Why It’s Important to Allow Yourself to Rest
Do you tend to get overwhelmed with your daily responsibilities? Perhaps you often feel like you’re falling behind. Maybe you struggle with stress, anxiety or burnout.
If yes, you’re not alone. We all live in an over-achieving, fast-paced society that glorifies productivity above all else. The unrealistic expectations regarding success make us chase a perfect career, family, social life, etc. As a consequence, we’re stuck on the hamster wheel, not stopping for a moment to take care of ourselves. Such an unsustainable lifestyle unavoidably leads to mental health issues like chronic stress, insomnia  or burnout. The antidote to all that busyness is mindful resting, which can improve our mood, reduce stress and support our emotional health. In this blog post, we discuss how lack of rest impacts our health, challenges around relaxing, why it’s important to allow yourself to rest and share tips on relaxation.
How Does Lack of Rest Impact Adults?
We’re all familiar with the experience of writing the never-ending to-do lists, planning out our days, filling them with responsibilities to fulfil and the exhaustion that comes at the end of each day. What we forget to put in our schedules are mindful moments of resting in between our meetings, calls, extra classes, etc.
It’s also safe to say that we tend to pull all-nighters studying for exams, work late, or frantically finish projects before a deadline. Just a single sleepless night can make us feel moody and low. When not getting enough rest, either in the form of taking a break or sleeping, is a rule rather than an exception in our lives, it can lead to:
- Heightened irritability & low mood
- Sleep difficulties
- Poor focus and memory
- Stress management issues
- Exacerbating mental health issues
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What Might Impact the Ability to Rest?
What if you already understand why it’s important to allow yourself to rest but have difficulties falling asleep or relaxing throughout your day?
Various mental health issues significantly lower the ability to rest, such as:
- bipolar disorder,
Other factors that might interfere with the quality of your sleep are:
- Having an irregular sleeping schedule
- Eating big meals right before bedtime
- Using your bed for different purposes than sleep, rest or sexual activity
- Being exposed to blue light before sleep (e.g. scrolling through social media)
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Importance of relaxation, rest and sleep
Have you ever been faced with a big decision, and someone told you to “sleep on it”?
There’s a reason behind that. The human brain is a muscle that gets fatigued. When that happens, our cognitive functions drop: we lose focus, become irritable and so on. The best thing you can do for your health is to improve your sleeping habits, as it improves your immune system, balances your mood and boosts your emotional and mental wellbeing. Additionally, taking a mindful pause each day, whether by meditating, taking a walk or breathing deeply into your belly helps your brain recover, refill your resources and make you feel refreshed.
Counteracting the adverse effects of stress is yet another reason why it’s important to allow yourself to rest. Anxiety-inducing situations activate the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers the fight or flight response. On the other hand, resting activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to calm down and recover after such a shock. We can change our emotional states more easily when we counterbalance our busyness with relaxing activities.
Lastly, rest can boost our creativity, productivity and decision-making. Relaxing with mindfulness practices fosters experiencing the present moment just as it is. It allows you to:
- rid yourself of any judgment,
- let go of some unrealistic expectations,
- gain distance from those seemingly urgent tasks,
- shift your perspective,
- gain interesting insights or creative solutions to some issues.
What Can You Do If Rest Becomes an Issue?
Our hustle culture has programmed us to push ourselves beyond our limits and disregard the vital role resting plays in our lives. Placing higher importance on busyness rather than relaxation fills our days with never-ending to-do lists and fires to put out. Understandably, sitting in silence might feel uncomfortable and almost unnatural for some.
Maybe in those moments of inward focus, some painful thoughts you’ve been avoiding appear.
Perhaps your perfectionism or feelings of hopelessness reemerge when you attempt to meditate.
If that’s the issue, consider:
- Trying out active forms of resting, such as taking a walk, exercising or cooking a delicious meal
- Limiting the time you spend watching distressing news
- Journaling about your difficulties
- Discussing these challenges in the safety of therapy sessions
Rest and Relaxation Tips
Less Is More
Allowing yourself to rest starts with shifting your priorities and eliminating these tasks that are draining rather than nourishing. When going through your day, pay attention to what you can subtract, automate or delegate. A great first step is limiting your usage of social media. Decluttering your daily routines will create more mental space for you to rest in.
Savour Little Moments
Find relaxation in the simplest things and feel JOMO. Italian people have the phrase “il dolce far niente”, which means the sweetness of doing nothing. You can practice it by taking note of and appreciating:
- the taste of your morning coffee,
- the warmth of sunshine on your face,
- the smell of your favourite dish, etc.
Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
Meditation and mindfulness are the best antidotes to functioning on autopilot.
Ground yourself in the present moment by simply becoming aware of your breath. Close your eyes to focus your attention inwards. You can also connect to your body and quiet your mind by stretching or doing gentle yoga. If any resistance appears, observe it and let it go with each out-breath.
Cultivate Gratitude and Compassion
Mindful resting is a skill that takes time to master, so choose to be gentle with yourself. A wandering mind or intrusive thoughts are normal. Give yourself permission to be imperfect and thank yourself for the time you invest in your wellbeing. Try naming 5 things you’re grateful for daily, like getting enough sleep, eating a good meal or hugging a loved one.
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Get Professional Help
Sometimes trying to relax on your own doesn’t work as effectively as it could with the guidance of a trained professional. Perhaps the obstacles that stand in your way require the assistance of a therapist who can help you:
- identify your unhelpful beliefs,
- challenge any negative thoughts,
- share tools such as self-soothing techniques
- develop mindfulness skills
- Introduce practical changes to bring more balance to your life
Harness that opportunity to take charge of your life, engage in meaningful activities and build long-lasting, fulfilling relationships with others.
Contact us for a free 15-min consultation to see if our services fit your unique circumstances best.
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