Unless you live somewhere on a deserted island many of you are leading pretty fast paced lives, juggling all the demands we place on ourselves on a daily basis. We give priority to our careers, family, social life, personal habits, and hobbies but how much importance to we place on resting our bodies and minds each day? What if I told you that taking an afternoon nap would help you meet a project deadline or getting a good night’s sleep could accelerate your fat loss? It seems counterintuitive that slowing down could actually accelerate results but this is often the key to balanced health in your body and mind.
Countless studies have proven the link between lack of sleep and less than optimal function of the body and mind. Research has shown that fat loss is greatly reduced in people who get less sleep while those who have fuel burning metabolisms and are most productive in their day are regular nappers and have consistent sleep routines. I could get all ‘sciencey’ on you here, it is my tendency to dig all the interesting details, but if you want to see the overwhelming evidence just take a ‘google’ at the ‘effects of sleep deprivation’ and you will be napping in no time!
So on to the good stuff. How do we improve the health or our bodies and mind with some restful practices? Here are some of the things that I have incorporated into my life and some that I have not yet got in the habit of doing but it’s on the horizon!
Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, even on your days off
This has made a huge difference for me. Although it is somewhat difficult at times to avoid my night owl tendencies getting into this routine has my body craving rest at between 9-10pm and waking anywhere from 5-7am, sometimes even without an alarm, I stress the word SOMETIMES…there are still those days when I fight with the snooze button but I am definitely noticing an improvement.
Wind Down Before Bed
Take time to unwind from the day’s events and prepare yourself for rest. Most of us have an established morning routine but find that by the end of the day collapsing into bed is about as close to routine as it gets. Engaging in activities that are less stimulating to the body and mind is a good habit to get into before bedtime. Try taking a hot bath or shower, using aromatherapy oils, listening to relaxing music, reading something light, or watching a funny episode of your favorite show at the end of the day to get the body ready for sleep. Watching an episode of Friends is by far my favorite thing to do before bed, no matter how many times I watch a given episode it always makes me laugh out loud and puts me in a perfect state of joy which is the best way to enter sleep. Turn down the outside noise and tune into things that make you feel relaxed and peaceful. Before bed is not a good time to watch the news, work on something stressful, or try to get just one more thing done before the end of the day. Avoid anything that agitates the mind or makes your feel negative emotions.
Make your sleep environment an oasis of rest
Turn your bedroom into a oasis of relaxation, make it the most beautiful and inviting room in your home. Avoid bringing anything stressful with you into the bedroom, make it a sanctuary of rest. Vow to leave all your cares at the doorway when you enter and engage only in thoughts that feel good when you are in there. If you are someone whose mind is always racing journaling before bed is a great exercise to leave your thoughts of the day behind. Our minds are often bombarded with thinking of things we need to do and new ideas that we may have. The fear is that if we don’t constantly go over ‘it’ in our heads we will forget. If you leave your thoughts on paper at the end of the day then you don’t have to worry about forgetting that brilliant new idea to work on tomorrow and you mind can simply rest.
Take a nap
This is my favorite, although I do not do it as often as I would like! Napping during the day is a wonderful way to refresh your body and mind. I know most of you are thinking, who has time for napping during the day??? All you need is 15-20 minutes to get yourself going again, anything more than that is not really necessary and could keep you up at night. Start by doing this regularly on your days off, instead of reaching for a coffee schedule a nap when you start to feel a little sluggish and retreat for a 15-20 minute rejuvenation.
Rest without sleep
Napping may not fit into everyone’s schedule and lifestyle but there are other ways to simulate the beneficial effects of napping. Whenever you are feeling a little ‘foggy’ or tired during your day take a few minutes clear your mind and tune into your body. Move away from whatever you are doing and engage in some simple meditative techniques. Taking a few deep breaths to ground yourself and then taking time to observe your thoughts and what’s happening for your body will make a huge difference in the productivity of your day. If you find time for a longer meditation this is extremely beneficial but any amount of focussed relaxation will benefit you greatly. Taking time out in my work day to recharge is one habit that I have not fully adopted just yet, this is easy for me when I have days off but incorporating this into my work day is something I am looking forward to! Spend sometime everyday intentionally drifting off to wherever you would like to be and then gently come back to the task at hand and see where it takes you.
When you take time to rest your body and mind you will feel more balanced, your health will improve, and you will have the energy needed to achieve any goal your mind can conceive.
Wishing you a fresh, nutritious, delicious, and relaxing day!
Michelle Waithe, Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel