The Importance of Rest

Take a look at your typical week. How much time do you spend working, driving the kids around, caring for your loved ones, and supporting others? Now compare that to how much time you spend resting and practicing self-care. I imagine that you spend a much larger bulk of your time giving and doing than resting and receiving. Why is this?

In today's world, it seems like we place a lot of value on being busy and stressed out, to the point of illness, injury, or even nervous breakdown. We work hard, care for our loved ones, and volunteer without stopping to address our own needs. But at what cost?

I recently suffered from a shoulder injury while teaching and have been having difficulty resting it. I like to demo during my fitness classes and to give hands-on adjustments during my yoga classes, which is difficult to do while resting one arm. So I've been using my shoulder more than I should be, which is contributing to the amount of time it's taking to heal. As I'm learning this lesson, I'm trying to re-evaluate how frequently I rest, and what rest means to me.

As I've worked on building my teaching schedule, I've attempted (but often failed) at taking one day off a week. I'm now much more protective of my day off and really try to rest my body during that day. Rather than practicing yoga or taking a bike ride, I try to book a massage, take a warm bath, or spend time with friends and family.

In an anatomy segment I recently attended, I learned that when you work out, you create tiny tears in your muscles. As these tears heal, your muscles become stronger to prepare for similar stress. However, if you continue to work, these tears never heal, and you'll eventually get injured. At least one day of rest every week is recommended to fully recover.

It can seem fairly obvious how your body reacts if you don't allow it to rest, but the impacts on your mental state can be a little more difficult to uncover. I find that if I've been teaching too much, I start to have difficulty finding words, making me a much less effective teacher. I also get more irritable, especially at home with friends and family. What do you notice when you've been overworked? It's important to learn and watch for your triggers so that you can schedule some rest when needed.

I know that life often gets in the way of some good-intentioned rest, but I think we as a society need to attribute more value to the importance of relaxation. If you have a hard time remembering to take some time to yourself, you might block off some time on your calendar for self care. Or if that isn't your thing, work with a friend or family member: hold each other accountable for taking some time to rest, or even rest together. It might feel selfish at first to spend time on yourself, but the more you fill your own cup, the more you'll be able to serve others.

I'd love to hear how you build rest into your schedule and how you relax. Please talk back in the comments section!

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