Stress Less

Rest...Embracing Seasons

Today's topic: Rest 

It was the middle of the day, and I was already feeling exhausted from thinking about what I had to do (take note of the word "had", we will touch on that in a few minutes).Do the laundry, clean the kitchen, call back so and so to switch massage clinic shifts, but first I have to think about what works, and oh yah, write on my blog, and..... the list could go on. 
Have you ever felt that way?? No? Okay, well then for the rest of you honest people, let's talk about the importance of rest. 

We will talk about 1) Definition of rest 2) Cultural attitudes toward rest 3) How rest affects the body 4) Practical applications for rest in your life.

1)What is rest?

Webster's dictionary describes "rest" as the following:

Definition of REST

: reposesleepspecifically : a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities
a : freedom from activity or laborb : a state of motionlessness or inactivityc : the repose of death
: a place for resting or lodging
: peace of mind or spirit
(1) : a rhythmic silence in music (2) : a character representing such a silenceb : a brief pause in reading
: something used for support
— at rest
: resting or reposing especially in sleep or death
: free of anxieties

Illustration of REST

When most of us think of 'getting rest', we probably think of when we go to sleep at night. To expand your horizons: Rest can also be taking a few minutes of the day to either sleep, or quiet the mind. Rest also can be viewed in a much bigger picture, say, taking a few months away from watching tv or from a particular activity.

2) Cultural attitudes toward rest.

If you are an American citizen, chances are that you are taught that rest is not valued. Nobody ever straight up says that, but its taught by deduction- productivity is valued. Get more done faster! is what we like. 
Some examples: Sleeping on the job is highly frowned upon in our culture. Coffee is the preferred drug in the US because it helps us do more things faster <this blog is powered by a freshly brewed cup of coffee>. If we do not get our food within a certain time-frame we deem it 'bad service'. Faster! Faster! FASTER! is what we gravitate towards. We fill our schedules with learning, sports, social activities, family, you name it. None of these things are bad, but if you ask somebody if they would rather get a few things checked off their daily list, or lay down for an hour, you can bet that they would rather get the list knocked out. Sure, some people will say "I would rather lay down", but do they? As Americans, we tend to think that getting those things to do off the list is somehow better for our overall mental wellness. There is a serious imbalance between work/play and rest.

3). How does rest affect the body?

The body has an amazing system in place for just about everything- stimulus, response, adaptation... Your body is geared towards survival, this includes physical and emotional, since they are one in the same. An example would be: When you lift weights for the first time, you are incredibly sore. Why? You have asked your body to perform a task which it is not accustomed to. It says "Let's be better prepared so that it won't be so hard next time". So the response is to break down tissue and rebuild it with better ability to contract- this takes time, i.e. REST. Given enough time, the muscle can adapt to the outside stimulus. If we do not rest the muscles in between weight sessions, the muscle tissue has no time to repair and ability to perform goes downhill. This is common in endurance athletes who do not take enough time to recover between workouts or seasons of rest; because the cardiorespiratory system is not getting adequate rest,there is a steady decrease in performance, and it can take months to get back to normal daily functioning.
The same goes for any other cell in your body, including brain cells. Everyday we are exposed to thousands of stimuli; our own thoughts, sights, sounds, smells, emotions, conversations and so forth. Our brain cells are firing like crazy throughout the day. We need to rest our brains too. If we do not, we run the risk of existing as mediocre-functioning zombies.

4). Practical applications for you

First, ask yourself some of these questions:
 1. What are my own attitudes towards 'doing nothing'?; what thoughts or objections arose when reading this article?
 2. How much sleep per night do I usually get?
 3. What are my current practices for quieting my mind?
 4. Challenge your 'list of things to do'- do I HAVE to get this done? Embrace the feeling of something unfinished.

Here are some restful practices for you:

Note: this may be VERY difficult for you if you have never tried this or are not used to resting. Be patient with yourself and do not give up after a few minutes or few tries of this. I have found it can take several days to grow accustomed to relaxing your thought life.

1. Find a quiet comfortable place to lay down. Place a pillow under your knees for lower-back comfort if needed.
2. Place your hands on your belly, and bring your awareness to your breathing. Do not try to change anything about your breathing, just notice what you notice. 
3. Start at your nostrils with your observations. Imagine the air entering  your body. Then move down to the back of the throat, then the entrance of the lungs. What do you feel? 
If your mind begins to wander, be okay with that and come back to your breathing. There is no time limit for this, but try to do it until you get a nice big sigh from your body. 

Try getting into a habit of doing this several times a week, if not several times a day, and see how being intentional about resting will change the way you feel! 

How to Save Money, Improve Your Health, and Love the Environment

Here are some easy ways to save money, feel great and preserve the environment during your daily routine. Get ready to get your Rub a Dub Dub on! and put some cashola in your wallet. 

boars hair brush
2 qt bowl
Grapeseed, Sunflower or Almond Oil

One of my philosophies regarding healthy living is that everybody wins- many areas in our lives and others’ live have much to gain from healthy habits. This article will focus on how you can not only save money, but improve your health and wellness and manage environmental resources wisely. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to swing to the left, or stop taking showers, or become a tree hugging hippie.

Most Americans take showers daily. Upon researching this topic for several minutes, I could not find where the daily bathing routine was picked up. Perhaps just a cultural inability to accept body odor. In ancient times, bathing was more of a social and leisure activity than a hygenic one.
 So everyday, we turn the shower head (or bath faucet) on and do our thing...and pour money down the drain. The US Geological Survey states that average water output is 2.5 Gallons per minute for a shower. So a 2 minute shower is 5 gallons.....4 minute shower, 10 get the point.
 On an environmental level, this is very irresponsible. Some say we are having a international water crisis, some say that’s nonsense. Either way, I don’t advocate running around yelling that the sky is falling and that saving the earth is mankind’s number one priority. But I do believe that as humans we have a responsibility to use our resources wisely, and that it is not as hard as some make it out to be. We can complain about ‘the man’, and Congress, and the oil tycoons and other world problems, but we must remember that we are accountable to what IS in our hands. You can make a difference, AND reap several benefits. Here is how to do it one shower at a time:

  1. Dry brushing- This is a form of exfoliating, but it also increases circulation to your skin. The benefits of this are: glowing skin, removal of waste via the lymphatic system, feeling more alert, and SAVING MONEY due to not having to turn the water on so hot. It obviously takes energy to heat water, but with the increased circulation to your skin prior to a shower, your body perceives the water being hotter than it actually is. 

How: Buy a Boar’s Hair brush, or a dry sea sponge. Before your shower, use the bristols  or the sponge to gently but quickly brush your skin towards the center of your body. Start with your feet, moving up to the thighs. Then your hands. And then your back and glutes, and lastly your abdomen.

2. Bowl Shower- Here is the challenging part. Can you turn the water off while you shower? If you can fill the bowl up with hot water, and do a standing shower, you will be saving 140 gallons of water a week for an 8 minute shower. Think about it. Perhaps you don’t want to commit to this everyday, but only half the week. You are still saving a lot of money.
Not there yet? do a hot/cold shower. You will still be saving the energy to heat the water half the time, and you will be improving your circulation and overall wellbeing.

3. Self Massage w/Grapeseed oil- This doesn’t have a lot to do with water or money, but feeling awesome after your shower. Grapeseed oil is much cheaper and thinner than other body oils, and can be found at almost any supermarket. Use a few tablespoons and give yourself a quick circulatory massage after your shower.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post! Please post a comment on your thoughts and/or if you change any of your routines and how it goes. Also, if you enjoy this blog and know of any people who would like it, please share my blog with them :) 

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