Rest is essential to recovery and rehabilitation, so why is it a challenge and how can we learn to appreciate the benefits of slowing down!
When an old injury from my ballet days revisited and when I prescribed myself a week of absolute rest (no online / work-related activity) the inner critic was quick to respond, bringing up feelings of guilt for taking this time-off.
I think taking time for ourselves is one of the hardest things to do, especially when we have been brought up to believe productivity and being ‘busy’ is a sign of progress and success.
In times of anxiety or stress, tension builds up in my neck and shoulders. This is my habit.
My first intense experience of this was ten years ago before a ballet performance. I had a frozen shoulder and a rigid neck that made it impossible for me to pirouette (a ballet turn that requires a flick of the head).
I pushed to resolve this pain as quickly as possible but this only made matters worse.
The body has its own timing.
While we might say ‘I need this fixed by Monday’ – the body does not work this way. Anything that isn’t given the time to fully heal, returns, again and again, repeatedly asking to be recognised and resolved.
My study of mind-body modalities, somatic practices, and tension and trauma release has empowered me with the skills to understand the body as a whole, it’s language, and expression.
But that doesn’t mean I always listen!! And when I don’t I usually get some form of a wake-up call to shift me back into awareness!!
The hardest thing about rest, recovery and rehabilitation from an injury or illness is giving yourself the time to heal. Rest needs to be seen as the keystone of any effective recovery.
Here are five ways to commit to the rest, recovery, and rehabilitation time your body requires:
- Cancel, delegate and postpone all that is not vitally important. It sounds dramatic perhaps but a half-rest is not an effective rest. When we are doing a bit of work on the side we are diluting the effectiveness of our recovery. Everything can wait. It is better to genuinely rest for two weeks than work on and off over four weeks. You will not get the same benefit from your healing.
- Sleep as much as you can– this is necessary for the body to heal. Only when we sleep can our energy focus on renewal and repair.
- Look after your mind as much as your body– listen to meditations, learn how to improve the quality of your breath and practice mindfulness. When you are resting the tendency is to look for distraction – which is fine in moderation but try use the time to care for your mind as much as your body. They work in tandem. Creating space i the mind will enhance the healing of the body.
- Get as much fresh air. If you can’t walk perhaps you can join someone for a drive and sit with an open window next to the sea or a forest. Nature is our greatest antidote for stress. Almost all conditions originate from a root cause of stress.
- Keep your spirits high. A positive outlook is half the battle. Support yourself with good company, conversation, and inspiration. Use this time to observe your mindset and practice self-care and compassion. Our biggest challenge is often our inner critic, keeping a positive outlook will help you in those moments of doubt and frustration that come with any recovery and rehabilitation.
Challenges met with optimism, care and self-awareness offer great opportunities for learning.
Self-discovery and insight can be abundant when we slow down and take time to just be present in our body and our everyday experience. We can learn to appreciate the everyday details of our life that we could easily take for granted. We come to know ourselves better- the light and the shadow.
When you take the time for your rest, recovery, and rehabilitation- you will be gifted with greater insight and awareness than you ever had before.
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