I talk a lot about rest in my blog, lives, and other content. And that’s because it’s so vitally important not only to decreasing stress and overwhelm but also to increasing productivity and creativity, and accomplishing your goals. But recently I was asked what to do when rest isn’t restful and that got me thinking. And remembering. Because it wasn’t that long ago that I struggled to get restful rest. So, today I thought I’d share what I discovered along the way that helped me get the rest I needed and deserved so you can get the rest you need and deserve too.
Set the Stage
Create a space in your home or outside that brings you peace and joy. This doesn’t have to be an entire room. It can simply be a corner or cozy chair. To make it extra special be sure that it is somewhere relatively quiet and free from distraction. It’s preferable that when you’re enjoying your relaxation time you won’t be disturbed so you may want it to be in a less frequently used room (not the kitchen). Once you’ve chosen the location grab your restful rest supplies and stash them nearby. Things like a soft blanket, essential oil diffuser, or book may be just what you need to set the mood.
Make a You Date
If you don’t schedule it it’s very unlikely to happen. Zoning out on your couch and binging Netflix or scrolling social doesn’t really count as rest. Why? Well, because it’s often simply our natural shut down taking over when we are way stressed out. Scheduling restful rest matters and helps you be intentional about it which allows you to fully reap the benefits. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t rest at other times but when you do try to be mindful of it and make it count. Getting intentional, restful rest actually increases productivity and creativity so it’s well worth the time spent on it. So, pick a day and time to just focus on yourself and relax.
Decrease Your Stress Hormones
Stress isn’t just a feeling, it’s a physiological reaction. When we’re experiencing chronic stress over long periods of time it can be difficult to unwind because out bodies are on overdrive. We have stress hormones coursing through our veins and we feel wired or anxious because of it. There’s just no way to get restful rest in this state. While it might feel like there’s nothing you can do about what’s going on inside our bodies, there is. Resetting and reducing your stress hormones is a lot easier than you may think.
Try one of these techniques:
- Take a cold shower or bath
- Watch a funny or scary movie
- Move your body (dance party, kick boxing, or a run if that’s your jam)
- Check out more ideas here.
Once you reduce your stress hormones you may notice that you feel fatigued or tired. It’s ok to take a nap and count that as your rest time. That might be exactly what you need.
Let it Out
Have you ever tried to rest or relax only to find that your brain is going a million miles an hour. Maybe you’re distracted by the things you need to get done, or you’re thinking about that project at work, or like me, you’re replaying a conversation you had a week ago. These disruptive and invasive thoughts are preventing you from getting restful rest. Rather than keeping all that in your head, let it out. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and do a brain dump. Simply free write until there’s nothing left to say. I know you might feel like you’ll be writing forever (I get told this by my clients all the time) but I assure you, you won’t. Once it’s out on paper you will be better able to relax.
Find Something You Enjoy
Don’t get too rigid and literal about how you define “rest”. The most restful rest is whatever you find restful, relaxing, and recharging. Maybe you enjoy a warm bath, a good book, or painting. But you may also prefer more active rest. It’s ok if you find cleaning or exercise restful but I caution you not to lean into this type of rest to maximize productivity. One of the things that helps me most is to think about when I feel most content and at peace WHILE and after I’m engaging in the activity. I find that I enjoy playing board games, watching documentaries, reading, and yoga or weight lifting as restful activities. And, I try to tune into what will be most beneficial each time I set out to rest. It would be beneficial for you to do the same. Jot down some ideas for your rest time so you can refer to it whenever you set out to rest and make the most of it.
Share something you enjoy doing for rest in the comments.