There’s no doubt that many of our minds are on hyper-alert. The stress response of feeling vigilant, worrying , planning, working, and dealing with immediate day-to-day chores can be overwhelming. At this time of lockdown when we supposedly have “more time”, we can actually feel burnt out, because so much is changing, uncertainty pervades and the balance of the “known” is thrown off. Expectations of “being more productive”, having more family time, exercise etc can actually deplete us by making us feel like we are not “making the most” of the time that we have? A spectrum of emotions like guilt, shame, anger, anxiety, frustration are part of what we experience through the day.
While there are many ways of approaching mental wellbeing in this time, I’ve chosen to focus on “non-doing” in this piece.
Can you even feel the wave of relaxation course through your body if I say
“Pause” – take a deep breath in to the count of 3,
and exhale to the count of 4.
In that simple, simple practice – you are actually resetting your nervous system from the Fright/Flight/Freeze (sympathetic nervous system) to the Rest/Restore/Digest (parasympathetic). Your heart starts to beat slower, your lungs get more oxygen, your muscles in your body relax, and your digestive system can come on line. It cannot be underestimated how important the restorative needs of our bodies are to keep us functioning optimally so we can show up as our best selves physically, mentally and emotionally for ourselves and those around us.
Most often we believe that its just sleep that can help us rest and restore. While sleep is an important component of deep rest, it’s only one component. Sleep helps us to restore our bodies and contrary to popular beliefs sleep is actually and active process of processing and memory consolidation, physical restoration and where many hormonal cycles are in play. Many chronic mental and physical illnesses have been associated with poor sleep habits and hygiene.
Is sleep where our rest stops?
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, in her book, Sacred Rest talks about rest that is:
In physical rest, we can help restore our bodies through sleep, massage, eating nourishing foods.
Mental rest can be about helping the chattering mind through meditation and contemplative practices.
Spiritual rest can be about connecting to that which is transcendent to us.
Emotional rest is about having the space and courage and permission to feel what we feel
Sensory rest is about taking time away from constant barrage of sensory inputs like noise, screens and phones, smells and tastes.
Social rest helps us connect to relationships that nourish us rather than depletes us.
Creative rest is about connecting to the side of us that uses our right brains.
How rested are you in these dimensions? You can take a quiz http://ichoosemybestlife.com/quiz/rest-quiz-test/ to find out what your rest score is.
With honest reflection, what are the areas that you need rest in?
How can you stop energy drains, recharge and replenish vital aspects of your being?
– so that you can indeed be fully present and awake to life – for despite the challenges, we can always choose wisely, and show up fully engaged for the sake of ourselves and our loved ones.