Ironically, I am writing this blog post during a period of rest in my own life. Truth be told, having written that first line, I am in fact writing this blog intentionally as opposed to ironically as I had thoughts prior to writing this blog where I was thinking - what better time to discuss the topic of rest than while resting, in a sense of practicing what I am preaching if you will.
Clients, colleagues and friends will know that for me personally, this 1 week period of rest I am currently taking is one that’s been eagerly anticipated and one which I believe will bring a great deal of solace and refreshment to me both cognitively and physically before returning back to the day to day motions of work/life balance, allowing to bring a fresher version of myself into helping my clients strive toward improved wellbeing.
For me, rest may be more extended periods of collaborative time spent doing a mixture of relaxation and exercise and things I like to do which result in me feeling refreshed for a longer stint of time. For another it may be taking a whole day at the weekend to do whatever they like alongside taking it easy and this helping them have the energy physically and psychologically, alongside motivationally to get through their Monday to Friday 9-5.
Despite what your go to method of rest is which results in you feeling rejuvenated, the important part is that just like sleep, or eating well or working through negative emotions, consistency within your method and the quality of the rest are two key aspects of getting the best from your period of rest.
Why Consistency? - Behavioural science and theorists of behaviourism would suggest that creating effective healthy habits requires regular repetition - and in due course, eventually this practice will result in new behaviours becoming effective habits. I know many people both in my personal and professional circles will often like to say that it takes an average of 21 days to form a habit. However, to bring in precision to this time frame - as shown in studies carried out by the Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL, it can take anywhere from 18-254 days to adapt a new habit. So yes, wow, that is daunting, a challenge certainly. However, this is why I am drawing your attention to the importance of implementing consistency in any behavioural change such as the establishment of restorative effective rest. With consistency, we can then reap the long term rewards.
Why quality? - Without sounding cheeky or condescending, I think this one is self explanatory. If I put it in a different context of analogy which clients of mine know I often like to do to help interpret something with a different insight or perspective. Put it this way, why quality? So, say for example if we take sleep for a point of discussion as it is certainly interconnected with the theme of rest.
Have you ever had a night sleep where in actual fact you slept for 7 consecutive hours but woke feeling exhausted? This is due to factors such as lack of sleep continuity (staying asleep and not waking up) lack of sleep efficiency (time spent actually asleep versus trying to sleep) and lack of sleeping pattern (sleeping in conjunction with the bodies circadian rhythms which means essentially sleeping and waking at the same time everyday) These just being 3 elements of what defines good quality sleep vs poor quality sleep.
There is inevitably more to it than meets the eye and you may in fact be “sleeping” but are you actually maximising on the potential benefits? More importantly, would you like to? Now let’s apply this to rest, are you getting the benefits from your rest? Maybe you think you are resting but not reaching the full potential within that rest?
This leads me to the main part of the blog which will look at the benefits of good rest and restful behaviour upon your overall physical and psychological well-being.
Regular bouts of rest away from work increases psychological energy: People who can disconnect from work during time off are less likely to experience exhaustion. Rest increases overall cognitive functioning and reasoning and ability for effective stress management.
Rest is essential for physical recovery: During periods of rest your body is given a chance to replenish energy levels, allowing for healing and growth.
Rest increases the likelihood of better sleep: When we are active, our bodies produce more of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and when these hormones which are often produced by stress and anxiety are overproduced - it can result in diminished quality of sleep and ultimately, exhaustion. Rest has the ability to return these hormones to their natural state of balance.
Rest boosts creativity: When resting, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated which is the opposite of what is experienced when somebody is going through the motions of the fight or flight response. When we enter this state of parasympathetic relaxation, moments of inspiration, reflection and creativity become more and more possible.
Rest enhances the experience of positive emotions: Links can be made between rest and increased happiness. Those experiencing sleep deprivation often report feeling anxious, depressed, stressed or agitated. Regular sleep and rest can show a huge benefit in the reduction of stress, anxiety and depression experienced as a result of lack of sleep/rest.
To conclude this blog entry and well and truly get back to my own period of rest. I think it is safe to say that we can often overlook the importance of rest and sometimes we tend to go against the grain so much so until our bodies force us to stop, often manifesting in poor mental health or weaker immunity. I hope this piece of writing may spark your mind to think about whether or not you are currently experiencing the benefits of good restorative rest in your life, and if not... what would life be like if you were?
If you would like professional help with any of the above, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at Evolve Mental Health. We would be more than happy to be of help. I hope that you are all keeping well and I look forward to sharing more with you in the future. Thank you for reading. God bless!