The importance of rest

All cosy and rested? 

One of the definitions of rest (and the one we need for the purposes of this post) is to “cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep or recover strength.” Gosh, to me, even reading that seems relaxing?

Previously, I have spoken about my journey with resting, being prone to burn out and overdoing it when I feel good. I wanted to talk about the importance of rest as a gentle reminder for you all as you all matter and deserve rejuvenating rest. Especially during these times.

Sleep

Everyone knows it. We need at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night to have maximum executive function, a good mental state and good cognition to function throughout your day. But did you know 1 in 3 people suffer from poor sleep with stress often being blamed and that a severe lack in sleep can put you at risk of serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and can shorten your life expectancy (NHS)? 

It sounds quite serious, and yes this is with long-term poor quality and shortened lengths of sleep but sleep is so vital to us as humans. The occasional night may mean irritability the next day but after several nights you become far more frustrated, increase the likelihood of severe burn out and a large drop in mood. It would become harder to make decisions and concentrate properly too.

On a more positive note, having plenty of sleep means a boost in immunity, lessens the risk of diabetes as studies show deep sleep can impact how the body produces glucose. Of course, feeling like you’ve had plenty of rest can boost your mood and lower levels of depression and anxiety. 

On a personal note, I have seen both sides of the spectrum. I wasn’t always the greatest sleeper as a child and come 2012 in my depressive state I only slept on average about 3 hours for months before GCSEs. My sleep didn’t improve much beyond that for years averaging around six hours until 2018 when I went back to 3 hours or no sleep at all. I didn’t know what to do about it and everything in my life seemed to keep getting worse. My antipsychotic medication did help me, and now that I have a decent night routine that works for me and I have developed more of a daily routine I do find I settle much more easily. I found that even if I had a draining day I would sleep even worse, but having some downtime has helped.

The NHS offers some good reminders on what can drain you and reduce your quality of and time sleeping. One thing I have found incredibly useful as someone with a long-term illness is known as The Spoon Theory and I have found it such a powerful reminder (there are too many links but easily searched!)

Downtime

We are, of course, awake for most of the day but what we do with our time is just as vital as getting plenty of sleep. If we are constantly in doing mode, full of stress or worry or adrenaline, this can be just as unhealthy and can lead to a severe anxiety disorder. We, as creatures, are not built to be constantly switched on. As we have evolved so too have our ways of relaxing, it’s no longer purely sleep. 

This could be through hobbies, passions, routines, a retreat, getting away. It could be as small as ten minutes having a bit shower or a long holiday away. We all need a rejuvenation at the end of the day to prepare us for the next and regular time away from life’s responsibilities. I often hear people say “well there’s not enough time in the day!” Believe me, I understand this, but you need to make time, for the sake of your health. Physically block the time off in your schedule and do what you need to do to feel better. It’s for your health in the long run, hardly selfish. Remember that. 

How you do it is up to you and it make take some time figuring out what it is you need to sustain your well-being and rest, but start with hobbies and simple things like changing habits and go from there. the way you do it is as unique and as wonderful as you.

Rest up my lovelies, I’m thinking of you,

L x

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