Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rest on Purpose for Greater Effectiveness

Rev. Solomon Reyes said it best when he wrote, “The lazy makes rest an excuse not to work, but the diligent see rest as means to be more productive. The lazy see rest as the end of work, but the diligent see rest as a necessity to attain greater fruitfulness.” In other words, rest on purpose for greater effectiveness.

The Benefits of Rest

One of the most prominent and interesting studies on resting comes from Harvard medical professor, Dr. Herbert Benson. He saw the benefits of resting through meditation, and decided to do further research on how relaxing can help the body and mind. Through his research, he noticed several beneficial changes taking place, and said, “The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress, and is the opposite of the fight or flight response.”

When your mind rests, you can return to work with clear thoughts. With a calmed mind, you’ll be able to refocus on your tasks and create progress. Rest will also leave you in a state of peace with far less anxiety which can make you much happier and less agitated, sad, or overwhelmed.

Amazingly, Dr. Benson's team also discovered anti-inflammatory responses during rest that reduced stress and relaxed muscles. The body doesn’t have to take in as much oxygen during rest because there is no hyperventilating due to stress, blood pressure is much lower, and muscles relax.

Consequences of Not Taking a Breather

Per Dr. Benson, the immediate side effects of not resting include, “Irritability, memory loss, drowsiness, trouble concentrating, blurry vision, impaired judgement… and reduced glucose metabolism.” It becomes increasingly difficult to do jobs correctly if you try to work straight through and not take breaks.

The long-term problems associated with overworking are even worse, and include, “Raised blood pressure, suppressed immune system, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, infertility, and a sped-up aging process. Long-term stress can rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.”

6 Ways to Rest Productively 

Author Tony Schwartz recommends active or passive renewal (rest) after every 90 minutes of focused and productive work. Here are 6 ways you can rest productively.

Meditation: Taking some deep breaths while you close your eyes can be a quick and simple recovery method. You will slow your heart rate and clear your mind. Maybe count back from 10 slowly, or let your mind drift somewhere else to reach a state of calmness. For a simple, guided meditation, click here.

Naps: Naps may seem like the ultimate, lazy way to get out of working, but they’re one of the healthiest things that you can do for yourself. When you take a nap, you increase your metabolism, retain more information, and get an extra boost to recharge your battery or make up for lost sleep.

Music: Several studies have shown that listening to music can be beneficial to your overall psychological health. A good tune can change your mood and take your mind away from something that is worrying you. 

Read: Excerpts from a text or poem can take you to a positive state of mind. Books and stories let your imagination flow. Non-fiction can be a great way to increase literacy, and get your mind of your daily tasks.

Journal: A journal can be a way to get troubling thoughts out of your mind, and off your chest. You can vent about anything, and clear your worries by getting your concerns out of your head onto paper.

Exercise: Any form of movement that gets your blood pumping will release endorphins and improve mental clarity. Try going for a walk or jog over your lunch break, or take a few minutes to do body-weight exercises between classes. 

Not taking breaks from the tension that our daily activities bring can lead to some major problems, both now and down the road. To avoid the consequences of stress and fatigue, you’ve got to take a break! Create a relaxation strategy and get the recovery you need to be productive, happy, and healthy.