THE POWER OF REST: How slowing down & intentionally resting is ultimately productive

THE POWER OF REST: How slowing down & intentionally resting is ultimately productive

“Rest is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Give power to this necessity.”

In today's fast-paced world, it can be easy to fall into the trap of constantly pushing ourselves to be productive while rest is both often overlooked and undervalued. We are bombarded with messages to push ourselves harder, work longer hours, and achieve more. But in our quest for productivity and success, we often forget what is important: to intentionally slow down, take a break and nourish our mind and body with meaningful rest.

First and foremost, slowing down, allows us to focus on the present moment and gain clarity on our goals. Productivity has been misunderstood. Many think it means to go-go-go, without a meaningful break. When you pause, you allow yourself the time to rest, a vital component in being productive.
It may however be that when you finally do allow yourself rest, it is combined with feelings of guilt, which in return makes you even more exhausted. Does this cycle sound familiar? Well, you’re certainly not alone in feeling this way! We want to encourage you to break this cycle and start being successfully productive by intentionally taking meaningful and most importantly guilt-free rest! You truly deserve it!

Now we know it’s all easier said than done. Life has been challenging, (pandemic stress anyone?) and there is no doubt that we are all feeling a collective burn-out. With life having been so out of our control, it might feel like you’ve lost valuable time and so you may feel pressured to jump back into the ‘regular’ swing of things, or to pick up the pace in order to catch up with lost time. Hopes & desires for the new year (Happy 2023!) also adds to this pressure. We get it! Although you may feel like you have to pick yourself back up and keep going, let us remind you that doing this without having meaningful, nourishing breaks is ultimately never productive. So give power to rest and watch it give you power in return!

“You could think of relaxation as a type of pause that leads toward the expression of your best possible self.” 
-Jordana Harshman, Wellness manager and certified wellness coach at Stanford Children’s Health.

So what do we mean exactly by the power of rest? The clue is in the name. Rest gives you power, it allows for you to step back, gain clarity, reassess, and reenergise.  We’re not too different to the tech that we carry around with us. We allow our phones & gadgets to recharge, so why don’t we do the same for ourselves? There is no doubt that rest & recovery are vital to our mental and physical health. Studies have proven time and time again that physically and mentally resting improves productivity and make reaching your goals and daily tasks more efficient.

Our bodies are designed to need rest. When we sleep, our bodies undergo a variety of physiological processes that help to repair and rejuvenate cells, tissues, and muscles. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, but many of us fall short of this goal. Lack of sleep can lead to numerous health challenges, including bad diet, diabetes, heart disease, and anxiety & depression.

It is also important to note that rest is not just about sleep, it's about taking time for yourself. It's about unplugging from technology, disconnecting from the constant demands of work and social media, and giving yourself time to reflect and recharge. Whether it's taking a Pilates class, going for a hike, or simply sitting in silence, taking time for yourself can help you to feel more centred and refreshed.

In addition to physical rest, our minds also need time to recharge. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day to step away from our work and engage in activities that we enjoy. This can include reading, exercising, spending time with friends and family, or simply taking a brisk walk outside. Engaging in activities that we enjoy will help to reduce stress and boost our mood.

Rest also plays a critical role in our ability to learn and process new information. Studies show that taking short breaks throughout the day can help to improve our memory and cognitive function. When we are constantly working and pushing ourselves to the limit, our brains become overworked and fatigued. Taking regular breaks can help to clear our minds and improve our ability to focus and absorb new information.

When we are constantly rushing from one task to the next, it can be difficult to see the bigger picture and understand the steps we need to take to reach our goals. By slowing down and taking a step back, we can gain a better understanding of what we want to achieve and how to go about achieving it.

Modern life is intended to make things easier, which, it has. It however has also minimised quality time and the simple pleasures in life, those of which we cannot undermine. Balancing family, work and daily responsibilities can be overwhelming. There is little separation between where we live and where we work, so little separation to when we are “on” or when we can switch off. It feels like we are constantly on, and switching off can be an art that we need to master! Whether it’s an hour or 10 minutes out of your day, that switch off period shouldn’t be used to mindlessly scroll on our phones (we’ve all been there!).

