The Importance of Rest

Confession #1: I haven’t worked out in 6 days.

Now for the irregular exerciser, that might not seem like ANYTHING. But for the person who works their way up to 6-7 days a week like I had, it seems like an eternity. Between being sick, traveling, lack of sleep, and a busy work schedule, any spare time I had this past week, I felt compelled to simply go to sleep.

Confession #2: I’m not worried about it. I’m not beating myself up or frustrated that I might lose some “tone” or gain a pound; I’ve had to learn not to idolize my abilities, my productivity, or even the fun that I have while working out. I trust myself enough to know that I will pick it right back up at the end of the week with even more energy and better athletic performance because of my little break.

I do find peace and “rest” in my normal daily workouts because for me, it’s all dedicated to my Creator. However, there are times when your body just needs to REALLY physically REST. This is GOOD, and JUST as important as exercising, as long as it is in right proportion and we are not being slothful. Life will always be busy, so we have to weigh when to push through our excuses, and when to listen to our bodies cry for rest.

My high school mentor used to tell me when faced with a problem, “sometimes the holiest thing you can do is take a nap.”  I used to laugh because originally I thought it was a justification for a nice mid-day sleep. The older I get, the more I realize the deep deep truth in resting in the Lord, not worrying, and knowing He will take care of you, no matter what craziness is going on in your life or what obligations you have pulling you around.

How often do we treat EVEN Sunday as just another day to get things done and wear ourselves out? I was reminded again this past Sunday about keeping the Sabbath day Holy, just as God rested at the end of the creation story. The congregation was encouraged not to do any projects for work or home, but just to be present with family, and enjoy the day we’ve been given to unwind in God’s goodness. So Sunday I napped for nearly two hours!! I admitted I wasn’t a super hero for one day. I know napping isn’t always possible for everyone, but other ways I “rest” include: journaling, reading, snuggling, singing in the car really loud, having a deep conversation with my spouse, praying in silence, not posting on social media or the blog, or just going to bed a little earlier.

God created rest to provide restoration for our souls. Don’t feel guilty when you feel a calling in your heart to step away from the world for a short time and just breathe and trust. There will always be something to get done, but the world won’t end if you don’t do it right away. (unless you’re the President or something, in which case, bad career choice haha)

Sleep is vital for our mood, our metabolism, our immune system, our cardiovascular health, our brain health, our sanity, and so much more! In my opinion, it is one of the most overlooked aspects of healthy living, and the one aspect that takes the most discipline for people because it involves giving up instead of checking off.

We are over worked. Over stimulated. Over burdened. Cast it all on Him because He cares for you.

Go to sleep trusting that when we are asleep, our great God is awake.

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Why am I so sluggish?!

You know the look on many days of the week, when co-workers come into the office half-asleep, or just can’t seem to get up enough energy to think clearly for a meeting.

We’ve all been there ourselves and it’s NOT fun.

Sometimes our long-term tiredness is a deeper issue, like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Depression or a thyroid condition, but often times, it is simply a matter of our lifestyle choices. Take inventory of this list if you’ve been feeling sluggish to see what you might be able to get back in balance! You’ve gotta choose what’s best for the one body you’ve been given!

Sleep. DUH. The obvious #1. You’re not getting enough sleep! (7-9 hours) OR you’re inconsistent about it. 5 hours during the week and 15 hours a night over the weekend isn’t going to cut it. A crazy sleep schedule makes your body have a “hangover effect”. Try to get to bed within an hour of the same time each night, and not to look at your phone an hour before bed to keep your brain from feeling over stimulated. There is no shame in prioritizing your sleep when possible!

Your Nutrition is off. Lots of sugar spiking your blood-sugar? Simple Carbs not filling you up? Junk food putting you in a food-coma? Late night eating not giving your body enough time to digest during the night? Vitamin D or Iron deficiencies? These can ALL leave you feeling down. Try to eat veggies with at least 2 meals a day and not after 8pm to solve this. Your body will thank you for the nutrients, fiber, and protein to keep you energized. Think green: peas, spinach, brussel sprouts, and broccoli.

Your Liver is overworked from removing junk food toxic chemicals because of your diet. It’s totally singing “You’re toxic, I’m slippin’ under…” Lack of energy, headaches, brain fog, can all be a result of the weighed-down CEO of your body: your liver. Don’t be so hard on it! Looking for an awesome way to DETOX for a fresh start? Check out this safe and effective 3 day refresh to kick start and clean up!

Water Water Water. Dehydration makes your blood volume thinner, so your heart has to work harder making you feel more tired. Think about drinking HALF your body weight in ounces! Have a water bottle with you all day. If nothing else, maybe having to pee will get you to stand up and walk around 🙂

Sitting all day looking at a computer screen can wipe you out. Then all we feeling like doing is coming home and sitting some more. This is totally my downfall! I know it’s awkward or inconvenient but for every 30 minutes you sit, you need to move for 5 minutes to get your heart rate up. My personal favorite is walking to the bathroom and doing some squats in there. Stand at your desk for 10 minutes. Turn the brightness on your screen WAY down to reduce eye strain that makes you tired.

Move More. Also maybe an obvious one! Exercise is proven to significantly improve the sleep of people who have insomnia. It improves circulation and oxygen flow to help you sleep deeper, and relieves stress to help you fall asleep faster. BUT, like anything, too much of a good thing can ruin it. If you’re exercising TOO MUCH, like really long hard cardio sessions every day wearing yourself out, your body may be depleted of minerals and/or calories and be in a constant state of inflammation that makes you feel sluggish. Proper balance is everything!

You’re overdoing it. We can’t all be superheroes. We can’t be ALL things in the same season of life. I hate to break it to you, but there are only 24 hours in a day…If you’re over worked, over socialized, over tasked, and under taken care of, you’ll break. It’s called burning the candle at both ends. The goal is to take time, even if it’s 5 minutes every morning, to FIND REST and PEACE. The world won’t fall apart if you’re not always in control. YES we have responsibilities, but we cannot fully accomplish them if we are functioning at 50% all the time. It’s okay to scale back, or even take a break just for a time. In this busy world, the art of saying “NO” is really helpful in getting a good night’s rest.

Rest