Monday, March 7, 2011

Healthy Living: Rest

"Sometimes the most urgent thing you can possibly do 
is take a complete rest." 
~Ashleigh Brilliant

Having just completed my half marathon on Saturday (look for a race report this week, probably Wednesday) my thoughts are being drawn to rest as the next topic in our healthy living series.  The last step in the training/race cycle is to rest and recover.  This is not just good advise, rest is crucial to allow the body to fully recover. 

Rest and recovery time is when the body heals, when you actually get stronger.  It is not the workouts that make you stronger, workouts only break the muscles down.  It is during recovery when the muscles repair and rebuild and become stronger.  If all you ever do is workout then all your body will ever be is broken down.  All that work is for nothing without time to rest and recover.

The principal applies to other areas of good health as well.   

The most obvious example is getting enough sleep on a daily basis.  We live in a 24/7 society.  There is always something to do, always a way to be productive, and this is increasingly cutting into our sleep.  But the effects of not getting enough sleep can be more costly that just feeling sleepy during the day or needing an afternoon pick-me-up.  Over time lack of sleep can increase mortality risk if you are getting less than 6 or 7 hours a night, perhaps even more than smoking.

Other examples of when rest is necessary might include:
  • taking your breaks at work
  • don't eat lunch at your desk
  • take time to unwind after a long day
  • take time to meditate/pray
  • take time to reconnect with family
  • take a nap if you need it
  • step away from a project every hour for 5 to 15 minutes to give your mind a rest

I'm sure you can think of some of your own, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.  The basic principal of needing a rest after hard workouts is the same in other areas of your life.  If you don't take the necessary rest, then all you will ever be is broken down.  You need the time off to make you stronger and more effective.  Without rest, all your hard work is going to get you nowhere and you are no good to anyone.

I think when it comes down to it, taking quality time to fully rest and recover is all about setting appropriate boundaries.  It's about not letting things you need or even want to get done take over your life.  It's OK to want to be productive, but it is critical to set boundaries and know when to draw the line.  To know when continuing to peruse what you are trying to do is going to leave you more broken than productive.

How do you think rest, or lack of it, impacts your health?  When/how do you know that rest is the most urgent thing you could do?

2 comments:

  1. I can't wait to make my husband read this! haha I could use a break!!! Seriously, though, this is great advice. And I'm apparently going to die at 35, because I haven't slept more than 5 hours a night since I was 17 years old.

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  2. I always feel cranky when I don't get enough rest. Also easily experience shortness of breath when I do the treadmill. I take short naps whenever I feel my body can't handle the stress at work or at home.

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