We're very fortunate that my father-in-law lives in a beautiful development right on the beach near the gorgeous town of Estepona in Spain. It's a home away from home which means we can just as easily work out there as we can in London...that is, until you forget all your crucial live streaming equipment and camera chargers back in London! With none of the right equipment available, a 4 day break away from planning, teaching, filming and editing was forced on me and I can't say I haven't enjoyed it!
I recently read an article where they'd coined the phrase 'busyresting'. This is the kind of multitasking where you're doing something 'productive' alongside something 'restful'. When you 'busyrest', you might look like you're resting, you might even feel like you're resting, but you're not recharging. Think, doing your emails from bed, cleaning the house in your PJs, catching up on your favourite Netflix show while sorting out the washing or going on holiday but continuing to build in time for work! While you're trying to complete a mental to-do list you're skipping over time for genuine rest which is so important not only for your long-term health but also for your everyday happiness and sanity!
Here's why it's so important;
1. Resting heals your body
Regardless of your activity levels, your body needs time to recoup and recharge and that needs to be more regularly than holding out until a holiday at the end of the school term or treating yourself to a Saturday in bed after working 15 hours days all week to get a project finished. We should rest preventatively rather than just reactively to stress and overwhelm. Taking regularly daily breaks away from physical exertion or emotional stress promotes better mental health, boosts creativity, increases your productivity, reduces stress and improves your mood. The amount of rest your body needs could vary day to day based on a number of factors including how well you slept, how stressful your home / work environment might feel that day, feeling under the weather, being in a low mood, etc.
2. Resting reduces stress
Stress is an intrinsic part of life and can sometimes be unavoidable. There's 2 different types of stress you can experience, acute stress which is a short term stress that goes away quickly and the other is chronic stress which lasts for a longer period of time and can suppress your immune system and increase your risk of disease. Stress heightens your senses to perceived danger and can lead to an increased heart rate and blood pressure, a slower digestive system and an increase in hormone responses like cortisol. Resting activates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps to calm you down. A great tool for activating your parasympathetic nervous system is focusing on deep, 360 breathing (which our Barre regulars will know, is also the best foundation to also get your core system firing properly!).
3. Resting boosts creativity.
Taking time out and embracing quieter moments gives you some time for reflection which naturally makes you more creative. Without the world's longest to-do list rattling through your head you can give yourself the time and space to think creatively about all sorts of different solutions, whether they be related to your home life or work life.
4. Resting improves productivity.
When you feel fatigued your brain will be less functional so although you might feel it's 'unproductive' to spend time resting, it will actually be much better for your overall performance in the long run. When it gets to the end of a restful holiday (and I know, sometimes not the case with little ones) you generally feel refreshed and ready to get stuck into normal life with a renewed enthusiasm.
Here are some simple ways you can create habits that encourage you to rest;
1. Practice gratitude
Firstly I would 100% recommend buying 'The 5 Minute Journal' to help you cultivate a daily habit of practicing gratitude. Each morning the journal prompts you to think of 3 things you're grateful for, 3 things that would make that day great and 1 daily affirmation. In the evening, the journal encourages you to think of 3 things that went well that day and 1 thing that would have made your day even better.
There are 2 reasons I love this practice; the first one being it forces you to take a time out for reflection twice a day and the second being it's such an effective way of cultivating happy thoughts, setting you up for a positive day. The trick is to focus on the little things that you're positive for and you will start to see how much extra joy there is to be found in the everyday.
2. Take deep breaths
This could come in the form of a meditation practice, a few conscious deep breaths while you're boiling the kettle or focusing on the connection to your breath in an exercise class. The impact of deep breathing on taking your whole system down a notch is honestly amazing. If you can make time for 10 minutes of meditation a day I promise it will have an immediate effect on how you feel after each practice and the cumulative impact of that can be nothing short of life changing. I really like the 10 minute meditations on Calm's YouTube channel, particularly if you're just starting to dip your toe into meditation.
3. Move your body
Although you're still physically exerting your body, some people may find that movement for them is the best way they can mentally rest. They're 100% 'in the room' and focusing on whatever class or movement they're doing. For others, movement (particularly sessions like high impact HIIT sessions) will only add to their stress levels. Finding a great, low impact form of movement that makes you feel strong and empowered will help reduce the effects of stress, improve your mood and regulate your hormones. No prizes for guessing this is exactly where I would insert a recommendation for Barre! It's a low impact, mindful practice that takes you away from the stresses of the everyday and carves out a time for you to feel strong and powerful.
Last but certainly not least, getting good quality sleep is so important for both your physical and mental health. I know everyone's sleep patterns will be influenced by both their mental and physical environments, sometimes including uncontrollable factors (like toddlers on a late night rampage!) but we can help ourselves by trying to establish some great habits to help you get better quality sleep.
Firstly, set a sleep schedule with fixed bed times and wake up times (as best you can!). The bedtime app on the iPhone is great for plugging in your recommended 8 hours of sleep, adding a wake up alarm and giving you a recommended lights out time as well as encouragement to put your phone down with all notifications stopped an hour before your bedtime.
Adding a little pre bedtime meditation in a dimly lit room is also an amazing way to help you slow down your mind and allow for your body's natural melatonin production which is a hormone that is essential for a good nights sleep.
With 4 restful days under my belt and all these good habits to take back to London with me, I'm ready to get back to our live classes and pour from a much fuller cup!
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