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The Secret Ingredient for Health and Well-Being

Posted Sep 05 2013 3:00am

Probably the most common message my clients’ bodies relay is this: rest more.

In response to that message, most clients say things like:

But I don’t have time!

I’m already resting.

That can’t possibly be what I need.

But what if all I do is lie around like a sloth? How will I get things done?

I can’t listen to that message because I have so much to do.

I get it, because my body asks for more rest than seems appropriate to my mind. However, throughout this last year, I have learned a ton about resting, as well as my body and its messages. As a result, I’ve discovered three important things about resting that pretty much revolutionized how I rest. And you’ll notice that I’m a new mom, and here I am talking about rest. Yes! I’ve been forced to honor my true rest needs this year, so I am actually well-rested. I’ve discovered that taking care of my rest needs is pretty much where it’s at. It’s the most important thing I can do for myself.

Here’s what I’ve discovered: when my body is screaming for rest, it means I’ve waited too long to rest. I missed the subtler clues that were much less uncomfortable. The remedy for this is to binge on rest. By this I mean use any and all time I can to rest – while my kiddo is napping, going to bed early, and anytime I can find a sitter for an extra hour or two.

This might seem scary at first. The mind says – OH NO! I’ll never get anything done!

However, this is not true. The binge catches me up and then I am actually energized and able to get anything done more quickly and easily than before and it’s MUCH better than if I tried to slog through it, exhausted. Once the binge is over (it just sort of ends), I feel much better and am able to pay attention again to the subtler rest cues my body sends. (And honor them!)

This is something I do to ward off exhaustion, keep my newfound and hard-won health, and stay centered in my body awareness. I take 10-15 minutes in the morning, at lunch, and after dinner to lie down, breathe, and check in with my body. Even if I’m not tired in the least, I do this resting. I use my mind-body tools .  I feel my nervous system relax into rest and digest. I get tingly all over, like I’m getting a massage or just took a dose of morphine. I let myself yawn, stretch, and breathe.

I also take a minute to see if I’m addressing all my needs. Am I thirsty? Hungry? Do I need to feel an emotion? Is there something my intuition is trying to tell me?

This resting means taking the rest and digest feeling with me when I get up from the bed. I do little check-ins during the day as I’m doing activities. Whether I’m cooking, playing with my kiddo, walking, doing yoga, or working, I can pay attention to my body and my internal sense of awareness. I can notice my feet touching the floor. I can feel my energy drop down into my body if it starts floating up into my head in the form of worries, stress, or rumination. I can watch my breath for a moment.

The mind likes to judge rest as slothful or lazy. It likes to tell us to push onward and ignore the body’s rest signals. However, this is all just mind-noise. Rest, and being rested while going about the day, is an incredibly important piece of health, well-being, and inner peace. A fully synced-up mind and body allow rest to take place and feel good as a result. Rest is a mix of naps, sleep, and letting the nervous system drop out of fight or flight. I don’t count watching TV or reading as resting, because I’m not as deeply relaxed when I’m doing those activities. I count those as fun entertainment, so when it’s time for a rest binge, I don’t do them until I feel energized again. I’ve found they can actually prevent me from getting rest (especially if they are particularly engaging).

There is much talk about mindfulness these days, but not as much about restfulness. The secret is that mindfulness is restfulness. I prefer to think of it as restfulness, actually. When I rest into this moment, I am present. I am resting here. I’m not trying to get there, or there, or there. I’m just resting here. Now.

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