Rest. Why doing nothing will change your life for the better.

Rest. A four-letter word that conjures up visions of happy times: holidays, days off, family time, hobbies. Peace. Times of rest are precious moments when we can unplug, forget our troubles, and recharge our batteries. Why then are the statistics showing that fewer and fewer people are getting enough rest today? What is it that stops us from taking that important time to recuperate?

Todays world is a busy one. So many demands are placed on us by many different people and we feel a sense of obligation to max out our resources to achieve certain expectations. This is all done, however, at a detriment to our own wellbeing. We know that rest is important. Even before the advances that science has taken in the last 100 years, we knew how important rest was. We could observe the changes that a lack of it caused.

Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.

leonardo da Vinci

Sleep doesn’t just affect our judgement. It affects so many aspects of our health, wellbeing, abilities, and mental fitness. By ensuring we make time to stop, switch off, and rest, we will be doing ourselves a favour. In doing nothing, or at least very little, we can create for ourselves a more balanced and enjoyable time on this earth. We only get one go around, so let’s look after ourselves and embrace the importance of doing nothing through rest.

Taking the time to rest affects three crucial things: Mind, Body, and Soul. The three are separate, and yet interconnected, and by discovering how rest impacts each one, we can focus on ways to implement more effective rest time into our lives.


mind. mind body and soul. rest. mental health.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Mental and Emotional fitness

You know what it’s like. When you don’t get enough sleep and the next day you’re cranky, tired, slow, emotional. You get the picture. When we fail to accrue the necessary 7-8 hours of sleep each night, our minds suffer the consequences, both in their capacity to function well, and their ability to remain emotionally in balance. Sleep; long, restful, and regular sleep, is vital when facing the challenges of day-to-day life, and helping us to keep a better sense of mental and emotional wellness.

Sleep is especially important if you are prone to issues with depression, anxiety, loneliness, or any other such difficulties that plague our modern society. Indeed they are so intrinsically linked that we must purposefully create time to look after our mental and emotional health in order to both ease and keep away those debilitating challenges. When we sleep better, we allow ourselves more mental resilience to cope with whatever we may face daily.

Happiness can be yours

This is linked to what I’ve just said above. Rest fosters happiness. When we wake in a better mood because we have slept well, we are better able to attack the day with zeal. We feel positive and energised, feeling a greater sense of contentedness that buoys us through whatever we have set ourselves to achieve. Happiness is also related to taking specific times each week to down tools and focus our minds on other things. When we choose to occupy our time with restful things like walks, gentle exercise, reading, family time, we find greater balance in our minds and make space for the important things in life. We’re happier when we rest.

Control those stressors

We all have stress of some sort in our lives. No-one goes through life without feeling it at some point. But when we neglect to take sufficient rest, we become less equipped to deal with stressors. Our mental acuity is diminished and what we would normally be able to cope with, becomes a source of stress to us. If you are prone to feelings of stress in your life, it of course becomes even more important to set aside meaningful rest times both with sleep and down-time. Don’t allow your stress to control you.

Read my blog on coping with stress here now.

Improves our memory

Rest, specifically sleep, is an aid to better memory. During our hours of sleep, our brains are working hard to repair themselves. Links are created, memories made, information processed, junk cleared out, and our minds rejuvenated for the next day. The National Sleep Foundation implemented a study that found that, while we sleep, memories and skills are shifted to more efficient and permanent brain regions, making for higher proficiency the next day. Sleep allows our brains time to process what we have learned that day, thus making us better learners, moving new information into more permanent parts of our brains.

Creativity requires rest

The best minds need rest to function at their optimum. How are we expected to produce good results at work, in our creative pursuits, in problem-solving, if we don’t look after the thing that does all the hard work? Temporary measures like caffeine, energy drinks, or worse, pills of some sort, will all reap a reward we are not ready to deal with. We must therefore look after our minds with rest in order to give our brains the capacity to function well.

Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.

Louisa may alcott


rest. mind body and soul. body. looking after your body. health.
Image by Matan Ray Vizel from Pixabay
Healthy Body

When we deliberately take time to rest, our body will thank us for it in the long run. There are countless studies on how taking the appropriate amount of sleep each night directly impacts our physical health.

Sleep affects almost every tissue in our bodies. It affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health.

