Rest was something that I never used to prioritise. I thought that every day I needed to accomplish something. Being a morning person I like to accomplish most things as soon as I get up. I felt that if it didn’t get done in the morning than it wouldn’t get done. This meant waking up so many Saturdays and Sundays at the crack of dawn, cup of hot coffee in hand, to accomplish something that really could have waited.
I have been undergoing quite a bit of change in the last month in my work life. I am very fortunate that at my new job that I have access to an incredible naturopath. As soon as I met her I knew that I was finally ready to get some answers about some ongoing health issues I have been having.
My health has never really been a top priority, however, I have learnt just how essential it is for myself and for those around me that I do take care of myself. I was really nervous at my first consultation. I listened to her and did all the relevant tests. There were some things that she found that didn’t really surprise me, however, she did uncover another issue that I didn’t even realise was a problem.
She asked me if I sleep well. I responded saying that I sleep "well enough". She asked me if I wake up with lots of energy. I said that “I don’t wake up beaming with energy but I have enough motivation to drag myself out of bed and get the day started.” This concerned her. She was so surprised on how little sleep and rest I can function on. She was concerned at the time it takes for me to fall asleep and how stimulated I remain before bed. In conjunction with some supplements, she suggested that I reduce my intake of coffee. Now I love coffee and that advice kind of hurt my heart. My academic function is fuelled by caffeine.
Before I saw her I was averaging about three or four a day. In an effort to stay alert in early classes I was having a double espresso before leaving the house. Cutting out coffee was never going to be an easy feat.
She suggested that I don’t quit cold turkey (thank God) and instead alternate between having one on one day and two the following. As you can imagine I was having some major withdrawals. Bless the people that tolerated me early last week. I literally spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with a throbbing headache. I did, however, notice that I was more rested at night time (surprise surprise).
Last week was also the first week that I actually felt things coming together for me at work. The week before I hadn’t been sleeping because every night I was stressed that I wasn’t working to the appropriate standard. I found that when I actually relaxed and relied on my natural energy (not a double shot) that I knew more than I thought. I accepted that starting a new job isn’t easy and needed to give myself some grace to settle in.
I was actually quite shocked how quickly my body started reacting to a lower intake of coffee. Obviously at first it was a battle. Although I have found now that after about 10 days I am actually feeling so much better.
Yesterday I did something quite strange for me. I allowed myself to sleep in and stay in bed until 10 o’clock. This is unheard of. I woke up a couple of times during the course of the morning but actually allowed myself to roll over and get a bit more sleep.
I have always admired my dad. He is an incredibly hard worker. On Sunday mornings, however, I always see him stay in bed and have a rest. It used to puzzle me. I would think to myself “how on earth does he have time to relax, I am thinking of about fifty things I could be doing right now.” Then it hit me, he is recharging. Humans are not machines. We are not designed to go all the time. We actually do need to turn off and relax regularly.
Australian Nutritionist and Author, Jessica Sepel, shares the importance of rest all the time on her blog and Instagram. She tells of the hormonal imbalance, digestive malfunctions and stress that comes to our bodies if we don’t allow them to rest.
"Mentally, you are internalizing a lot of negativity and losing touch with your own body, which will result in emotional turmoil. You’ll end up with the worst version of your own self – stressed, tired, mentally slow and physically vulnerable." – Jessica Sepel, Nutritionist and Author.
I find that when I sit and rest with my family at night (as oppose to typing on my laptop until lights out) that I am more productive the next day and have stronger relationships with those around me. My mood is stable. I have more energy to exercise. I have more love to give to my loved ones and I find it easier to tap into my inner child.
On Sunday afternoon I just sat on the couch and stepped away from uni and the blog. I watched a movie with my whole family (somehow we all managed to be home). I laughed with family and just let my body rest. I don’t feel guilty about it. I am helping myself. I am giving myself the best possible start to the week.
We can try and go go go forever but one day your body is going to tell you its had enough. Listen to your body and what it wants you to do. Maybe it needs some sleep, maybe it just wants to relax. It is okay to slow down sometimes. It is not laziness it is an act of self-care and self-love. Take a moment to plan sometime this week when you just slow down, believe me your body will thank you for it.
“Our society puts too much emphasis on constant ‘doing’, without recognizing that in the recharging space you can come back to work, duties and relationships in a more productive, enhanced way. Whether you are a mom, a college kid or trying to make your way in the corporate, art, (fill in the blank) world, you may come to a time when you just push and push and push and then leave yourself stressed out and incapable of being the best you can be.” - Celebrity Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder.