One side effect of being awakened, empowered, and alive, for me, has been not getting enough rest.
The symptom? A lack of energy so severe at times, it keeps me from achieving certain objectives.
Its effect became apparent when, during a recent yoga teaching training session, I could barely make it through a simple asana sequence.
I mentioned the fatigue I was experiencing to several practitioners and they all said the same thing:
“You need to get more rest!”
The unanimous command prompted me to take a moment, reflect on my daily activities, and consider whether the fatigue I was feeling was indeed related to their hypothesis.
After all, I do get to “sleep in” from time to time (and have been, especially, since the weather’s gotten cooler). Note: sleeping in, for me, means getting out of bed between 8 and 9am, so no need to judge or feel envious 🙂
So, how could I not be getting enough rest?
I began my investigation.
Interestingly, how well-rested we feel has little to do with how many hours of sleep we get.
In fact, I learned that resting well actually has more to do with our lifestyle as a whole, making rest an integral part of an effective self-care practice.
Great. Not only do we need to worry about how much sleep we’re getting, we now need to worry about the activities we engage in when we are not asleep!
To make it as stress-free as possible, I’ve listed some simple ways we can be more mindful about how we allow our bodies to rest.
1. Take an objective look at your schedule and determine how / when you expend the most energy. “Save the least for last.”
When I implemented this myself, I found measuring my activities throughout the day, and looking at the time at which I do them, to be critical.
Do you sit at a desk for hours straight, hit the gym at lunchtime, or run to appointments all over the city, like I do, all day long?
Conquering rigorous exercise and/or strenuous activities in the morning, either before breakfast, or between breakfast and lunch can help boost our energy levels for the day, then allow us to feel tired when feeling tired is appropriate (i.e. at bedtime).
Alternatively, if your job has you tied to a desk for many hours at a time, be sure to take frequent breaks (ideally every 20 minutes or so), to get your blood and energy moving and decrease the odds of feeling wired and/or restless at the end of the workday.
2. Make time to chillax.
When was the last time you stepped back from your daily routine to make time to do nothing?
Just as important as the activities mentioned above are the activities you engage in when your day is coming to a close.
Are you running five miles or doing a vigorous exercise routine? Or do you spend time binge-watching dramatic television series, action movies, or horror films (🙋🏻)?
These activities can provoke anxiety and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Further, if you’re looking at your phone or tablet and/or playing video games for hours before getting into bed (or after you’re in bed!), you are not giving your brain a chance to transition into relaxation mode.
What is it you’re doing in the time between your arrival home from work or school and the time you’re getting into bed?
The answer should be simple: winding down in preparation for a good night of rest!
3. Wind down.
Guys, I get it. Having to stay off Netflix, Facebook, and/or Instagram for longer than five minutes is a total drag. But if you could just turn off that phone, tablet, and/or TV as little as 60 minutes before your desired bedtime, it could potentially change your life.
You’d be surprised at what you could get done—or not get done—within that timeframe.
Listening to soothing music, reading a book, practicing yin or restorative yoga by candlelight, and/or meditating between dinner and bedtime can do wonders to prepare the body for ultimate healing rest.
Just be sure to extinguish any candles before falling asleep!
4. Make your bed yummy!
This may sound cliche, but research shows fresh clean sheets and a comfy mattress can actually entice us to rest more.
Husband and I recently invested in a Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid Performance Mattress, so I can attest to this first-hand!
On top of a quality mattress (pun intended), deliciously cool, silky bedding can be the icing on the cake (another one!). We love Coyuchi 100% organic cotton sheets.
These little upgrades literally make it harder for us to get out of bed in the morning. But the feeling of euphoria in the interim? Oh, so worth it!
5. Instead of counting sheep, count all the things you are grateful for.
Last, but never least, a strong practice of gratitude is essential when it comes to calming the mind and nervous system, relieving anxiety, and having a restful night of sleep.
Every night, after I put down the book, turn off the music, blow out the candle, and turn out the lights, I roll over, put my arm around my husband, Vincent, and thank God for all the blessings I have in my life, especially him.
Then, with a lifted spirit and a grateful heart, I fall fast asleep.
As for the cherry?
Try incorporating some (or all!) of these products or, as I like to call them, “little helpers” to make resting even more fun and fruitful:
Please share these tips, spread the love, and let me know your thoughts about this post (positive and negative!) in comments below.