Rest & Rejuvenation
Author: Tresa Clemmensen M.SC. CCC
We live in a society where busyness and stress are viewed as normal and often idealized. If you are not rushing and keeping busy, there must be something wrong with you, right? No! The eating disorder thrives off of busyness and the rush mentality and it can often feel uncomfortable to slow down and be with oneself. However, with practice, anything can become more comfortable over time. Slowing down and learning how to rest and rejuvenate yourself is so important, not only for recovery, but for your overall well-being.
There are many ways to restore and rejuvenate. Below are some examples of domains that can help you with this.
Physical - Getting adequate sleep is important, not only for your physical health, but also for your mental and emotional well-being. Sleeping is a form of physical rest and this includes both sleeping and napping and during this time the body recovers in the lack of movement. When you are sleep deprived, it can affect all the other aspects of your life. It is much harder to be aware of your thoughts, including eating disorder thoughts, or challenge the eating disorder, and be present and engaged when you are sleep deprived. Another form of physical rest includes active physical rest, and these restorative types of activities help to improve your circulation and lymphatic and help to relax your muscles. Restorative activities can include getting a massage, yin yoga, and stretching.
Emotional - Emotional rest has to do with being able to connect with and acknowledge your emotions and release them. When you resist your emotions, they persist. Avoiding emotions or pushing them away is a guaranteed way to get the emotion to stick around longer. Allowing yourself the space to feel your emotions, whether that be through journaling, talking to a friend or therapist, or being able to locate and observe the feeling in the body, are some of the ways you can acknowledge and feel your emotions. Kristen Neff has two guided meditations, one called Noting Emotions and the other Soften, Soothe and Allow that can be helpful meditations to guide you through emotions that you are experiencing. These can be found on her website at www.selfcompassion.org. There is a saying that goes “We have to feel it, to heal it” and it is very true when it comes to emotional health. It may seem exhausting to feel your emotions but pushing them away actually leads to further distress within the mind and body and as you learn to feel your emotions through practice, it will become easier to feel them.
Mental - Everyone has mental chatter that goes on in our minds all day long and we are often engaged with this chatter, whether that be chatter from work, the eating disorder, or your to-do list. You may find that when you try and go to bed at night, that your mind will not shut off and you are caught up in a mind train of thoughts and worries. It can be helpful to spend some time in the evening to do some journaling and dump all the thoughts on paper and then move into some activities that can help you to quiet the mind such as meditation or watching your favorite sitcom.
Spiritual - Connecting to your spirituality can help to rejuvenate your soul. How you do this is dependent on your own spiritual beliefs. For some, this will be faith-based and may include prayer. For others, connecting to your spirituality may include meditation, connecting to nature, connecting to others to increase a sense of belonging.
Social - It can be helpful to look at the relationships in your life and to see which ones are fulfilling and which ones drain your energy. It is also helpful to recognize how and where you get your energy. Some individuals will rejuvenate by being around others, while some rejuvenate by being on your own and having space from others. One is not better than the other, but it is important to know which way you replenish your energy.
Sensory - We live in world that constantly bombards us with sensory stimulation. Having access to constant stimulation using your iPhone and social media can affect you negatively. We know how the eating disorder loves to use comparison to it’s advantage! Choosing to be mindful of how much sensory input you are experiencing and how it is affecting you will provide you with good information on what type of boundaries would be helpful. Allowing yourself quiet time and silence, which can include just being with yourself with no other stimulation, meditating, or reading. Set boundaries with your technology such as using time-blocks with emails and social media rather than checking it all day long, which can take you on a roller coaster that you do not even know you are on.
Leisure - Engaging in activities that nourish you and allow you to feel energized, refreshed and joy filled is what leisure rest is all about. These can include creative endeavours such as painting and drawing or playing an instrument or knitting. May also include things like visiting your favorite museum or symphony. These activities connect you with awe and wonder.
There can be a fear that allowing oneself time to rest and rejuvenate will impede upon your productivity. But in truth, it is rest and rejuvenation that allows you to function optimally, something the eating disorder does not wish for you. When many think of productivity, they often think of achieving in certain domains such as work and academics. This is a narrow definition of productivity. There is nothing more productive than making your well-being a priority. Expand your definition of productivity to include overall well-being. Attune to your physical, emotional, mental well-being and know that it is vital to slow down, rest, rejuvenate and increase the joy in your life. Doing so, will ultimately allow you to be energized in the other domains of life, such as work and academics.