REST is time spent free of action points, or tick-lists. Rest gives you time to slow down, and just relax. Restful activities include slow walks in nature, leisurely hot baths, relaxing massages, journaling, practising qi-gong or yoga, creative visualisation, meditation, or simply taking a quick power nap. Restful activities do NOT include watching television, going to the pub, or going for a run. These activities are not considered truly restful.
Rest promotes the parasympathetic nervous system which is known as the body’s ‘rest and digest’ response. The parasympathetic nervous system balances the sympathetic nervous system which is the body’s ‘flight or fight’ stress response. The frantic pace of modern life pushes the sympathetic nervous system – we need to be seen to doing, rushing, achieving, and responding. We want to balance this every day stress by building some rest into each day.
Symptoms of sympathetic dominance include:
- Poor sleeping patterns, including insomnia
- Poor digestion, including chronic constipation
- Accelerated ageing
- High blood pressure
- Low resistance to colds and infections
- Reproductive problems
- Tense muscles
Adding periods of rest into your day can help to prevent these symptoms, by reinforcing the parasympathetic nervous system and re-balancing your body. Injecting restful moments into your day can also promote:
- Productivity – you get more done
- Overall health
- Energy levels
If you are sympathetic dominant, you will probably need to learn how to rest. At first you might find this very difficult to do. However, if you start off doing what you feel you can manage, you can progress on from there. The amount of rest you need depends upon how out of balance your nervous system is, the more sympathetic dominant you are the more rest you will probably need.
I used to struggle to slow down as I felt I wasn’t being productive if I had time-off during the day. If I missed the bus I would feel anxious, even although there was another one in five minutes time. I was always rushing around but always late and stressed out when I got places! My productivity was poor, and I just did what I had always been doing as I didn’t have the space to think about what I really wanted to do. I started to consciously slow down my walking speed and add in more time to get from A to B. This made a huge difference. It felt uncomfortable to walk so slow but it got easier over time. I added in some power naps, and this made even more difference. Now I am much slower, but feel calmer and happier about that. I would like to start doing qi-gong now, something I could never imagine achieving before.