Has Our Generation Forgotten How To Rest?

Sun Salutation Variations

Our generation is living the height — so far — of the age of information. Every day we are bombarded with information coming from emails, Facebook, news, and all the other apps on our phones. We’re expected to receive all that information immediately, and to think, respond and make decisions quickly. It’s no wonder we think 24 hours isn’t enough to finish everything we wanted to. The days just aren’t long enough!

After a day of rushing around, it’s often hard to wind down and fall asleep when we finally get to bed. The monkey mind keeps on going: analysing the events of the day, remembering things that we didn’t get to today and must remember to do tomorrow, making plans for the future, recalling a conversation that happened… so, naturally, we end up not sleeping very well.

By the next morning, we’ve hardly gotten enough rest, but there is no time to snooze! New emails, posts, and events are waiting for us, and they urgently need our attention. That is, until we come back home at night for another fitful sleep — and so the routine continues.

Help Your Body Help You

Today’s word of the day is homeostasis. This is a fancy way of referring to the body’s natural ability to take care of itself, such as…

  • Taking care of problems
  • Fighting illness
  • Creating energy
  • Maintaining constant temperature
  • Re-generating cells
  • Pumping blood around the body
  • Breathing

…and performing many more activities without any effort from us. Looking at all this, one could say homeostasis is the chemist of the body. However, for any of this to happen the body needs to be well-rested.

Think about when you have a cold and after a good day of sleep and rest, you automatically feel better. If you don’t take that time to rest the cold stays for much longer, and the body struggles to fight it off. Rest is a crucial part of our everyday health, not just when you’re sick! If you build times of rest into your schedule, the body wouldn’t have to get sick at all. A cold might be just an annoying nuisance, but what about developing modern-day illnesses like cancer, diabetes or a heart attack? When you take care of the body, it has a very powerful ability to protect you and help prevent these illnesses from developing.

5 Ways To Find Rest In Your Life

What does rest mean? Is it watching TV when we get back home? Is it reading a book as we wind down for the night and let go of the day? Or is it going to the gym? Or indulging a glass of wine with cheese?

Assuming that all of the above activities are different from what you spend your time doing most of the day, they can provide some form of rest as the body switches the focus and concentrates on something else. However, true rest comes from slowing down the mind and doing nothing at all. Here are some tips on things you can do to allow the body to rest:

1. Sleep Tight, Don’t Let The Bed Bugs Bite

How much time do you take to sleep every day? The average recommendation is 7-8 hours per day. Often people don’t get this many hours of sleep because they don’t allocate enough time for it. Others have a hard time falling asleep, tossing and turning for an hour after they go to bed. Practising yoga helps you fall asleep in the evening and allows the nervous system to sync in with the cycle of the day. This will ease your mind into a restful state so your body knows to fall sleep the minute your head hits the pillow!

2. Take Your Holidays

America holds the medal for least paid vacation time in the world — but let’s not allow this phenomenon to happen in Europe. Right now, the UK considered one of the world’s leaders when it comes to paid time off, but are we actually using holidays to rest, or as an opportunity to do everything we don’t have time to do while at work?

Holidays are a great way to connect with your true nature, and allow the state of homeostasis to re-engage. It’s important to remember that (at least some of) your holidays are for things you love, things that we are passionate about and bring joy to the heart. This allows us to relax and sleep better which supports our overall health and well-being.

3. Try Meditating

Meditation is one of the primary tools we have to slow down the mind, and with the plethora of books, apps and CDs at our disposal, it’s never been easier to start!. During this practice we aim to create space between our thoughts and bring our awareness to the present moment. As we breathe and meditate, it helps the nervous system to calm down and take a break. Meditation can also aid a good night of sleep, doubling the health benefit of the practice.

4. Take A Nap

Naps are a great way to slow down and relax. It might be difficult to do this while at work, but weekends and holidays are an ideal time. Yoga Nidrā is a great relaxation technique that often feels like a nap and sometimes results in one. It is amazing how relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated one session of Yoga Nidrā can make you feel — and a great timer to make sure you don’t oversleep. If you haven’t tried this technique before, I would highly recommend you give it a go.

5. Social Media Detox

I love social media and I think it is a great way to stay connected with people, share ideas, and get inspiration. However, it also contributes to a sense of ‘not being here’ every time you wonder what’s happening in the digital sphere. Try turning off your phone completely, and notice the sense of relief that comes from knowing your phone won’t go off and interrupt you. Notice how this impacts your sleep and the way you feel in the morning the following day.

Over To You

Do you have a regular rest practice that you use? What is your favourite way to relax? Let me know in the comments if you will or have already tried some of the techniques listed above. If you struggle to find rest and want to know more, bookstores often have a section on restfulness and sleep, our Yoga Nidrā page recommends some downloads so you can start a practice straight away, or you could even find a health coach (such as myself) who can help with finding a way that fits rest into your life and schedule. Whatever the case, if you make sure there is time for your body and mind to rest, I can’t tell you how much your body will thank you!

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