Rest- It can feel challenging to do, but it's sometimes the missing link when you're struggling with low energy, stress and other health issues..
I recently visited The Chinese Friendship Gardens in Sydney which comprise some beautiful serene gardens situated along Darling Harbour. The gardens have been carefully designed and curated to provide a balance of what the Chinese speak of as Yin and Yang.
Yin and Yang are the energetic principles which make up a balanced whole.
Yin is the receptive and restful energy to Yang's active or action orientated energy. Yin energy is more inward focused and Yang, more outwards focused.
For harmony and balance, we each need both Yin and Yang. Neither is superior to the other, they are both required for balance and wholeness.
For most of us, we're spending far too much energy in Yang persuits, outwards orientated action and activity and our Yin energy is often neglected. Whilst we can feel energised by activity, action and productivity, if we don't also allow ourselves more restful, restorative Yin time, we become depleted and burnt out.
Whilst enjoying the gardens, we sat for awhile in a small jade temple which are a common feature in traditional Chinese gardens. The small temple overlooked a gently flowing stream and it's purpose in the garden was to allow a place to sit and watch the water and 'rest the spirit'.
In this context, the Chinese recognise the importance of resting the spirit, which just like resting the body and the mind, requires slowing down and being aware of things on a more inner level.
How can we possibly truly rest any part of ourselves whilst we're constantly bombarded by thoughts, sights, sounds, to-do lists and deadlines?
Whilst many of us may dream or fantasise about an elusive week off of doing nothing or of time spent by on a tropical island where we can stop and rest, the truth is that many of us are actually somewhat resistant to rest!
Have you ever noticed that even on your 'day off' or when you're having downtime you're still multitasking or trying to get all of the shopping or domestic tasks done?
Rest is slow. It takes time. It can't necessarily be ticked off a to-do list. It doesn't earn you praise (except from your Naturopath and maybe your Mum!).
Society praises the 'busy', the achiever or the hard worker- not that hard work is not necessary at times, it's all about balance.
We look for ways to give us more energy, to allow us to do more, accomplish more. We seek out 'life hacks', eating plans or whatever we hope 'the missing link' may be to give us more energy! Yet, often what our bodies, minds and spirits are crying out for is rest- and that just may be the inconvenient 'missing link'!
How often do you truly rest?
What does rest look like for you?
Is sleep your only rest time?
What do you think of when you think of the concept of rest? Too busy! Lazy! No time for rest!?
As hard as it can feel, we ALL need to make time for rest, because we ALL need it- and regularly!
Slowing down and actually resting allows us to spend time in our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). This is the part of our nervous system involved in rest, restoration and digestion. It is crucial for restoring your energy levels, reducing inflammation, hormone balance and replenishing your hard working body.
Most of us spend too much time in our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which is our active mode, also involved in fight-or-flight and the stress response.
Too much sympathetic nervous system activity without being balanced by parasympathetic nervous activity leads to fatigue, inflammation, digestive issues, overwhelm, hormonal imbalance and eventually burn out.
Occasional 'Rest Days' are something that I have encouraged my children to take when they're needed. To me a genuine "I need a rest day" is as justified as staying home due to already being sick, as I have wanted my children to learn to recognise when they're needing to rest and reset to prevent them from actually getting sick or from having a meltdown from mental or physical exhaustion. They haven't exploited this and they don't ask for them often, maybe a couple of times a year.
Whilst we can't always take a 'rest day' as often as we actually need them, consider small ways that you can allow yourself to rest more. Re-frame your thinking about rest being a waste of time, because rest will actually allow you to be more energised and productive when it's time to get back in to action!
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