Saturday, April 8, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 5- rest is no longer the dark side

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I have always been a mega-driver, one of those impact drills or wrenches that goes full-throttle all day, every day. Once my feet hit the ground, it's hard to stop me. Or so it used to be. 

A few years ago, I was battling full blown Lyme disease. My fatigue was so loud at one point, I would have to rest after my morning shower. My joints ached terribly, I had massive fog brain, and no stamina. All I wanted to do was sleep and eat broth. The antibiotics took a toll on my body for a number of months and some days would leave me in a puddle of tears fearing that I would never get back to my full life and spunky self. My calendar was stripped down to bare bones and a lot of white space. I worked as much as I could, was super grateful for paid sick time, and slowly started to surrender to this idea that rest was one of the biggest factors in getting better.

Although battling Lyme sucked, I am blessed beyond measure to have healed. Millions of people live with the chronic disease which can be debilitating, disabling, and so often wreaks havoc on personal relationships, finances, livelihoods, and dreams. Living with Lyme disease taught me about how to live side by side with rest and befriend the notion of doing nothing.

Rest does a number of things for us.

There is a re-calibration of our nervous system. We live most of our days in fight/flight/freeze mode. Reacting in the moment. Somewhat running life on autopilot. Our parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the response system to the stimuli in front of us and that is a big source of stress for most of us. Rest without stimulation (NOT sleep), helps us access out parasympathetic nervous system which is the juicy part of ourselves that allows that relaxation response to take place. A high functioning, low stressed nervous system = better life, better work, better sleep, better sex, better everything.

Rest encourages reflection. Because we live at the pace we do, we seldom have the time and space carved out in our lives for reflection. Reflection is a key piece in the experiential learning cycle. It allows us to examine our actions, ourselves, and also contemplate if our choices align with our values.

Rest just feels good. When we build in rest (i.e. choosing tea time & picking our feet up over dishes and e-mail), something happens to our happiness. I am not a scientist, but I read a crapload of self-help, spiritual growth, and self-actualization books and they all say that active self-care and kindness makes us happier people. Think: not the angry frankenbear that shows up at the dinner table every night or at the office every day. Sure, life still has it's challenges, but when we actively take care of ourselves, whether for 10 minutes or a weekend retreat away or somewhere in between, we are getting those neurons firing and creating new neural pathways that say "Heck yes! Rest feels A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!"

So my Rx to you is this: go rest. I promise it will change your life.

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