Think rest and relaxation are just nice-to-haves? You may want to think again. R&R, whether it be rest and relaxation or rest and recreation, are essential for good health.
What does “rest” really mean?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines rest as a state of minimal function and freedom from activity or labor. It’s also defined as peace of mind.1 Rest means more than just sleep. Although sleep is important. Good sleep is the foundation upon which rest gets built. But rest also means managing stress and relaxing your body and mind.2
What does “good sleep” really mean?
Good sleep refers to both quality and quantity. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend adults 18-60 get seven or more hours of sleep a night.3 Now, what about quality? You can sleep the recommended amount and still wake up tired. This is a sign you’ve not had good sleep quality. Poor sleep can be a result of snoring and waking up several times a night.3
Get good sleep to lower your risk for health issues
Poor sleep can put you at increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, poor mental health and even early death. Even just one night of poor sleep can leave you in a bad mood and hinder your productivity at work, school or home. Plus, it can leave you at risk for accidents.3
Find out how to get better sleep.
Don’t save the rest for last
Our busy world may make it seem you have to be running all the time feeling pressure to always be “on.” You may feel that doing is being. Or you may feel you will fall behind in work or in relationships if you slow down. All of these thoughts can cause rest and relaxation to fall at the bottom of the to-do list.
The irony is that when we put rest and relaxation first, we become even more productive. Both replenish our physical, emotional and mental states. Getting enough rest helps support healthy metabolism. And taking a nap can boost alertness and improve creativity and physical performance.4
Make rest part of your workout too
Did you ever consider that rest and relaxation should be part of your workout routine? It’s true. Sound workout routines call for rest and recovery. Rest is just as important as weight or resistance training for building muscle. Resting between workouts can help you prevent injury and overuse. It’s important to give your body the time it needs to refuel, recharge and restore. In fact, it’s recommended by the National Academy of Sports Medicine not to work the same muscle group again without waiting 48-72 hours.2
So, where does relaxation come into play?
Unwinding and enjoying life are part of good physical and mental health and well-being. Relaxation can look like what you do to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. If you’re tense and stressed out often, you’re probably not getting enough relaxation.5
Try these tips to make R&R a priority
Block out time for rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Give your brain a break to boost your mood and improve longer term productivity.5
- Take movement breaks. Help your body feel good and reduce stress and mental fatigue.5
- Practice self-care. Pay attention to your own well-being. Maybe it’s time to treat yourself to a book, movie or massage?
- Step away from your usual routine. This helps regain perspective about what is important to you.5
- Do something you enjoy every day. Even if only for a few minutes!
- Take vacations and personal days. Companies give PTO days for a reason. We need them!
- Establish a bedtime routine. Try to make going to bed at the same time each night a habit.4 Think of being on time for sleep each night as important as being on time for work each day. Because it is.
Rest well, live well
What role do rest and relaxation play in your life? Do they sound like luxuries? If so, we hope you reconsider and make them a priority. And we’re always here to help. Talk with one of our therapists to find more specific ways to fit R&R into your life.
Also, make sure you have access to all the care you need to live a well-balanced life.
Learn 7 ways to get the best sleep of your life.
Published January 3, 2024