The World We Live In
The concept of resting to success can feel pretty foreign to most driven high achiever types. I might add however that it is a lifestyle widely embraced by many of the oldest cultures through the world. Here in North America, we are taught from such an early age to love the hustle, work hard, chase your goals that this approach is both consciously and unconsciously ingrained in most people.
It only gets more dramatic as we age into the workforce. The modern corporate culture actively rewards those who claim to be “too busy” to cook, practice their passions or even spend time with family or friends. The competition for who can brag about the most packed schedule is never ending! High rates of burnout, alcohol abuse, caffeine abuse, adrenal fatigue and many other highly preventable conditions are a direct reflection of this attitude.
The truth is… being ‘on’ all the time is simply not how to human body is wired. We can achieve far better results by working smarter, not harder.
Creative Thinking & Rest
An interesting note is that the clarity on what we actually deeply wish to achieve only comes from the practice of tuning into the body through rest, silence and contemplation. It is during restful times that deeper vision, inspiration and the best ideas make their presence known. For example, have you every struggled to solve a problem and stressed out about not having the answer? Then, after giving up and taking a nap, a walk or a hot shower – all of a sudden the answer just comes charging into your mind. We often wonder in these instances, why didn’t I just think of that sooner?
The answer lies in our nervous system. Regularly returning to our parasympathetic nervous system mode, also known as Rest and Digest, is the key to so many health supportive habits. From properly digesting our food, creative problem solving and muscle recovery, to detoxification and elimination – this often neglected phase is scientifically understood to support many long-term health outcomes, as well as better productivity and overall happiness.
The only issue is… our bodies are usually living in a state of constant sympathetic nervous system mode, also known as Fight or Flight. The reasons for this are many layered – including poor sleep quality, environmental toxins, internal toxic load, caffeine dependence, not slowing down to eat and ignoring innate bodily signals to increase rest.
Think about it for a second: you don’t go to the gym and expect to see the difference in your physique the minute you get home! We grow muscles only when we choose to rest, relax and nourish afterwards – and wait patiently for results while continually pursuing the work. In terms of goal setting and integrating healthy lifestyle practices, the process is the same.
I like to call this Structured Relaxation because it’s also key to not let an empowered approach to rest turn into pure n’ simple laziness.
The body always has an innate agenda, which most of the time we are not even consciously aware of. Even when resting doesn’t always feel like it’s moving us closer to our goals, for many of us it’s the missing ingredient to achieving the results we seek.
Set aside at least fifteen minutes per day of free white space. I like to recommend fifteen minutes as a realistic starting point for most clients, but feel free to make this longer or shorter in honor of your needs and lifestyle. Pencil it into your planner like an appointment if you have to! Your mind and body will thank you later.