Dr. Michael Twery
sleep expert at National Institute of Health
News in Health newsletter

The article from the News in Health newsletter goes on to say, Research shows that lack of sleep increases the risk for obesity, heart disease, and infections.

You may not have been aware of just how vastly your sleep affects your physical being, but you knew it was important! Have you noticed the rise in cases of heart disease, obesity, and other general ailments? I’m not attributing them all to a lack of decent sleep, but if we can control a contributing factor, shouldn’t we?

Eating Less

Who knew? By sleeping regular hours, that is 7-8 hours each night, we are less likely to eat as many calories each day. Managing our weight has become a global economy unto itself. How many fad diets have you tried? How many exercise regimes that claim miracle results have you sweated your way through? Well, it turns out that unless you are sleeping well, they are not going to have nearly the effect you’d like.

Sleep deprivation raises levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and decreases levels of leptin, the hormone that makes us feel full. To compensate for lower energy levels, people who sleep poorly may be more likely to seek relief in foods that raise blood sugar and put them at risk of obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes.

Sleep Foundation
Feel Restored and Energised

In direct correlation to weight management, if we sleep better, we’re likely to feel better, restored, and energised for the day. However, it’s not just sleeping that helps us to feel rejuvenated. Taking days off, going on holiday, having special days away with friends or family, all help us to break that routine that we get ourselves stuck in each week. When we don’t step away and truly rest, our bodies start to tire, our mood worsens, and the things I’ve already mentioned about our health start to affect us.

It’s all about balance. When we keep our priorities in check and make time for rest, we will feel that much needed restorative care that only rest can provide.

An anti-aging dream

Our society today is obsessed with turning back the clock and preventing those age lines and sagging from appearing on our faces. Magic creams and potions that claim miraculous results at an eye-watering price tag. Having never tried one, I cannot claim to know of their efficacy. But much like our diet, sleep plays a vital role in your beautification. Regular sleep keeps us more relaxed and stress-free, which has a direct impact on our skin. I know that when I get stressed or really tired my skin suffers. You feel dull and grey, your skin feels heavy on your tired face and, if you’re like me, you rub your sleepy face to try and wake up. With sensitive skin, this is not good! It just rubs dirt in!

Sleep improves the elasticity of your skin, makes you better able to fight off stressors to your skin and environmental toxins, and thus you will age more gracefully.

Pain management

Chronic pain is something I’ve blogged about before as someone who deals with it. And I know firsthand how lack of sleep seriously affects my ability to cope with it. Lack of sleep increases our sensitivity to pain, presumably since our brain is fatigued and less able to cope with all of our natural functions. Like asking an athlete to perform to their best on no breakfast.

But equally, pain itself can be the cause of our disrupted sleep, and thus we enter the vicious cycle of pain and sleep deprivation. For me, I am trying to overcome the issue through physiotherapy since my pain is related to weak muscles. However, if you are suffering from chronic pain and you haven’t sought medical advice, please do so. Don’t suffer in silence.


rest. mind body and soul, soul.
Image by Jacob Lange from Pixabay
Deepening Relationships

By taking time to rest, take days away, go on holiday, we allow ourselves time to deepen our relationships with the people that matter the most to us. Rushed chats as we dash out the door, or on our harried drive to football practice, are fine, but they don’t say I’m invested in you. Switch off the phone, the TV, the computer and spend quality time with those around you. Play board games, go for a walk, take a picnic, do some DIY together, take a weekend break somewhere nice. Whatever you are able to do, make time for it and enjoy those precious moments with your loved ones.

Reflect a little

How often do you make time to reflect upon your life and evaluate where you are. Often we are so engrossed in our day-to-day routine that we forget we had big dreams. To do such-and-such, or go to this country, learn this skill, paint our home, have children…When we take a step back and evaluate our lives, we can see if we are living our lives according to our values, dreams, and ambitions, or if it is just passing us by.

Balance is key

It, therefore, follows that we need to keep everything in balance; days of rest, days of work. When we deliberately take a day or two of rest, we can begin to find our identity outside of our 5-day-a-week routine. If we are solely defined by our work, our work defines us. When we take that rest time, we can choose to be defined in a different way, by who we are, not what we do.

