Source: Drew Coffman

These days, we are flooded with messages to “do more,” “be more,” and “add more” to our lives. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to be the men that we want to be for our family, our employer, our friends, and all the other people and things that demand our best. When do we ever find time to care for ourselves? Many of us are living our lives by the motto, “I’ll rest when I’m dead.” It sounds like a great “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” approach, but how healthy is this kind of thinking? I propose that by learning to get effective, meaningful rest, we can get more done in our busy lives than we would if we just will-powered our way through everything. This week, we are going to discuss the need for rest, the benefits of rest, and how to get the most out of times of rest. So, grab yourself a strong cup of joe and some comfortable jeans, and let’s jump right into this!

In our culture, we value hard work and stick-to-itiveness. We don’t quit and we don’t slow down. But resting isn’t quitting, it’s not lazy. Rest has many benefits and actually increases our output/performance if done well. According to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of the book, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, “rest is an essential component of working well and working smart.” Getting rest helps us to recharge our batteries so that we have something to give to the mountains of projects staring us down. Without rest, we will eventually experience fatigue (as well as other symptoms) that will wear away at our productivity. If we want to get more done, we have to treat rest as just as important of a discipline as diet and exercise. Getting rest is not a recommendation for our consideration, but a cornerstone of healthy living.

Rest during the day (and adequate sleep at night) has many physical, behavioral, and mental benefits. Physically, it helps our body repair from the damage that life’s tolls have on us. According to Jenna Fletcher of Medical News Today, taking time off for rest can help “alleviate muscle pain and soreness, repair and build muscles, replenish the body’s energy stores, and prevent injury.” Rest also helps our minds and behaviors. In another article, Jenna Fletcher stated that getting enough sleep helps with “several brain functions, including concentration, productivity, and cognition.” Fletcher also noted that a good rest can help to prevent depression and assists with social and emotional intelligence. According to Rami Abboud, MD, getting a good night’s rest can lower blood pressure, support healthy eating habits, improve athletic ability, optimize brain functioning, improve our mood, balance blood sugar, and boost our immunity.

To get the most out of rest, we need to be resting effectively. In Margarita Tartakovsky‘s article, “How to Really Rest,” shared that the use of phones during rest time is actually exhausting us more than providing us with rest. She quoted Kelly Vincent, PsyD  when discussing why phone usage is not restful, saying, “We are absorbing the sensory input and our brain is quickly trying to process it all.” Later on in the article, Margarita suggested that trying to rest while under a “stress-state” can also hinder our ability to get true rest. Quoting Sarah McLaughlin, MFT, Tartakovsky wrote, “if the brain is in constant stress-state during awake hours then, in many cases, it is losing or has lost connective pathways that tell it to decrease or stop the stress response.” In other words, if we are stressed out during the day, we might be stressing ourselves out during the night as well. According to the National Sleep Foundation, to have the best chances of getting a good night’s rest, we must: establish a routine for sleep and wake times, spend time in natural light, limit the use of electronics before bed, exercise regularly, and make sleep a priority in or lives. As mentioned in another blog post, it is recommended that the average adult get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

Beyond getting enough sleep, the articles that I consulted when exploring the benefits of sleep had some helpful suggestions on how to rest during the day. Soojung-Kim Pang offered that starting an early morning routine instead of trying to get all our work done during the night can help us work during our most productive hours. Soojung-Kim Pang talked about taking walks to send blood flow to the mind and taking naps to restore energy. Soojung-Kim Pang also mentioned “stopping at the right time.” He shared that, by leaving some work unfinished when there was a clear indicator of what to do next, we put ourselves in a better position to carry on the work strong when we come back refreshed after a break. He quoted Ernest Hemingway, saying, “always stop when you know what is going to happen next.” Tartakovsky discussed many concepts related to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She suggested reframing our negative thoughts about getting rest (such as “I don’t want to be lazy), to practice accepting our circumstances (ex. “I am tired, and will do better if I pick this up again in the morning), being intentional (making sure that we truly are at rest when we are resting), taking in our surroundings (using our 5 senses), asking ourselves why we are unable to rest, and reminding ourselves of the importance of rest.

I hope that this information was of some help to you. I tried to take a more logical approach to express why rest is so important to our lives. I imagine that it probably wouldn’t have been as convincing if I would have just said, “get more rest, you need it.” In response to this week’s post, I would love to hear what you guys do to get rest. Please share any good tips or tricks with the “rest” of us. Be sure to take a break this week, all!

 

References

Abboud, R. (2020, February 17). 7 health benefits to getting a good night’s rest. Retrieved from https://www.summahealth.org/flourish/entries/2020/02/7-health-benefits-to-getting-a-good-nights-rest

Fletcher, J. (2021, January 28). When and how to spend a rest day.  Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/rest-day

Fletcher, J. (2019, May 31). Why sleep is essential for health. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325353

Soojung-Kim Pang, A. (2017, May 11). How resting more can boost your productivity. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_resting_more_can_boost_your_productivity

Tartovsky, M. (2018, April 29). How to really rest. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-really-rest#1

Unknown. (2020, October 5). Making time for sleep. Retrieved from https://www.thensf.org/making-time-for-sleep-tips/