How to tell if you need more rest


Late nights, early mornings, full days, high stress, back-to-back engagements, relationship tensions, dissatisfaction with your work, your home, your partner...all of these create unrest in our lives. 

Or, to say it another way, all create stress.

And for every moment or phase of stress in our lives, we need to recover. We need to turn off the stress response, moving back into the "rest & digest" response. 

Humans have a huge capacity to handle stress, until their bodies become so chronically stressed - that means, our stress response is chronically on and we're not spending enough time in "rest & digest" - that any further stress that arrives causes serious problems.

Of course, we all know the connection of an acute moment of stress and heart attacks. These heart attacks aren't brought on by the precipitating event itself, but by adding that precipitating event to an already stress-overloaded body.

But most of us are experiencing less obvious stress-overload symptoms. 

How many of these sound familiar?

  • Needing coffee to get going, or to make it through the day?
  • Continually falling ill with colds, flu or other respiratory illnesses, and getting them more severely than others seem to?
  • Pain or chronic condition flares?
  • Digestive issues?
  • Hormonal & reproductive issues?
  • Rapid increase in the signs of ageing on our face?
  • Falling asleep easily during the day?
  • Struggling to fall asleep in the night?
  • Eating or craving comfort or high calorie foods?
  • Guilt or worry when we try to slow down, take time off, put our feet up (specially if others aren't doing the same)?
  • Inability to sit still and enjoy quiet, peaceful present-moment awareness?
  • Filling days off and weekends with activity, avoiding time with "nothing to do"?

These are all signs that our stress response is firing, and we're not giving our body enough time in "rest & digest" or relaxation response.

How much time do we need in "rest & digest" or relaxation response?

Most of our time. 

Seriously, we should be in this relaxed state most of the time. Our bodies are only built to endure the stress response for short periods of time.

And most of our lives are lived with low level (or sometimes more than low level) stress response activation. 

So taking time to rest is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. It allows our body to digest food (which helps us stay healthy by drawing the nutrients we need from our food) and helps our immune system repair both daily wear-and-tear and more serious physical issues. It allows our muscles to release tension, helping to alleveate skeletal & muscular chronic issues. And it helps our spirit to connect with deeper meaning & purpose, connect with nature & our part in it, and to those we love - more meaningful relationships.

How to tell if you need more rest

If you're experiencing any of the issues in the dot point list above - you need more rest.
If you're not experiencing the benefits of a rested body (as outlined in the paragraph above) - you need more rest.
If you're in doubt...I'll wager you need more rest.

And as you can't really have too much rest, it's always better to err on the side of getting more of it.

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