So how do you do this thing called rest?

So, you've come as far as realising you're tired and that you need a break, a rest. But you're wired, tired and have no idea how to wind down. The idea of sitting and resting is impossible. You're too tired to concentrate on a book...the limit of your attention span is reading the first paragraph of random articles that come up in your social media streams? 

Rest is important. You'll work better, relate better, mother better, care better, nourish yourself better, exercise better. Honestly - there is more and more evidence about the value of sleep to the function of body and mind (Arianna Huffington has even launched a sleep revolution manifesto!)  and the value of rest for the recovery of muscles. So, here are some strategies to consider. 

  1. Breathe. Sit still and take 10 deep breaths. Concentrate on inhaling into every part of your lungs, and then exhaling until your lungs feel empty and your tummy muscles start to engage. Focus on the air moving through your nose and into your lungs. I find this an instant energiser. 
  2. Walk. Put on some comfortable shoes and take a walk around the block, if you have a dog you've got a perfect excuse. Listen to some music if it helps. Use the time to look around you, observe what you can see. Look up at the sky, the tops of trees, into the middle distance. Try and relax your gaze and focus and listen to the sounds around you. We often don't walk enough in our busy lives - it can be relaxing as well as gentle exercise at the same time. Many cultures observe an evening stroll, and it's a great way to bookend a day. 
  3. Meditate. I'm a big fan of meditation. It's a lifesaver when I've had very little sleep, but also if I'm feeling like my head is too full! I often use a guided meditation. Andrew Johnson has some great apps - Power Nap and Relax+ are free. I did a meditation course a couple of years ago which was a great introduction to a variety of meditation types and styles but also of the huge benefits to our mental and physical health. It can reduce anxiety, and blood pressure! I enjoy the Buddhist Loving Kindness meditation too - which has been studied for it's health benefits. 
  4. Concentrate on one thing you love doing. Whether it's reading a magazine or a book, cooking a delicious meal, talking to a friend, knitting/colouring/crafting, gardening, drinking a cup of tea. Put your phone and tablet away and just concentrate on one thing, even if for 10 minutes. Focussing on one task you enjoy rather than thinking of all of the other things you need to do can really help you relax. 
  5. Sleep. Get to bed earlier and turn off your phone/tablet/tv at least an hour before you go to sleep. Plan for 7/8 hours of sleep a night and go to bed accordingly. Hard to imagine, but give it a go. Take time getting ready for bed. Pamper yourself for a moment with a bath, a face massage,  or stretch out tired limbs,  and breathe deeply. And don't forget the humble art of napping. It's not just for babies and the elderly...if you're overtired it can really help energise you to cope with the rest of the day. Just closing your eyes and breathing deeply for a few moments can help calm your body's stress response. Maybe your office has a relaxation room, or you could take yourself off to your car, or close your eyes for a moment when you first get in from work. 

Try one or two of these strategies this week and let me know how you get on.