The Art of Rest

by Jan 14, 2021

Ah, rest.  We need it, we love it, and most of us don’t get enough of it.  We currently live in a weird and stressful world that keeps us up at night, insomnia is alarmingly common, and some don’t react well to melatonin tablets, and many of us have a tight schedule that leaves little time for rest.

If you’re having trouble giving your body a break or conking out for the night, there are things you can do to slow the racing thoughts and promote restful sleep.  Before I list them and detail the art of them, let’s address the importance of the art of rest.

What Are the Benefits of Rest?

Both sleep and making time for self-care are crucial for your overall health.  A tired brain functions suboptimally, discourages the production of serotonin and melatonin, increases stress, kills your mood, and likely leads to nasty body aches.  I’m pretty sure all of us have endured a breakless day or a sleepless night, and thus have had one or all of these symptoms.

Adequate rest lets the brain to secrete warm fuzzy chemicals that make you feel good inside.  A good mood reduces stress and tense muscles.  Lowered stress and pain levels will improve your work performance.  It pretty much provides your body the opposite of all things terrible.

But if you really can’t get that rest without some intervention, here are some things that will either induce relaxation or mimic the effects of sleep.

Interventions You Can Take to Help You Master the Art of Rest

Bodywork

Acupuncture and massage are common go-tos for rest promotion.  You have specific points all over your body that your acupuncturist will needle to help you sleep.  In my own experience, I’ve had relaxing dreamlike sensations when I receive acupuncture.  The very act of laying on a heated table is enough to make you want to sleep, and getting those sweet spots stimulated further pushes you into a restful state.

I write about massage and sleep quite a bit when I blog.  A one hour massage mimics the effects of a one-hour sleep, whether you actually fall asleep or not.  About half of my clients actually fall asleep while receiving a massage, which doubles the benefits.  This makes it a really effective treatment for new parents and professional athletes who really need a quiet comfy environment for a change!  Massage reduces pain and stress, releasing the sleep-promoting chemicals in the brain as it does so.  Oh, you’re going to see a lot of repetition in these next paragraphs.

Meditation

Guided or by yourself, meditation is an excellent form of rest.  Even if your mind wanders here and there, the gentle breaths and relaxed eyelids will reduce blood pressure and heart rate.  This will bring on resting heart rate and ease those racing thoughts.

Yoga

Yoga works similarly to meditation and is often combined with meditation too.  It relaxes both the body and mind and can be easily done at home for someone with a tight schedule.  Get out the yoga mat and do 15 minutes of yoga before heading to bed.  That’s probably the best time to release your mental and physical stress.  The breathing exercises and guided visualizations will, like meditation, bring about resting heart rate.

It doesn’t hurt to have some binaural beats or relaxing music playing in the background.

Chamomile

You can drop chamomile oil into a diffuser, apply it topically, or drink it in a tea.  It’s often referred to as a natural tranquilizer, thanks to an antioxidant called apigenin.  Apigenin, which is found in chamomile, minds to brain receptors that induce sleep.  Personally, I think chamomile tea is the best way to go.  The warmth gives you a cozy feeling, and the absence of caffeine offers a relaxation that many teas don’t.

Working Out

While it boosts your energy in the moment, working out will later promote a healthy rest.  Regular exercise balances your circadian rhythm, also known as the bodily internal clock.  This can put your body on a steady schedule, prompting it to know when it’s time to sleep and wake.

Lavender or Valerian Root

Here are some other oils to drop into the diffuser.  Research has shown that both lavender and valerian decrease autonomic arousal, the involuntary reaction to a perceived threat.  Both oils contain flavonoids, which have sedative effects on the body.

Cannabidiol

Before I get started, note that not everyone has the same response to CBD.  Additionally, the connection between sleep and CBD needs to be further studied.

That being said, all of my clients have reported having a restful sleep after getting a CBD massage from me.  I get an excellent sleep after I receive one, too!  Research shows that CBD interacts with brain receptors that regulate the sleep/wake cycle.  CBD is also known to (in many people, but not all) reduce pain and stress levels, which promote rest.

Now Go Practice the Art of Rest!

Selfcare is key to rest!  Add some rest inducing activities to your wellness routine, remember to breathe, and drink caffeine-free tea!

Stay happy, healthy, and well-rested!

Katrina Jenkins

Katrina Jenkins

Author, Licensed Massage Therapist

Katrina Jenkins graduated from Towson University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and worked as a nurse’s aide briefly before pursuing her true passion. She graduated from the Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado in April 2016 with honors and completed the Touch of Healers Scholarship Program the following summer. She has been a part of the Moyer Total Wellness Team since the summer of 2017.

Resources

Authors, A. S. A., et al. “CBD: For Sleep and Insomnia.” American Sleep Association, www.sleepassociation.org/sleep-treatments/cbd/.

Berkheiser, Kaitlyn. “The 6 Best Bedtime Teas That Help You Sleep.” Healthline, 21 Oct. 2019, www.healthline.com/nutrition/teas-that-help-you-sleep#2.-Valerian-root. Accessed 5 Nov. 2020.

Loewy, Joanne. “Music Therapy as a Potential Intervention for Sleep Improvement.” Nature and Science of Sleep, vol. 12, no. 12, 7 Jan. 2020, pp. 1–9, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6954684/#CIT0018, 10.2147/NSS.S194938.

Sayorwan, Winai, et al. “The Effects of Lavender Oil Inhalation on Emotional States, Autonomic Nervous System, and Brain Electrical Activity.” Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand = Chotmaihet Thangphaet, vol. 95, no. 4, 1 Apr. 2012, pp. 598–606, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22612017/.

Photo Credit

Canva – Leonid Yastremskiy

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