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Why Rest is Essential to Your Health (and 5 Ways to Get More Rest Everyday)


In today's fast-paced work environment, it can be difficult to slow down and take a break. The modern-day conveniences of cell phones, social media and email cause many working adults to feel pressured to constantly stay connected and make themselves available 24/7. This mindset can not only be harmful to your work-life balance, but it can also have a negative effect on your health.


The demands of professional and family obligations often take priority over personal health and wellbeing for many adults. Even those who make a concentrated effort to eat right and exercise regularly are often guilty of getting only 4-5 hours of sleep per night. These people may be surprised to learn that sleep deprivation can be nearly as harmful to your health as a poor diet or lack of exercise.


Aside from feelings of tiredness and irritability, sleep deprivation can contribute to a wide range of other health issues including:

  • Brain fog and forgetfulness

  • Mental and emotional stress

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Weight gain and/or obesity

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart disease

  • Weakened immune system

  • Infertility

According to research completed by the National Sleep Foundation, 7-9 hours of sleep per night is considered appropriate for adults above the age of 18. Despite these suggestions, many people still struggle to hit this benchmark on a regular basis.


If you are guilty of neglecting your sleep and simply can't afford an extra 3-4 hours of sleep each day, don't worry. A full night of sleep is not the only way you can get your much-needed rest. While adequate sleep should still be a priority in your health regimen, there are other ways to integrate rest into your daily routine.


Here are a few ways to structure your life with rest in mind.


Turn off push notifications.

Many self-care experts may suggest to delete your social media apps completely because they spark negativity or cause feelings of comparison or self-doubt; however, this can be a rather extreme measure for some people--especially those who work with digital marketing or rely on these platforms for their businesses. Instead of totally disconnecting from these apps, try deactivating "push notifications" on your phone. "Push notifications" are the icons that pop up on your screen to alert you of an incoming message, email, or other activity on your apps. Disabling these notifications minimizes distractions and helps eliminate that feeling of needing to be constantly connected. Instead of reaching for your phone every time a notification pops up, pick 1-2 times per day to open up your apps and check these notifications manually. To disable your push notifications, go into your Settings --> Notifications --> Notification Styles. Once you arrive at this screen, click on each individual app and slide the "Allow Notifications" button to the "Off" position. You may want to keep a few of these apps active (such as Weather or Maps) for safety purposes.


Understand that "busy" does not always equal "productivity."

This statement applies to both professional and personal life. From a professional perspective, the 8-5 workday mentality is slowly becoming obsolete in some industries, and there is definitely something to be learned about this trend. The results of a 2016 study involving shorter work days suggests that people tend to be more productive with 6-hour workdays versus the typical 8-hour work day.


"Among the group studied, more than 50 percent of nurses reported having energy after work in a six-hour workday, compared to 20 percent for eight-hour workers; and six-hour workers said they were less stressed and more physically active and experienced less neck and back pain."

The explanation for these results? Under the 8-5 "clock-in, clock-out" format, employees are required to be at their jobs for a full 8 hours, regardless of how many items are on their to-do list for the day. Many employees who work under this format report "hitting a wall" or "losing interest" in their work by about 2:30-3:00pm. In some industries, this can greatly diminish productivity levels as tasks that should take 1-2 hours to complete are stretched out over 3-4+ hours in order for employees to "stay busy" throughout their workday.


Allowing employees to have a few extra hours per day to pursue other goals outside of work (such as physical activity or more sleep) has proven to increase quality of their work and reduce absenteeism and sick days.


While most people may not have control over their work schedules, these concepts can be applied to aspects of personal life as well. Does your calendar look like a collage of sticky notes? Do you feel overwhelmed with household chores, sporting events, social gatherings, and work? Have you forgotten what it's like to have a "lazy Sunday?" If this is you, pay attention to the next statement:

"You can do anything--but you cannot do everything."

Asking for help is a concept that many independent, go-getter personalities struggle with. Accepting the fact that it is okay to ask for help with certain tasks will instantly relieve self-imposed stress and open up time to take care of yourself.


Make a list of tasks that can be delegated to other people, then outsource some of your responsibilities. Even something as simple as picking up the dry cleaning or enrolling for grocery pick-up can give you a few extra minutes to devote to self-care each day.


Create work-rest balance by establishing "power hours."

The way you structure your daily schedule can have a profound effect on your rest and productivity. Learning to create "power hours" by batching tasks together in manageable pieces can help you accomplish more in less time.


Work to set a consistent schedule for must-do activities and implement brief times of rest in between these "power hours." Rest times can be filled with any activity that allows the mind and/or body to take a break from the stresses of professional life. Rest activities may include:

  • Meditation

  • Writing in a gratitude journal

  • Reading a book

  • Spending time with a pet

  • Taking a bath

  • Stretching

  • Catching up with a friend

  • Exercising

  • Learning a new skill or hobby

  • Completing a creative project

  • Having a healthy snack

  • Listening to music


Simply slow down.

The demands of personal and professional life leave many people constantly rushing from Point A to Point B--driving over the speed limit, eating their meals on the go, making phone calls while driving, and multi-tasking to the best of their ability. Sometimes, the simple act of slowing down is all it takes to give the mind and body a much-needed break from the hectic lifestyle pace we have all gotten too comfortable with.

Rewiring your brain to give yourself permission to slow down is one of the most influential things you can do for your mental, emotional, and physical wellness.

Implementing checkpoints of rest or relaxation throughout the day is a great way to practice a slower-paced lifestyle.

  • Set "deep breath" reminders on your phone

  • Drive 5mph below the speed limit

  • Roll down the windows and enjoy a cool breeze

  • Schedule a few extra minutes to complete a difficult task

  • Chew your food 30 times before swallowing


Disconnect before bedtime. Establish a consistent bedtime routine that does not involve screen time. Take 30-60 minutes before bedtime to unwind and relax your mind and body. Scrolling through social media and watching a movie on Netflix do not count as "relaxing" activities during this time. Allow your eyes to take a break from the harsh blue light, and fill your time with other relaxing activities, such as:

  • Taking a shower or bath

  • Reading a book

  • Journaling

  • Talking to your spouse/roommate/children about their day

  • Stretching

  • Praying

Creating consistent bedtime habits will not only relax the body and mind, but it will also improve the quality of your sleep.

Allowing your mind and body to rest periodically throughout the day can greatly improve your mental, physical, and emotional wellness.

Sources:

DeMers, J. (2017, May 25). Is a shorter workday actually better for businesses? Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294545

"How much sleep do we really need?" (n.d.). National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessive-sleepiness/support/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

"Why lack of sleep is bad for your health." (2018, May 30). Department of Health and Social Care. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/why-lack-of-sleep-is-bad-for-your-health/


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