Better productivity

These day/s off are not a waste of time. So often it is perceived that if we take time away from work we will fall behind, or someone else will get ahead. That the whole company will fall apart in our absence, or that people will think less of us by taking a break. These are all illusions and actually stop you from being an effective and productive employee. By taking that break, you of course are refreshed and able to get back to work ready to contribute effectively. Work smarter, not longer!

Reserve tank full

Life is challenging at times. It’s not all plane sailing. If we are better rested, however, we will have energy in reserve to better cope with whatever difficulties we face. All of the benefits of sleeping well and taking rest days will be of immense benefit to you because you will have stored up good coping mechanisms. John, my husband, always says you reap what you sow, later than you sow, greater than you sow. It’s from the Bible and it’s true. If we live in a way that damages our minds, bodies, and souls, it can only be a matter of time before something has to give. So store up good things for those times when you need to rely on them.

Some helpful hints to get you going

There are many factors in life that are directly linked to our sleep or lack of it, and taking appropriate rest. Most of them are within our control.

help. rest. how to rest.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Feeling like we should be more, better, further on, leads to that feeling of inadequacy. This in turn makes us strive for more of that elusive something else that is going to make everything else right. The constant need to improve our lot by the attainment of money, power, or skills can rob us of our contentment and security. Life is not about what we have, it’s about who we are. Without adequate rest, we cannot enjoy the life we have, just as we cannot truly enjoy our rest without contentment and security. It’s time to focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t.

For more help dealing with self-comparison, follow the link to my blog and get the help you desire.

Make better plans

Planning your time better will ensure that you are making time for that all-important rest. Whether it’s getting to bed by a certain hour and establishing a nightly routine that helps you wind down, or planning your rest days more effectively so that you are making time both for yourself and others. If we fly by the seat of our pants all the time, we will only live erratic lifestyles that lose focus on what is important and necessary for our overall wellbeing.

It’s your life. Own it!

You are in control of your time. If you feel that you are not getting the down-time you require, then do something about it. Change your habits, reorganise your days, so that you are prioritising rest. You are only as busy as you allow yourself to be.

Keep it simple

Try to embrace a simpler approach to life. Declutter, simplify, and focus less on material wealth as your identity. You are more than what you own. You are more than the tasks that fill up your days. Stop and appreciate the simple things in life and you will find moments of rest each day that would otherwise have passed you by.

Be inclusive

Often, trying to make changes in your life can be a challenge, especially if you feel you are alone in them. So include your family and friends in the changes. If you are all working with a common goal in sight then your chances of making the changes are exponentially higher. Making time to rest together will improve your relationships, and your overall health as a family.

Be financially savvy

Debt is a killer of joy and peace. Materialism only feeds this joy stealer. Decide what is essential, pay your bills, and be discerning with what you buy thereafter. If we exceed our income, we are on a slippery slope to financial difficulty. When we are worrying about debt, we are stealing ourselves of true rest.

It’s the small things that make a big difference!

rest. small things in life. live your best life.
Image by Ashutosh Goyal from Pixabay

As with any change we try to make in our lives, it is good to start small and see those changes stick before adding something else in. This applies to my tips above and anything else you might like to try. Often making time for little things that bring us momentary rest helps us each day to enjoy life.

  • Take a relaxing bath
  • Read a chapter of your book
  • Take a gentle walk
  • Enjoy a pre-prepared meal of leftovers
  • Sit out in your garden
  • Take a 30-minute nap
  • Do some yoga or tai chi
  • Meditate
  • Sit and enjoy and warming drink

Rest and be thankful!

If you’ve ever been to Scotland and been fortunate enough to travel up the West Coast, you may have encountered a Pass called the Rest and be Thankful. Why is it called this, I hear you ask? Well, I had to find out myself as it happens and it was a serendipitous moment for me. It so happens that when walkers climb out of Glen Croe, the path is so steep and long that by the time they get to the top, they need to take a rest, stop, and be thankful they got there in the end. A commemorative stone has been on that spot for centuries and thus it came by its name.

My point? Well, when we take time to stop and rest, we not only recuperate our strength to keep going, but we can look back and be thankful for what we have enjoyed so far in life. The lessons we’ve learned, the trials we have overcome, the joys we have shared, can all be appreciated when we stop and rest.

Take time to rest, and be thankful!

It’s your turn!

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