The start of February: too early for a rest?

I’m not sure if I’m alone in this feeling, but as the first month of 2022 draws to a close I’m already feeling like I need another break!  And as I’ve been curiously reflecting on that awareness its dawned on me that maybe it’s because I did ‘do’ some quality resting over the Christmas break.  Maybe that old adage, usually applied to newborn babies, of “sleep begets sleep” can work in some way for adults and rest!  [For those of you who have never heard of that phrase it’s about the understanding that newborn babies often sleep better at night when they’ve had lots of good quality day-sleeps…which seems counterintuitive for many parents who worry that if they’ve slept too much during the day, they won’t be tired enough to sleep through the night.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, this whole thing took me down a bit of a research rabbit hole as I wanted to understand why I might be craving rest again so soon after having some.  Like many people across the world the last two years have seen me working very long hours with very little rest, never mind actual time off, and whilst I fully recognise that I am not alone in this I really do want to do better this year about managing my workloads and getting rest, so I have been really attuned to how my energy levels have been tracking.  I do have an issue with low ferritin (iron stores) and, as I often suggest to my clients, I wanted to rule out any unhelpful biological reasons as to why I might be feeling tired, so the first stop was to my GP to get blood tests.  Sure enough, it’s time for another iron infusion, and it is booked in, however I really do want to set myself up for optimal health this year and I’m keen to overhaul my rest practices which leads me to sharing some of the things I’ve learned.

Firstly, sleep is different to rest, and both are super important.  Whilst a lot of people really struggle with sleep, and if this is you then there’s another blog coming up where I’ll share a whole bunch of great sleep resources.  However, in the burned-out existence that many of us have become accustomed to, rest is becoming a new, equally tricky, nut to crack.  And if we don’t fully understand what rest is, we will find it even harder to get good at it.  Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith has researched rest and has established that it should look and feel like restoration in seven different areas of our lives:

  1. Physical rest: can be active or passive. Passive rest includes sleeping and napping, whilst active physical rest can resemble restorative activities like stretching, massage or bodywork therapy or yin yoga.
  2. Mental rest: this about taking short, scheduled breaks away from our work – that might look like a screen-break if we spend long stretches in front of the computer, or keeping a notepad by our bed to write things down if there’s a lot of procrastinating at night.
  3. Sensory rest: all our senses are bombarded all day by artificial lights, all the screens, music, background noises from machines and multiple conversations that leave us frazzled at a sensory level. Taking deliberate phone-free time, engaging in low sensory activities like meditation or floatation tanks can all support sensory rest.
  4. Creative rest: in order to be operating optimally in terms of problem-solving or brainstorming difficult situations we need creative rest – it could look like time in nature or it could be creating a really great workspace providing awesome creative inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Emotional rest: this one requires the courage to be authentic – it looks like answering “are you ok?” truthfully or saying “no” when you might usually and reluctantly concede to do things you’d rather not.
  2. Social rest: understanding which relationships provide us with rest and restoration as opposed to those that are exhausting or draining. Hanging out with people who share your values can be a great starting place.
  3. Spiritual rest: this allows us to connect beyond the physical, mental and social spheres and find spaces for deep belonging, love, acceptance and a higher purpose. Tai Chi, Qi Gong, meditation as well as prayer all support our spiritual rest.

 

If you need support to find better rest we have a team of therapists at Thea Baker Wellbeing and we have IMMEDIATE availability – please reach out to us at: hello@theabaker.com.au / 03 9077 8194.