Rest is underestimated. Some of us are so busy we do not have time to rest. Some of us feel that we are resting when we are sitting on our phones catching up with social media. For some, we may feel a sense of guilt when we are resting, like we don’t deserve it or that we have so many things still to do.
What ever your relationship with rest is… I invite you to take a moment to check in with it. See if you can catch the story you are telling yourself or potentially avoiding…
For the purpose of this article, I will focus on our bodies ability to switch between rest and recovery mode (parasympathetic nervous system PNS) and fight or flight mode(sympathetic nervous system SNS) in a healthy way. Our ability to perform, be resilient and be healthy can be linked to how efficiently our bodies can switch between the two nervous systems.
For many of us we are constantly ‘switched on’. Demands from work, emails, deadlines, working with people in different time zones, family, social life. The list can be endless if we do not set boundaries. Add in the fear of missing out or missing something and we find ourselves ‘on demand’. We are continually pouring out energy from our bucket of resources which is our body, mind and soul.
When do you pour energy back in to your bucket?
Energy out VS Energy in
In my experience working with clients from all different industries, many of us are out of balance energetically.
Physically we ‘work out’ and rarely ‘work in’. We work out to relieve stress or to feel alive. We deplete a body that is already depleted of energy by adding more physical load. But we rarely cultivate our own energy from within.
Emotionally we may struggle to find inner balance and process our emotions in a skilful way during times of stress. This can then leave us feeling more drained from our bucket of energy.
Mentally our monkey mind runs wild for much of the day, over stimulated and constantly switching our attention between tasks, conversations and needs.
Spiritually we are more disconnected with nature and more connected to technology. Less connected with other human beings around us and more connected to observing strangers in other parts of the world.
In a healthy individual it is normal to be able to switch off easily and benefit from rest. When they sleep, go for a massage, take a nap, meditate or simply take a time out and engage in some mindful breathing they can stimulate their parasympathetic nervous system readily. They can switch off the fight or flight mode (sympathetic nervous system) and pour some energy back into their bucket.
Here is an example of a lifestyle assessment I did for a individual with a healthy nervous system. Green indicates her rest and recovery mode from a massage and 8 hours sleep. Red indicates stress reactions where she was engaged during the day. Stress reaction in this context does not mean positive or negative, it can be engaged, excited or being productive or being under pressure.
In an individual who is highly stressed or has experienced chronic stress their bodies are usually less resilient. They may not be able to switch off the fight or flight response so readily and so constantly feel tired and fatigued. This then affects their performance at work and their overall health. Even if they get a good amount of sleep they may not get quality recovery. Their ability to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system is affected and tends to be out of balance.
Here is an example of a lifestyle assessment I did for a individual who has experienced chronic stress and her nervous system is our of balance. Despite sleeping 8 hours her body was only able to switch into recovery mode for roughly 2.5 hours.
So even though you may be getting a decent amount of sleep and you feel like your getting enough rest, your nervous system and your physiology may tell a very different story. We can trick ourselves and tell ourselves that we can push on and maybe we have the resources and energy to do so. But what if your body just needs some down time, some rest, to unplug and to pour some energy back in to the bucket? Will you honour the needs of your body…
In my experience a little quality rest and introspection without distractions can go a long way towards performing better in all areas of your life and feeling a better sense of wellbeing.
If you are interested in measuring how resilient your body is, the quality of your sleep and how well you recover with our comprehensive lifestyle assessment please contact me.
Thank you for reading!