There seems to be a common theme around this fall season. Folks are tired. We have had a whirlwind of new things with back to school, businesses reopening and just all the things. There have been a lot of struggles and challenges presented as well as demands from us we haven’t had since the beginning of 2020. It’s a lot. Not only are our days full to the brim, our subconscious is also running on overdrive. The global pandemic brings a lot of thoughts and feelings into every corner of our activities. Then there are the thoughts and opinions of everyone else. Even if we choose not to allow those opinions of others to have influence on our life it is still a part of the ongoing subconscious energy. Our bodies have been in a constant state of stress for far too long. Today I want to talk about rest and why it needs to be built into our lives in a new way.
What happens when our body is under prolonged stress? We exhaust our reserves and we burn out. Everyone processes stress differently but the human bodies are all similar in the way they operate (with some exceptions). Let’s take a look at this further with what the Mayo Clinic has to say on the bodies response to stress.
“When you encounter a perceived threat — such as a large dog barking at you during your morning walk — your hypothalamus, a tiny region at your brain’s base, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with the brain regions that control mood, motivation and fear. The body’s stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities. But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follows can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems, including:
Memory and concentration impairment”
– Mayo Clinic
If this is new information you may be digesting the hard truth of why you haven’t been feeling well despite not having illness directly. If this is information you have heard before, it’s a good reminder. The truth is undeniable!
Rest and time is the answer to all things. Our society advertises that being an overachiever is what should be rewarded. Our society has pressured us to not only do everything but to do it well. It’s not realistic. There needs to be more emphasis on rewarding humans for listening to their bodies and making rest a part of self care and daily maintenance. I’m not talking about just making sure you get enough sleep. I am talking about slowing down, meditating, laughing, playing a game of cards, a hot cup of tea. Anything that rejuvenates your soul but also requires little of your body. Rest and relaxation is unique to everyone.
“Taking a long lunch break including a nap is common in a number of Mediterranean, tropical, and subtropical countries. The Washington Post of 13 February 2007 reports at length on studies in Greece that indicate that those who nap have less risk of heart attack.” – Wikipedia
For some great tips on how to relax check out this article.
Now, I’m not saying a nap is the answer. What I am saying is that if you do a little research on rest, the proof really is in the “pudding.” For me, rest was something I have had to make space for. Just as everyone else, burn out is unavoidable. If we go for long enough our body will fall asleep on its own. Without proper care, nutrition and rest to balance our hormones, chemistry etc our body will also shut down. So take it from me and learn about it before you get there. If you find reading about rest boring I encourage you to read about rest and relaxation in other cultures. Ask your neighbour or a colleague at work what they do to relax. Trust me when I say this. You can and will make time for it because you have to. Screen time does not count as rest and relaxation either. You need time for organic thought. An activity that allows your brain to free flow. Anything that is not stimulating, influencing or distracting. Tap into you. When we are rested and rejuvenated we really can conquer the world.