Making “Rest Day” a Priority

April 29, 2019

By Alexa Paolella

In today’s society, we’ve adapted the mind-set that we need to do more to feel better about ourselves. We’re constantly in “go” mode, running from one thing to the next, and not setting aside enough time for rest. Even when we get home after a long day to unwind, our brains are in “go” mode due to the extra time spent scrolling through Instagram or refreshing our email.

When we think of taking a “rest day,” we often assume it’s just about not exercising. However, a rest day is really about recharging both the body and the mind. Sometimes, canceling a workout class isn’t enough to make us feel better; we might still wake up the next day feeling sluggish and tired, which makes it that much more important to look at the bigger picture.

What do you do to rest and recharge? Do you sleep in, meet a friend for coffee, take a bath, or turn off notifications? You might even opt to stay in your pajamas and not get off the couch! What’s restful for one person might not be for another. It’s all about listening to your body and doing what’s right for you as a bio-individual.

Even if you’re the type to say there are never enough hours in the day, you still need to find ways to prioritize rest. Here are a few reasons why rest is so important.

Your Body
Burnout is a real thing that doesn’t only apply to people who exercise regularly. It can also affect those who are constantly moving, stressed out, sleep deprived, or refueling with caffeine. At some point, your body may suffer or experience an injury due to lack of rest. However, your body will likely signal when it’s hit a wall, with clues like increased heart rate, dehydration, weakened immune system, and feelings of depression. It’s so important to take care of your body so it has time to recover and repair. If you have a hard time sitting still, taking a walk in nature might enhance your mood while making you feel calmer.

Your Mind
You might feel like your body needs more rest because you can feel when your muscles are sore or stiff, but it’s just as important for your mind to rest from active brain time! After all, your mind is working all day – while you’re exercising, problem solving, and remembering things. Plus, your brain controls your body, so prioritizing rest for both is essential to feeling your best. When your brain is in overdrive, you might experience forgetfulness, confusion, and irrational or even aggressive emotions. Remember, it’s hard to think straight when your brain is exhausted! Activities that help you relax, like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, are great, but don’t forget to power down your devices, too!

Need help making it a routine? Here are some tips.

Choose a Day
For most, Saturdays and Sundays are the easiest days to schedule as rest days. However, just because you’re not at work for eight hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the rest your body and mind need. While it’s great to schedule an activity with friends or loved ones, constantly making plans or running errands might be adding more stress and fatigue to your life. Tell yourself ahead of time that either Saturday or Sunday (or both!) is for you and you only.

Set Boundaries
Simply marking a day on the calendar or scheduling a rest day doesn’t mean you’re good to go. How many times have you taken a PTO day and still been go-go-go? To ensure rest really happens, write down a few things you will and won’t do. Maybe you know you’ll go for a walk in the morning and won’t check or answer work emails. The list of things you “won’t do” might come a little easier to you at first, but once you figure out what helps you feel the most relaxed, you’ll be less stressed and more at ease as you head into a new week!

What does rest mean to you? How many rest days do you currently take each week? Share in the comments below!

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