We all need rest. Resting our minds and our bodies is crucial if we want to restore our energies and perform at the best of our ability when we need to take on the tasks and challenges of everyday life.
While sleeping more and engaging in activities that relax us (reading, taking a bubble bath, etc.) might seem like obvious ways to rest up, the reality is that even when we do take the time to put rest first, we still don’t always feel as rested and rejuvenated as we think we should. Everyone knows what it feels like to feel groggy after a long nap or unmotivated to get back to in the swing of things after a “restful” weekend of doing practically nothing.
Ready to make your downtime REALLY feel like a good rest? Consider trying some of the following ideas!
Wait, we’re talking about rest, aren’t we? Absolutely!
Well, you read that subheading right — you may actually need to sleep LESS to rest better. Here’s why.
We sleep in cycles. One sleep cycle is completed in about 90 minutes, or one and a half hours, and goes through five stages: the first two being light stages of sleep, the third and fourth stages being a deeper sleep, and the last fifth stage being REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle is what often makes it feel so painful to get on with our day, so being aware of sleep cycles can help. If you’re going to nap or sleep a full night, you’ll ideally want to sleep for 1.5 hours, 3 hours, 4.5 hours, 6 hours, or 7.5 hours.
This isn’t a recommendation to sign up for the most challenging 90-minute vinyasa flow class you know of — it’s a suggestion to start thinking about how to make “active rest” part of your life. If that means yoga, then great! But really, active rest is anything that you consider fun, enjoyable, and a little spontaneous (yet still offers a relaxing effect).
Passive rest — which could mean zoning out on the couch for an hour or meditating in in your own backyard — can start to feel draining when done in excessive amounts. Doing something that excites you and gets you in your “fun mode” so to speak — like going to a local festival with friends or wine tasting with your partner — can help you hit that refresh button and leave you feeling more rested and rejuvenated than slouching on the couch while you watch four hours of Netflix.
Finally, give your mind a much needed break from all that daily task completion by setting yourself free from working toward a desired outcome and picking up a pencil, a paintbrush, a musical instrument, a pair of knitting needles, or anything else you love to work with creatively just for the sake of doing it. Without any goal in mind, just sink in to the moment and let yourself go as you create.
Connecting to your spirit and allowing your mind and body to just express what’s inside of you through the artistic medium of your choosing will give you the rest you need from your goal-oriented, task-driven life. This is what it means to make art!
You might be surprised at how restful any of the above activities might be. Find the ones that work best for you so that you know what to do next time you need a serious rest.