Newton’s famous law states that a body at rest stays at rest and a body in motion will stay in motion until some external force acts upon it. With our 24/7 always on, hyper-connected, overachieving, digital info-media world, most 21st century Americans live in a flow of perpetual momentum with no end in sight. Neither extreme is good, so to balance ourselves we must consciously and continually self-regulate and impose as a rejuvenating or preventative measure the act of stopping all activity from time to time. Yes, I said Stop. All. Activity.
I think pretty much all the time, about practical and bigger picture things, reflecting on the state of the world, my life, my work — analyzing, understanding, observing and being as aware as possible every waking moment, and of course I am not immune to the stresses that everyday life and being human entails. This past weekend I “slept” for almost an entire day. But not due of lack of zzzz’s, or being sick, depressed or eating bad food, but simply because after everything I’ve been dealing with the past month or two, my mind, emotions and body needed me to temporarily shut down. I had nothing pressing going on, which the wisdom in my body knew and said to me, as it does every now and then, Time for a rest.
Just like bears that hibernate each winter, we need to take a periodic pause — especially after or during a busy, challenging or stressful period — to let our bodies be still on all levels so we can reconnect, regroup and emerge refreshed and re-energized to our lives and the tasks at hand. That means (gasp!) disconnect from technology and interaction with other people, if possible, so as not to expend any physical, mental or emotional juice.
You can sleep or not sleep, but there should be no distractions or even sound if you can swing it. And no thinking, no reading, no writing. And no guilt. Just luxuriate in the nothingness. Schedule and treat it as if it were a doctor’s appointment or trip to a resort spa — because it is that crucial to your physical and mental health. In other words, why not give your body and mind a break before they break down on you?
Our society promotes getting it all done all the time, which can take its toll when not interspersed with some serious downtime, which most folks only allow themselves when things have gotten so bad they are physically ill. Keep in mind that even though you might be getting enough sleep and eating right and don’t have the flu, when you’re dealing with ongoing stress, you burn a different type of energy, which needs to be replenished with rest. And resting is different from relaxing…but if you can’t rest, then relaxing is better than nothing!
Because I’m pretty good at daily maintenance, I am generally healthy and balanced (including a weekly 24-hour no-computer usage rule) so I know when it’s time to heed the call in order to nip anything else in the bud. (And hey, most of the news, entertainment, activity, tweets etc.you would be “missing” are non-essential, irrelevant and often nonsensical anyway — so really, let it go!)
Stress is inevitable, it’s how we manage it that counts, and rest plays a big part. Need help putting on the brakes? Give me a buzz and I can be the external force that gets the ball moving or the hand that stops you in your track, so you can get back on the right one…
Originally published at medium.com