In today’s go-go-go world, everything has to be bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, and sexier than whatever we thought was big, strong, fast, smart, or sexy before. The media and society in general seem to tell us that we have to keep moving and pushing to be number one in everything and that if we stop to take a break we’re going to get fat, ugly, and stupid and then we’ll die. But if you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, all that pushing and constant movement can actually be detrimental—both physically and mentally. What we need to do is find time to stop, rest, and reflect. It is in those pauses that we will become stronger and better able to face the world head on.
The Key to Gaining Strength Through Rest
Any good athlete will tell you that the days that you rest are just as important to your training as they days that you work hard. The muscles in our bodies need time to recover from the stress we put on them during an intense workout at the gym or just running to work, school, taking the kids to soccer practice, and making dinner. When we work out, our bodies are not building muscle—they are tearing it down. Exercising is the act of physically pushing our bodies to their limit.
When we are done with a workout, our bodies need time to recover and rebuild the muscle that we’ve torn down during the workout. The amazing thing about our bodies is that when we tear down our muscles, given the right amount of rest and nutrients, our bodies build them back up even stronger than before. So, if you are trying to lose weight and be healthier, taking time off actually makes you stronger. If you push harder everyday, all the time, with no rest, then your body will stay in a constant state of weakness. Resting makes our bodies stronger.
Our minds work in a similar way to our muscles. In order to keep functioning at optimal levels, out minds need time to rest and reflect. That’s one of the reasons sleep is so important. As we sleep, we dream, and dreams are our minds’ way of shutting off external stimuli, evaluating our experiences through the day, making connections, and clearing out room for the next day’s experiences. If you’ve ever had the feeling of waking up and suddenly being able to solve a problem you couldn’t the night before, this is why.
As we rest our minds, we strengthen them and prepare them for the challenges that await them in the future. Similar to the way our bodies need rest, if you are constantly working your mind all day without any rest and little sleep, you will be in a constant state of mental fatigue, unable to focus on the things that really matter.
Find Time to Rest
At first it may seem that resting is counter intuitive to achieving your goals, but it is not. In fact, you’ll reach your goals easier and with more energy if you take the time to rest your body and mind properly. Take some time each day to turn off the TV and the radio, close down the computer, and sit in a comfortable chair reflecting on the day. These moments of stillness will help you focus your thoughts on the things that really matter to you. It may take some practice to clear your mind—especially if you’re used to living a frenetic lifestyle—but once you can learn to calm your thoughts and your body, you’ll be on the path to bringing more peace and more strength into your life.
*Gunter Jameson writes about several topics including travel, minimalism and online classes.*