If you’re like me, you have the tendency to want to get a lot of things done. Personally, I’m very creative and love to communicate my passion for natural healing and holistic medicine.
You might be someone who loves your work (or maybe doesn’t love it so much) and you find yourself working a lot of extra hours to do a good job. Or, you might be a stay-at-home-mom that is continually busy doing things related to running your household, keeping the kids in positive activities, and preparing meals for the family.
You might also be a very social person who likes to go out, be amongst large (or even intimate) groups of friends on a regular basis – attending parties, gatherings, meetings, conferences, and other such events with frequency.
And, if you’re like me, from time to time (or even a LOT of the time) you may find yourself feeling run down, overwhelmed, a little tired or even flat-out exhausted.
Over the years running what has become a very busy holistic health clinic, I’ve had to learn balance. I’ve had to learn to rest more. My tendency is to go-go-go-go. I LOVE helping people, I LOVE my work, and if rest and sleep were not biologically necessary, I could easily do it 24-7 with no problem and never get bored.
But the reality is if I want to be “on my game”, if I want to be effective and truly help my patients, there has to be balance. There has to be a continual movement back and forth between outflow and inflow — between giving to others and giving back to myself.
This is something I’ve learned from experience. Although of course I’d read about it and heard it from people over many years, I didn’t really fully understand its meaning until I found myself seeing 80-100 people a week in my clinic – many of whom are dealing with pretty serious emotional challenges on top of their physical ones.
You may find yourself feeling a continual “behind the 8-ball” feeling. Like you’re never caught up. Like you just need to go that next mile to finally “get over the hump” but instead you just don’t have the energy to get there.
This is your body telling you to shut it down for a minute, to exhale and REST.
And, this is more than just sleep. Getting your eight to ten hours of sleep can be refreshing and is in my opinion key to true wellness. But we also need restful time while we’re awake. That time that is open, soft, and gentle.
My wife, if she’s reading this, is probably laughing because she sees how driven I am, how passionate I am about what I do, and how passionately I approach my work. I’m not professing to be perfect at this, by any means. But, I am getting better at it as I go along and develop more awareness about ways to make time for restoration and rejuvenation.
There are three key practices I use to do maximize my restful time, despite the fact that I am a very busy, action-oriented person. I find them all equally effective and easy to do. Even if you do just ONE of them each week you’ll start noticing a difference. But, some of them can be done on a daily basis and, if you’re getting into a daily rhythm of this, it can be life transforming.
Restful Tip Number One: Quiet Time Before Bed
This is a great way to gather yourself and allow some time for “decompression”. A lot of the time (and especially if you have younger kids) the tendency is to keep going until you go to bed. You’ll be folding that last bit of laundry, or watching your show on TV, or cleaning up the kitchen just before you go to the bedroom and get in bed.
Try this instead: Wrap things up at least an hour before bedtime (I know some of you moms out there are laughing at this one but, trust me, I know you’re imaginative enough to find a way to do this – hint: ask for help). Go ahead and go to the bedroom, do your pre-bed rituals (i.e. brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, etc.) and take your time. Then, go ahead and get in bed but don’t go to sleep just yet. Dim the lights. Listen to some quiet music. Read a book that is inspiring and uplifting (or, if you want to have crazy, restless dreams read a romance or suspense novel, LOL). Or, you can just sit and… get this… DO NOTHING for a little while. That’s right, just sit there.
I know most of us aren’t taught how to “do nothing”. But, it’s actually very easy. Just sit still. Look at a painting on the wall, or a picture of something, or contemplate a quote of wisdom you like. You don’t have to have an external object to do this “quiet time” thing.
You could even do this simple meditation. (Click the link to download it now).
Whatever you decide, the main thing is give yourself a buffer between your activity and your sleep time. Just REST a little. Done consistently over many days, you’ll gain tremendous benefits from this as your energy is gradually conserved more and more.
Restful Tip Number Two: A Completely Unplanned Day
I remember when I used to play more musical gigs. I was in a wedding band and, often, we might have performances 3-4 weekends a month, at least one night each of those weekends. For example, we might play on a Friday night one weekend, then Saturday night the next weekend, then both Friday and Saturday the following weekend.
There were times when I would go many weeks without a day of unstructured time. It was brutal, honestly. As much as I LOVE to play music (and I still play at least a couple of times a month), this ended up being very draining. I might have a few hours on a Saturday to sleep in a little, spend some time with my family, then have to run off to a gig which – because it was a formal wedding event – would be 2 hours of waiting time after set up, 4 hours of playing time with a few breaks, then break down and drive home usually around or a little after midnight.
I finally let that go. I had to move on from it because it was draining my energy – especially as I’ve moved into my mid-40’s. Not that I feel “old for my age”. Not at all. But, I have noticed that I can’t get away with going at the same speed as I did 10 years ago without feeling the consequences!
Now, I try to have at least one day and sometimes even BOTH days of the weekend be as unstructured as possible. I wake up and see what I feel like doing. There’s always some (or a lot) of family time on weekends if possible (although my wife’s business is open on Saturday). But, we don’t do much planning ahead. Some people disagree with this but I find that it’s really nice and spontaneous and it allows for me to just stay home and chill if I’ve had a more intense week at the clinic.
I may work on my computer a little bit on the weekend (because, well, as a “business owner” there’s always things to do), but even when I do I try to do it while reclining or relaxing. I may sit with my family in the family room as they watch a show or a movie and I’ll work on my laptop a little bit, if that’s necessary. But, I don’t feel rushed and I don’t feel overwhelmed. I take my time and make sure not to be in a hurry. We may get up in the middle and go for dinner, or a walk, or lunch, or… really whatever we feel like.
The key is this: The time is open, and we have nowhere special to go, nothing special to do. That’s what makes it an opportunity to rest and relax, regardless of where we end up.
Restful Tip Number Three: Wake Up Early Enough So You Can Take Your Time In The Morning
This is a really good one. Your morning sets the tone for your whole day. If your first half-hour of the day is rushed and frantic, it’s likely the rest of your day is going to be spent working yourself back to a baseline of calm (if you even get there at all).
Rest isn’t just about space or lack of activity — it’s also about timing and pace. Moving slowly, intentionally, and patiently can feel just as restful as lying down and reading a good book.
In fact, I’d argue that slow, intentional, graceful movement is MORE restful, in some ways, than what what we traditionally think of as “rest”.
That’s because when we move with intention, and slow down in the process, we dramatically shift out of stress and into something called flow. Flow is a natural state of being, effortless and calm. The more time we spend in flow, the more effortless things feel. And, the less effort, the less wasted energy.
If you are moving more intentionally through your day, paying attention and not rushing, you are literally conserving vital resources your body will then use for more restorative, healing purposes. It’s like building up a savings account of calm, serenity, and inner peace.
Want to learn how to move calmly, slowly, and intentionally? A great way to do that is via an ancient Chinese practice called Qigong. In the upcoming re-launch of Axelrad Clinic Academy, I’ll have some simple video instruction for you on this amazing art that integrates movement, meditation, breath, and visualization.
Leave me a comment below to let me know what you think! Of course, you can also ask any questions in the comments section and I’ll be sure to answer.
Until next time!