Recently there has been a lot of talk in the press and through various other media channels about the need for self care, I have written about it myself several times and I’m a huge advocate of having a good self care routine built into your lifestyle to help you combat anxiety, stress and burnout. One of the things we seem to talk about much less is rest.

What is rest? What is the difference between rest and self care? Do we need to do both?

Rest to me is part of self care but usually very different from the things we tend to think of when we think of our own self care routines. When I discuss self care with clients it’s often about activities that re-energise them – a massage, a soak in a bath, a walk with a dog, all of which are great things to introduce into your life and make sure you do regularly (obviously if you don’t have a dog that’s not so easy!) But actual rest – what does that look like for you?

The obvious one that springs to mind is sleep and that often has its own issues. So many of us struggle with sleep, how often do you comment to someone that you “don’t feel rested?” Sleep is a physical aspect of rest.

There are actually different types of rest –  physical, mental, emotional, sensory and social rest, all areas of our lives where we need to pay more attention. Mental and emotional rest is allowing ourselves the space and time to focus on ourselves where we are not physically active but can allow ourselves to daydream or just process information. It might mean sitting staring into space, going for a walk without a reason to do it?

Sensory rest is being able to “switch off” from screen time or things that over stimulate us, what we think is multi tasking by texting a friend whilst watching a film can cause sensory over load. Sometimes we need peace – no radio, no TV, just space to stop and not be bombarded by noise.

Social rest – talking time out from social situations which might feel goes against the grain at the moment having been so limited in our social capacity but it’s still important to pace yourself, to not over commit. Choosing wisely when we need to rest and not engage.

Rest can be a game changer. Rest can feel impossible at times BUT if we don’t do it, if we don’t listen to our bodies and our minds, we can find ourselves suffering from both physical and mental illness.

So how can you rest?

For me, it’s the not doing. It’s the not multi tasking where I feel like I’m wasting time if I just sit down and have a cuppa for 10 minutes without tying that into another task like checking my emails. Resting doesn’t always need to be large chunks of time it can be 10/15 minutes here and there where you just allow yourself to be, to not be doing anything.

This will feel completely alien for some, a waste of their time, really hard to do but the results can be immense.

Here are some other ways you can rest.

  • 10 minutes sitting down with a drink doing nothing other than drinking it.
  • 10 minutes in the garden sitting, listening to bird song or just focused on the noises around you.
  • 10 minutes walk around the block – not a “fitness walk” not going somewhere walk, not a dog walk but just observing your neighbourhood.
  • 10 minutes lying down concentrating on your breathing (try not to fall asleep if it’s a busy day) focus on your body just resting.
  • 10 minutes reading a book – pure escapism.
  • 10 minutes away from all technology, ignoring any pings or alerts, even better sitting in another room away from technology.

I’m sure you’ll think of some ways that you too can rest, things that just allow you to switch off for a short period of time. if you take 10 minutes out of your day to disconnect with the world and rest, you will still get everything done, the world will not cave in and you will feel better for it. I would also thoroughly recommend having one day a month or at least a morning or afternoon set aside to just rest, just be, nothing planned but recharging those batteries – it might feel impossible now but once you’ve done it you’ll want to do it again.