I actually refer to this experience as stimulation addiction because when I ask a patient to set aside some time to really rest their mind and body, they almost always tell me that they feel restless without something going on.
If that feels true for you, then it is time to engage in getting some real rest.
If I was to define real rest it would be, “to lay horizontally for at least 20 minutes, not concerning yourself with the outside world, or to be engaged in any important mental and emotional experience, or to feel responsible for the past or the future”.
Sounds easy but, for most people, it actually takes some practice.
I encourage you to try this experiment.
If possible, as soon as you get home, connect with your family and then go lie down in a quiet room with a cool towel on your forehead (you may want to cover your eyes too) and relax deeply for at least 20 – 30 minutes.
Feel into your body and focus on your breath.
When you lie still for more than 20 minutes, the blood that is usually in your larger “fight and flight” muscles actually returns to your gut. This tells your metabolism to shift into the “rest and digest” response which in turn releases endorphins of relaxation and repair.
Most people come home wired from a busy day and then try to connect with their family while making supper and then cleaning up the mess and then getting everyone to bed and then trying to have some time to relax in the evening.
Usually, that relaxation actually looks like watching TV or surfing the net, which is really mostly a form of distraction.
The problem with being in a constant state of stimulation, especially when you are trying to improve your health, is that your nervous system is always in a state of being alert.
When your nervous system is always nervous, then you are using up your vitality faster than you are repairing it.
If you come home and get some real rest for 20 – 30 minutes, it is very likely that the rest of your evening is going to be a lot less stressful. It is also very likely that you will feel less drawn to a bottle of wine and an hour or two of media distraction before you go to bed.
It is amazing to see what happens for people who put some Real Rest into practice.
This practice is especially challenging and profoundly beneficial for single moms and dads. Depending on the age of your child/children, taking some time after hugs and giggles for some special ‘Single Parent Yoga’ can make the rest of your evening free of stress, conflict, and impatience.
With some real rest, you are more likely to make better meals because you will be more into cooking after getting some rest. You will experience a lot fewer family squabbles because you will be clear-headed and patient enough to keep the peace. You will probably use fewer stimulants to get through an evening of busy-ness and use fewer intoxicants to calm down before bed.
You will also sleep better and have more energy the next day.
Give it a try, it may change your life!