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The importance of resting and not doing

How often do you do nothing?

Relax, stare into space, and just exist? Most of us can’t even remember the last time we watched a show without checking our phones - let alone sat on the couch and did absolutely nothing.

Western society has instilled the idea that being busy equates to being successful. From a young age, children are implicitly taught that “down-time” is a bad thing. As a result, we’ve built fast-paced, always-on lifestyles that can get overwhelming and difficult to step away from.

Programmed to be productive, our lives have become too full and too out of balance. Burnout is becoming more prevalent.

The truth is, your body, mind, and soul need to rest in order to regain strength and energy. Rest needs to be incorporated into one’s daily life.

What is rest?

Rest is the art of relaxing.

Rest can mean different things to different people. It could mean doing absolutely nothing, completing a craft project, or meditating. Whatever it takes to clear one’s mind and reset. Perhaps, taking a walk in nature or keeping a journal.

According to Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, people need seven different types of rest to feel fully alive and at peace. These are physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, social, sensory, and creative rest. Each type of rest has its own prescription and will result in its own symptoms if you have a deficit.

The benefits of rest

There are many benefits of rest that will help replenish your mind, body, and soul. Incredibly important to your overall well-being, concentrated rest will improve your physical and mental health.

Rest allows for reflection, downtime, and rejuvenation. Boredom, something society has taught us to run away from, can actually be beneficial. In the absence of distractions, your subconscious has the space to wander and expand. Ultimately, this boosts creativity, problem-solving ability, and reflection. Being “bored” forces you to dig deep and understand your emotions. It also gives you the necessary time to process your thoughts and reset your mind.

In the same way that your muscles need a break after an intense workout, your mind needs time to wind down as well. Resting our minds gives them a chance to maintain focus and regenerate.

Three ways to incorporate rest into your daily life

It can be challenging to find time to do nothing when we’ve built our lives around the literal opposite. When you’ve grown up believing the narrative that productivity and “doing more” are what make you successful and worthy, setting time aside to do nothing can feel counter-intuitive.

If you’re having trouble finding time to relax - start small, and work your way up. Here are three ways you can begin to incorporate “nothing” into your day-to-day:

Schedule your rest time

Just like you plan for everything else throughout the day, make sure to schedule a couple of minutes (or more!) to rest and do nothing. Starting small can mean setting aside 15 minutes after work to relax or arriving at a planned destination early enough to sit back, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

Budget rest into your morning

The best time to plan for rest is in the morning, before life’s responsibilities begin to creep up. Waking up early enough to get some “me-time” will do wonders for your health and wellness. Whether that means quietly sipping your coffee, meditating, or reading, take advantage of that precious time in the morning - before your phone starts pinging.

Get curious!

Oftentimes, when we catch ourselves not taking time for ourselves, self-depreciation is a lot easier than reflection. Sometimes, even if you do everything possible to guarantee yourself time to rest and recuperate, it might still not work out. When this happens, and you feel derailed, it’s important to take a step back and think before your act, speak or behave.

It’s important to remember to reflect on your actions and behaviours. To heal from our past, we need to embrace our present, and consciously decide on our future. Get curious about why you’re behaving in a certain way. Instead of simply reacting, question the reaction you’re having.

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