neglected getting proper rest through the day/week.
“Many of us are so busy we see rest as a weakness – a waste of precious time,” said Dr. Edlund, “but rest is, in fact, a biological need. All the science shows we need rest to live, just like we need food.”
The reality is, rest is as important and necessary as sleep is for the body to rebuild and rejuvenate. The brain needs sleep to clean itself of toxins and become renewed. The body does the same. And we’re not talking about plopping in front of the TV, but an active kind of rest that can make you more alert and effective, reduce stress levels and give you a better chance of a healthier and longer life.
The Four Types of Rest
According to Dr. Edlund, there are four kind of active rests we can do. Social, physical, spiritual, and mental. It’s important to practice each of these types of rests in our daily lives to impact our overall health in a positive way and keep our body and mind fresh.
A social rest can be time spent with your friends having a discussion over coffee. You’re relaxed and in a comfortable environment. It was found in a U.S. study back in the 1970s that socializing is important for our overall health. In fact, it brought with it a reduced risk of serious illnesses including heart disease.
This is all because socializing reduces the number of stress hormones in the body, giving you the added hormonal and psychological benefits. While you’re resting, your mind is still engaging, which is important.
Mental resting is realizing that the brain doesn’t like to focus on too many things at once. In today’s world, we are almost required to multitask at a constant rate. We eat while watching TV. We drive and talk on the phone. The thing is, we don’t realize that multitasking is harming our health and can impact your career in negative ways. Just doing it for a short amount of time has proven to affect our nervous system, increase our blood pressure, and change our internal temperature.
The idea behind mental resting is to teach yourself controlled concentration. Focus on one single task to the point where all the other issues you’re dealing with no longer affect you. This can be learning how to meditate. Lay in bed, close your eyes and listen to a soundbite of rain or waves crashing the beach. Imagine yourself there
Physical rest involves relaxing your body. It’s true what they say about taking a few deep breaths when you’re stressed out or angry. By breathing, you relax the mind and body as it opens up collapsed air spaces and allows more oxygen into your system. Another physical rest is perhaps everyone’s favorite: a quick nap. Close your eyes for 15-30 minutes.
A study from Greece revealed that people who took a 30 minute at least three times each week cut their risk of having a heart attack by 37 percent! NASA also found naps were helpful to improve work performance by 38 percent. There’s no denying the impact a quick nap can have on your overall health and wellbeing.
Spiritual rest is connected closely with mental and even social rest. Whether or not you believe in the ‘spirit’ or in a deity, science has proven that people who pray and are able to meditate and attend religious services live longer than those who don’t. Mediation and prayer helps not only to relax a person, but actually expands their frontal lobes, the area in charge of concentration, focus, attention, and analyzation. It can also lower blood pressure and boost the immune system.
Life can be difficult at times. In order to stay ahead, we often sacrifice our health to keep the ball rolling. We multitask, work long hours, bring our stress home with us, and don’t give ourselves enough time to rest and relax. This is why we get sick. Our immune systems become suppressed, we get depressed, and before we know it, we’re fighting off one illness after another.