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Renewal, Rest and Relaxation
by Dr. Mark Pitstick
Resting, recharging and relaxing are integral parts of holistic health. Feeling great is precious and sufficient renewal is a big key to making that possible.
An old Irish proverb stated, ‘The beginning of health is sleep.’ As always, it’s a question of balance. Some people don’t get enough rest while others literally sleep their lives away. We each have different sleep requirements; for example, Thomas Edison required only 4 hours per night while Albert Einstein preferred 10 or more. Identify how much sleep you need to feel your best and regularly get that amount.
Rest is one of the most underestimated and powerful healing tools at our disposal. Extra sleep and downtime allow the body to make adaptations and work internal miracles. Early physicians often prescribed complete bed rest because it helped so many maladies. When ill, animals often ‘hole up’ and rest completely, reappearing only when they have recovered.
Listen to your inner wisdom and take time for extra renewal when you just don’t feel right. Lighten your schedule, go to bed earlier, cancel social engagements, and get a nap. Extra rest can mean the difference between just feeling under the weather for a day versus getting a full-blown illness.
When faced with physical or emotional challenges, the body conserves its energy for healing and survival. It’s natural to feel tired when you are excessively stressed or fighting off an illness. Your body is telling you to rest and lay low for awhile. I sometimes hear patients complain that they have been tired lately, but “are too busy to slow down.”
Some ignore these messages and keep pushing themselves, perhaps with the aid of stimulants like nicotine, or excess caffeine and sugar. Then a severe cold or flu—with unpleasant symptoms and lost work time—makes them take a break.
Get a life! Rest, vacation, leisure, play, and “creative laziness” are important aspects of life. Learn to say “no” to the constant requests and demands on your time. Carve out quality time for you and your family; everyone will be happier and healthier for it. Regularly enjoy hobbies and leisure activities. If possible, consider a four day work week and take a three day weekend at least once each month.
Take your full allotment of vacation days and, when you do take a vacation, really kick back and enjoy it. Leave the extra work and laptop computer at home. You’ll be more efficient, happy, and prosperous by taking time for rejuvenation.
Bottom line? Get the rest and relaxation you need so you can feel, look, and be your best while participating fully in all of life’s adventures.
Healthy Sleep Habits
- Open your bedroom window, just a crack during cold weather, to ensure adequate oxygen and fresh air while sleeping. This is especially important if your heating and cooling system recirculates inside air instead of drawing in fresh air.
- Be asleep by 10:30 pm, even 9 pm when needing extra rest. ‘Midnight’ was so named because it was the middle of the night for our ancestors. The saying ‘early to bed, early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy, and wise’ is wise counsel. Natural health experts say the hours of sleep before midnight are the most beneficial. Staying up late is also counter-productive because it often results in excessive TV viewing, computer or videogame use, and late night eating.
- Take a daily nap, a ‘silver bullet’ that confers many benefits for relatively little time required. Just a 15 - 30 minute nap provides deep rest and releases accumulated stress.
- Listen to your body about how much sleep you need and realize that amount may change as you age or experience more or less stress. You should awaken just before your alarm if you’re sufficiently rested.
Read Radiant Wellness by Dr. Mark Pitstick for much more
detailed information and strategies about rest, relaxation and renewal!