Hello Again! I know that the month of August can be a turbulent time for many and know that you are not alone in those transitions. I wanted to give you 5 Tips for Optimizing Rest, but first a story…
A little over two weeks ago my right ankle started hurting. A lot. In the space of one or two days I could not walk. I hobbled here and there in the confines of my house and tried to stay as immobile as possible. I even resorted to crawling to the bathroom when I had to get up in the middle of the night.
Mind you, I should have known. This has happened before. Years ago, back when my partner and I were living in Boston, I quit a very well paying job to work full-time in a running shoe store. My body rebelled. I came down with many months’ battle with plantar fasciitis.
This case was not much different.
In late June, I quit a part-time job and hd been anxious about how I was going to fill the income gap. What I didn’t realize was just how stressful this job was until the transition over the month of July unrolled. Just like in Boston, once again, my body rebelled; this time with severe ankle pain that had no precipitating cause.
As soon as I could gather the mental strength, I started to implement “Rest.” This is one Pillar of my Signature Methodology: SOAR – Sustenance, Optimal Mind, Activity, Rest.
Now, by rest, I don’t mean doing nothing. Rest is relative to what you do already. For example, my meditation practice had recently dwindled to a mere 5 minutes every morning, so for me, rest in that area was to actually augment meditation to 10 minutes – at a minimum. And while running and even walking were out of the picture, I could still get movement through a more active rest – in the form of pool running – to which I committed on a daily basis.
Our bodies are smart. When we are overly “wired”, the sympathetic nervous system stays turned on, which leads to chronic stress, triggering the release of cortisol, which can (when it’s chronic) have negative effects on our mental and physical health. While stress is actually a good thing, too much of any good thing is not. So by using active rest, I began to down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system and up-regulate the parasympathetic nervous system. And that is when the healing really happens.
Outlined below are 5 Habits that you can use to help you slow down. Keep in mind that Rest is relative.
- Meditation – If the thought of sitting still for extended periods of time scares you, maybe you can reframe and think about meditation as a mindful pause every so often. For instance, after you send an email, take one breath to the count of 5 in and then exhale to the count of 5. This attention to what you are doing and feeling is the foundation of meditation. Starting a meditation practice really is as easy as that. And research shows that even a single bout of meditation or yoga can reduce cortisol levels. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35898594/)
- Sleep – One of the most important aspects of any sort of recovery is sleep, and yet most of us probably skimp of the amount and quality of sleep each night. In order for the body to really repair itself deep sleep is most important. If you don’t know the percentage of REM, light and deep sleep you are getting, I highly recommend investing in a sleep tracker. Personally I use an Oura ring, but there are other trackers out there to get a handle on these numbers. Instead of doing a complete overhaul on your sleep routine, I recommend starting with small steps, such as going to bed 10 minutes earlier each night and then adjusting according to what you are noticing.
- Slowing Down – Activity – Chronically pushing yourself is a recipe for disaster. I learned way too late that rest days are just as important – if not more so – as training days. For you, rest might be an easy walk, or yoga instead of another aerobic activity. For me, slowing down was water activity and literally rolling on the floor as much as possible.
- Gratitude – Practicing gratitude can enhance a positive outlook on everything. I use the app Stoic which has daily prompts to help me set a daily focus and list three things for which I am grateful. As hard as it might be sometimes, it always makes me feel human again as it shifts me from my “victim” mindset to that of a “creator.”
- Fasting – Just as much as the fascia, tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones of the body need to rest, so too does the digestive system. Fasting is one way to take the ease off of the internal organs and allow for some deep rest. Note that fasting is not for everyone and should only be done with a doctor’s approval if you have chronic conditions or are on medications. I’ll be running a Fasting Accelerator from Oct. 22 – Nov. 12 designed as an introduction to Intermittent Fasting for the fasting curious. (https://go.juliebergfeld.com)
You may not know where to start and that’s where I can help. I offer group and one-on-one coaching to help you optimize the skin that you are in through my SOAR (Sustenance, Optimal Mind, Activity, Rest) methodology.
–> Oh, and one more thing if you’ve made it this far… let me know what most resonated with you from this note and if you want to schedule a 30-minute zoom, you can do that here: https://calendly.com/juliebergfeld/30-min-discovery