BLOG - The Difference Between Intentional and Inevitable R&R is the Secret to Living Powerfully
The Difference Between Intentional and Inevitable R&R is the Secret to Living Powerfully
I’m sure you’ve heard it before… rest and rejuvenation are essential components of a healthy, vibrant life.
It’s also true that ultimately, even if we have very busy lives, somehow our bodies will find a way to rest. To keep going, they have to.
But there’s a powerful difference between inevitable and intentional R&R.
Inevitable R&R? Yep, I know you’ve experienced it… those times when it feels like all you can do is collapse on your couch because you’ve been on the go for two weeks straight. Or those pauses you “allow” yourself because you don’t have much choice – like when your immune system says “I’ve had enough” and makes you stay home with a cold to rest. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, finding yourself stuck in that cycle of being constantly on the go until your body gives you no choice but to rest doesn’t usually leave you feeling powerful and loving your life.
On the other hand, intentionally creating opportunities for down time and rejuvenation – honoring and drinking in the re-energizing value they offer, can transform your life.
Why Intentional is Key…
Because our bodies are hard wired to need rest and rejuvenation. Physically, we have two operating systems: our action mode (the “fight, flee or figure it out signals” we get from the sympathetic branch of our nervous systems) and our rejuvenation mode (the “resting, digesting and healing signals” we get from the parasympathetic branch).
Each of these modes needs to have stage time in order for us to function optimally. Depriving ourselves of rest will block the signals from the part of our nervous system that helps us rejuvenate. When the stage time is not balanced in our systems, it makes us feel like we’re struggling to keep up, and ultimately causes stress-related illnesses we’ll have to deal with. However…
Plus, research shows that the simple act of choosing has a powerful effect on how balanced, content, and in control of your life you feel. Choosing to rest and enjoy time on your couch feels very different than having to because you’re exhausted – not only physically, but psychologically.
Re-charging in the Summer Time
Making time to choose restful & rejuvenating activities is not always easy. The key is to begin small, pay attention to what you enjoy, and go from there to repeat what you like so you can build habits that work for you.
Summer is the perfect time for exploring intentional habits of R&R. You may have more natural opportunity for downtime: a slower pace both at work and at home, vacation time to “get away.” That kind of shift in pace and attitude allows for a re-directing of energy. And the increase of daylight hours offers us more opportunities for early morning or evening pauses and more time to be outside and active.
Try some of these ideas this summer:
Be Intentional about Rest:
- Choose one day, each week if you can, to completely “unplug”. Email, internet surfing, even TV watching so often saps and drains our energy. Try letting go of the urge to stay connected that way and let yourself float instead. Sit outside, enjoy a leisurely walk, lay on the grass and cloud watch. Who knows what peaceful feelings or creative ideas may come into the space that used to be filled with electronic busy-ness.
- Start a meditation practice. Summertime sunrise is quite early. What a gift! Try leaving a shade or window drape open when you go to sleep at night so the morning sun can entice you to rise 10 or 15 minutes earlier. If you’ve never meditated before, don’t let the idea of it make you anxious. It doesn’t have to be a big formalized thing. You could simply sit up in bed, breathe deeply and drink in all the sounds of the new morning for a few minutes – without planning or judging – but rather, from a simple place of noticing and gratitude. Mindfulness and gratitude work wonders for re-setting our systems and starting our day out on the right foot!
- Give your gut a break. There’s a way of letting our bodies rest & rejuvenate that I think we do instinctively when summer comes around. I’m sure you’ve experienced it… how in the heat of the summer, you just don’t want to eat as much and definitely not lots of heavy, rich foods. Summer is the perfect time to eat simple and clean which is a great way to give your digestive system a rest. When we eat heavy, slow-to-digest foods (think meat, dairy, pasta) and drink lots of caffeine or alcohol, we’re asking our intestines, and our liver and kidneys, to work pretty hard. Try taking a couple of days, or even a week, this summer to intentionally and mindfully eat only foods that are simple, clean and nourishing.
Be Intentional about Rejuvenation:
- Make a list: what energizes you? what feeds your spirit? Spending time in nature, reading some good (or bad) fiction, sleeping in on a Sunday morning, playing with your kids, going for a walk with a friend, doing a hobby you love? Spend some time thinking about and writing down all your thoughts. Then pick something to do – every week. And when you’re doing that thing that re-energizes you, the thing you love – make sure to be fully present. No multi-tasking, no secret energy drains hiding underneath or in the back of your mind. Let this thing you choose really re-fill your cup.
- Play, be a kid again, laugh. There’s great research out there about the importance of creating space for tapping into our senses of imagination, creativity and wonder. It’s essential for rejuvenating and keeping our brain signals fresh. Creating that space however, may not be so easy in our day to day lives. Thankfully summertime sometimes offers a little more leeway. Try letting your hair down a little more than perhaps you usually do. If you have kids, you’ve got great teachers to remind you how. But even, and especially, if you don’t have kids don’t let the summer go by without doing something FUN. Build a sand castle, play a game, start a new crafty hobby, learn something new that inspires you, or just plain wonder “why” a little more often. Things that make you smile and laugh are powerfully rejuvenating!
- Seek a change of scenery. I’m sure you’ve noticed this whenever you’ve gone on vacation. Somehow “getting out of town” allows you to leave your worries behind for a while. And yes, even though it’s true that you have to eventually come home, don’t sell short the healing role getting away can play. It helps you re-set, find new perspective. Stepping away allows stress to come down a notch. And it doesn’t necessarily need to be a big chunk of vacation time away. Taking a day “trip” to a park, beach, or some local green space can serve the same purpose – if you commit to being fully present. Again, no letting secret worrying drains put a leak in the cup you’re trying to re-fill. Also, if you spend most of your daytime hours inside, it’s ideal if your change of scenery gets you outdoors. Take advantage of summer’s long daylight hours – how about a walk along the beach after work? Vitamin D from the sun and fresh air are natural rejuvenators that simply can’t be beat.
A practice of being intentional with your life is a powerful tool indeed.
Why not use summer’s pace and abundance to develop your Rest and Rejuvenation skills!
If you found this helpful and would like to share your thoughts - or if you’d love some daily inspiration and motivation for your wellness, self-care, and empowered living - I invite you to come join our private Living from Center Community Facebook group. I'd love to connect with you there.