There is a big difference between sleep and rest. Although all of us realise the importance of getting enough sleep, many of us don’t realise the importance of truly resting and recovering. Rest involves allowing our bodies and minds to be free from anxiety, worry, and stress. Recovery is similar but goes even further in that it involves recognising our body’s cues for when we need to stop and allow our tissues to reenergise and repair. Many of us are under the impression that we can go on forever like an energiser bunny with no rest or recovery at all. Unfortunately too often I see individuals running into trouble with burn-out as a result of this. Burn-out is literally a state where our bodies and minds are incapable of functioning well.
The problem with allowing ourselves to get to this state is that it can take even longer to recover from this. It is perhaps wiser to rest and recover appropriately along the way to avoid burn-out.
So what are the signs that we need to rest and recover?
- Fatigue despite adequate sleep
- Inability to sleep or restless sleep
- Muscle or joint pains
- Decreased stamina and physical performance
- Reduced concentration
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Anxiety and/or low mood
- Recurrent illnesses e.g. respiratory tract infections
- Stomach pains
Some ways to avoid the above and truly rest and recover may be:
- Designate an end point to your day i.e. a ‘clock-off’ time beyond which you don’t do any more work
- Create a routine in the evening for winding down. This might involve reading the paper, having a bath, or reading a book.
- Prioritise in your week time to do any activity you enjoy that isn’t work-related. This might be a sport, going shopping, or even just watching a movie.
- Recognise your own limits and when it is time to rest and recover
So to sum up, although we sometimes feel that we can keep going indefinitely this isn’t the case. We all have our own limits and true wisdom involves recognising that we all need to find time to rest and recover.