“Living in a state of relaxation deprivation is not a long-term strategy. It isn’t motivating. Accepting that relaxation will provide you with more energy to meet life demands can help buffer the idea that you should be doing more. Relaxation truly fuels us to be our best selves.”
- Harshman

Physical training for example, requires you to rest and give your muscles a break. This rest period is not a period where your muscles are not working, in fact this recovery period is a large part of achieving your goal. During that period of down-time, your muscles are rejuvenating in order to better function during your next work out. Similarly with our mental health, our mind needs the down-time to recharge and prepare for next activities. The more we ignore our rest and recovery time, the more we are likely to get overwhelmed and experience burn out.

There are no rules when it comes to relaxing, for some it could mean lying on the couch, having a quick nap, and for others it could be a high energy activity. Depending on your needs, both can recharge you, so listen to your mind and body, and see what the best rest may be. The only rule is to make an intentional point to nourish yourself.
Here are 18 tips and ideas to help you recharge and feel refreshed.

  1. Get enough sleep: Sleep is crucial for both physical and mental health. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to ensure that your body and mind are well-rested.

  2.  Create a bedtime routine: This might include reading, meditating, or listening to calming music.

  3. Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime: The blue light emitted by screens can disrupt our sleep patterns.

  4. Make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable: This means having a comfortable mattress, pillows, and blankets, as well as keeping the room at a comfortable temperature.

  5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.

  6. Exercise regularly: Moving your body is not only good for your physical health, but it also releases endorphins, which improves your mood and reduces stress. Find an activity or class that you enjoy, such as running, yoga, or swimming, and make it a regular part of your routine. It’s always useful to find group activities who motivate and support you in your journey.

  7. Meditate or practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga can help you relax and reduce stress. Even just a few minutes of meditation each day can help improve your focus and concentration.
  8. Spend time outdoors: Being in nature can be incredibly rejuvenating. Take a walk in the park, go for a hike, or simply sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. The natural light and scenery can help boost your mood and energy levels.

  9. Connect with friends and loved ones: Socializing with friends and loved ones is essential for maintaining good mental health. Make time to catch up with friends and family, whether it's over the phone, in person, or via video call.

  10. Read a book or listen to a podcast: Engaging in a form of self-care like reading or listening to a podcast can be a great way to switch off and recharge.

  11. Indulge in your hobbies or try out a new one: Hobbies can be a great way to unwind and take your mind off stressors. Whether it's cooking, painting, knitting or even playing an instrument, find something that you enjoy and make time for it regularly.

  12. Take a technology break: We all know how much we are surrounded by technology everywhere, it's important to take a break from screens and social media to reduce stress and improve mental well-being.

  13. Practice good self-care: Taking care of yourself is crucial for maintaining good physical and mental health. This includes eating a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables & staying hydrated, and indulging in rituals that make you feel good such as taking a relaxing and warm bath or getting a massage, to help reduce stress and improve well-being.

  14. Plan a vacation or mini-getaways: Sometimes, the best way to recharge is to get away from it all, even if it's just for over-night or for a weekend. The change of scenery and break from your routine can do wonders for your mental and physical well-being.
  15. Practice gratitude: Focusing on the things you are grateful for can help improve your overall well-being. Try doing this in the morning and the evening.

  16. Listen to music: Listening to music can help reduce stress and improve mood.

  17. Write in a journal: Writing in a journal can help you process your thoughts and emotions.

  18. Try aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.

There is no doubt that rest, recovery and relaxation are vital to our mental and physical health. Now add the challenges we have all been experiencing which are out of our control, and we are all no doubt feeling like our cup is overflowing more than we ever have. This is why, particularly now, it is important to prioritise taking care of ourselves, and recover from the additional stresses we have all faced. Now is the time to start, without guilt, do things that are good for our soul and put a smile on our face.

We often feel as if we are constantly running behind and trying to catch up. However, it is important to remember that rest is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Give power to this necessity. Our bodies are constantly working to repair and rejuvenate themselves, and rest is essential for this process to take place. We need to take the time to rest and recharge in order to be our best selves.  
We shouldn’t overlook or sacrifice rest in the pursuit of productivity and success. Instead, it should be seen as an essential part of our overall well-being & success. When we make rest a priority, we are better able to handle the demands of daily life, to be more productive and creative, and to build deeper, more meaningful connections with the people around us. So we encourage you to start making rest a priority in your life, intentionally plan it in to your day, and you'll no doubt see the benefits in your overall well-being. This is the power of rest!