I don't know about you, but the festive period is especially a time that leads to burn out. We are always on the move, visiting friends and family, entertaining, socialising - there is little time to just stop, pause and take a moment to just breathe! It is so easy to get sucked into the busyness of life that we forget or don't prioritise taking a moment to 'unplug' to ensure that we have that deliberate pause in the midst of a busy day. We all have a tendency to press the 'dig deep' button when we're exhausted and/ or overwhelmed or when there's too much to do, but if we press the 'dig deep' button too much, there will be little for us to give, leading to illness and fatigue. My intention this year is to stray away from automatically hitting that dig deep button, and that this not only becomes a focus for this year, but for every year. Taking time to notice those in-between moments, the pauses in between the thoughts, the pauses between breaths, the gap of nothingness.
Life is all about balance after all. It's good to have an ambition/ goal to be as healthy as you can be, but the majority tend to prioritise how much exercise they need or their ideal weight or how many fruit and vegetables to eat per day. These are all important factors in achieving a healthy lifestyle but we can all have the tendency to overlook the importance of rest in this equation. If your body and mind are not sufficiently rested you'll struggle to find the get up and go to fuel your body in the first place.
There are so many benefits to resting well including improved sleep, balanced hormones, reduced anxiety, improved mental state, reducing inflammation in the body to name but a few. The science backs up that rest is key to well being. And we are talking about constructive rest here. Rest is not sitting down to watch the television at the end of the day. Rest is not socialising with friends or spending time to knit your children/ grandchild a scarf. Although these things are physically relaxing they are not 'restful'.. As Karen Brody quotes in her recent book "Daring to Rest" -
"Most self care today is about activation or doing - exercising, taking a trip with friends, going out to dinner. While this activation may nurture parts of your body, mind and spirit, it does not deeply replenish your mind and body."
Since I have been regularly practicing daily Yoga Nidra and allowing myself some daily 'non active' time, I have noticed HUGE transformations in my health, both physically and mentally. In the past I have struggled with inflammation in my body due to arthritis - swollen joints and limbs, incredible searing pain and also low mood due to the pain I was experiencing. Fast forward and I am now in 'remission' from my arthritis. This doesn't mean that I have been cured, but it does mean that I have it under control - hopefully for the long term. I attribute this to a change in mindset in how I was living my life. Less pressure (usually applied by myself!), less need for perfection and absolutely more rest. I also have seen Yoga Nidra have similar life changing benefits of others attending my classes.
Here are some of my top tips to incorporating more 'rest' in your day, and as I am a Yoga Nidra champion, you can guess that Yoga Nidra will feature highly!
1) The ultimate rest practice has to be Yoga Nidra. This is the sleep of all sleeps - the most healing, relaxing meditation you can experience. Find out more here -http://www.connecttocalm.co.uk/yoga-nidra. To receive your FREE relaxing Yoga Nidra recording check out my home page.
2) Take more mindful moments in your day - when you're waiting for the kettle to boil or for your laptop to turn on - try focusing on your breath. Or take a breath before responding to phone calls, emails or that awkward conversation. The breath naturally slows us down and instantly starts spreading calm throughout the body and mind.
3) Relax and watch the sun set or the sun rise, or just watch the stars in the sky - watching the world go by. Taking time out to just be without any distractions, allowing your thoughts to slow down.
4) Some Yoga and meditation can also take you into the gap of nothingness, the gap in-between.
5) Sleep! If you're tired and exhausted the best thing you can do is catch up on some sleep. Maybe plug in your ear phones and listen to a Yoga Nidra at the same time and receive the ultimate rest package!
The best thing to do is experiment with different forms of 'pause or rest' in your day. We all need to find something that works for us. If we do not listen to our body and do not deliver what it needs, it will ultimately crash and won't be able to support us in our daily activities. But here's the most important factor - please do not feel guilty for taking the rest that is so needed. We all could do without that guilt, and essentially the more we care for ourselves the more we have to give to others. Your body will thank you for it after all - I can promise you that.I'd love to hear how you incorporate 'rest' into your day? Let me know so we can all share ideas....