Mindful Monday: Getting Intentional about Rest and Saying "No"
Good morning, Everyone!
Recently I was working with a woman who was really motivated to change her body with fitness, but struggled to know what to do on non-workout days.
She found it especially difficult to navigate her days when something prevented her from sticking to her normal fitness routine, like sickness, injury, work meetings or last minute interruptions.
She's a "doer" and doesn't know what to "do" with herself when she's not "doing."
I totally get this because I'm the same way, but as doers we have to be SUPER careful to prioritize rest and downtime. Every moment of the day doesn't have to be about heavy-lifting (metaphorically speaking) and getting things done. If it is, then we burn out. We need that down time, because it keeps us balanced and connected to our lives. It prevents burnout and ultimately allows us to produce more at a higher quality and be happier, more present people.
So we talked about how to incorporates some structure into her rest time....basically how she could get REAL intentional about rest and leisure.
I recommended that she begin to think of it less like down time and relaxation, but more as specific actions that was support her gym and health goals.
This would allow her to get little more disciplined about it, the way that she is with her workouts, and therefore feel like she was actually "doing something".
This approach resonated with my client and helped her to begin to recognize that what she's doing outside of her workouts is just as important as what she does during them.
Scheduling specific, regimented things that we do to support and rest our bodies, even when we're not exercising or eating, helps us actually to make it happen and treat it as something of value.
It's something that we need to do because it's going to keep us mentally, physically and emotionally healthy. It's not laziness or idle time, it's intentional rest.
Ok so what can we do to rest exactly?
Things like Epsom salt soaks, walks (obvs), time reading a good book or just sitting quietly, visiting with friends, sun bathing, journaling, massage...all of these activities help us to connect with ourselves, be present in the moment, and just take a deep breath.
Like I said, these are sorts of things I struggle to be consistent with myself.
I'm good at getting stuff done, and I'm pretty good about walking because I use that as a brainstorming time (even when I have the 3 kids and the dog...) but sitting still and just calmly thinking (or not thinking) is not something that I always make time for, yet I can feel the release and calmness and health benefits that comes with these acts.
Lately, my husband has been setting aside time to see our massage therapist for an injury that has been bothering him. And when he goes to one appointment, he makes the next one. He makes that commitment right then to come back, de-stress and care for his body. I on the other hand am someone that would leave with every intention of getting back in there in a month or two and a year later realizing that I never went back all because I didn't commit in the moment to doing something restful and restorative because I feared that it would conflict with something that I had to get done. Yet I know that it's sooooo important to take time to chill.
One thing I see happening a lot these days is that many of us don't get strategic about downtime, about rest, and restoration. Consequently we burn-out or we resort of unwinding and caring for ourselves with indulgence. Be it shopping, eating treats, drinking lots of alcohol, binging on Netflix every night....we choose these things because they are within reach. They require no commitment ahead of time. They are simple, they help us to forget about the day, and cost us very little. While it might take some work to get out on a walk, schedule a massage, sneak out to quiet place, or plan an outing with a friend, these activities can be impromptu (impulsive) and geographically convenient.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with snacking and watching Netflix, but if we're honest with ourselves, sitting, eating, drinking and watching Netflix every night IN PLACE quality restorative and restful activities typically does not support us in our fitness and fat-loss goals either and can facilitate mindless eating/escapism.
It's not a substitute for activities that provide us time to think and connect with our bodies to check in and see how we are feeling.
So if you choose to have screen and snack time every night and that is NOT in conflict with practicing self care, because you've got that covered, then this message is not for you.
So if you feel like those downtime moments are a waste, don't.
Wellness and fitness are so much more than just exercise and nutrition.
In fact we are more likely to stick to a program, when we give ourselves some quiet time to relax and re-connect...to get intentional about how we spend our days.
Rushing from thing to thing without breaks leads to a life on auto-pilot which leads to stress, mindless decisions (usually not super smart choices) and just a feeling of breathlessness and lack of time.
Which brings me to my last point. Maybe eating and drinking and watching Netflix every night is not your thing....but maybe your problem is that you are just too busy.
I'm an introvert, so while I put a lot of pressure on myself to "do things" during the day, I'm not someone with a full social calendar. I do however work with women for whom this is a HUGE problem. Their days are chock-full of business. Social meetings, participations in clubs and events. Every day has some sort of activities that involves them having to be somewhere with other people and rarely getting time to themselves.
This is often a real struggle for moms. The playdates, sports schedules, school obligations, music lessons, church functions.... Moms are spending their lives in their cars running from things to thing.
Their chief complaint is that they don't have time to workout and eat nutritious food and they're right. THEY DON'T HAVE TIME.
But the thing is, no one can make time for you. No one is going to grab the reigns of your life and say,
"Hey I noticed that you seem tired, that you're not living a life that is consistent with the goals and that you don't even seem to have time to even stop and think about what you want your life to look like. "
You're gonna have to do it. You're going to have to "NO" to busy and "YES" to rest. Otherwise you're going to crash.
"No, I can't help out at that charity event." "No, you can't play that sport this season." "No, we aren't going to that random kid's birthday party this weekend."
Need help carving out time and finding the motivation for your physique and lifestyle goals? Click the pic to learn more about how I can help!
I am definitely someone that advocates the "Me Too" approach to self-care vs. the "Me first". So don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that you should neglect your responsibilities as a mom.
But I know personally that on the weeks that I'm running from appointment to preschool, to a social event, to a playdate, I'm FREAKING CRAZY!
I choose less good quality food. I don't get in my workouts.
I certainly don't walk. AND I crash and watch Netflix with wine...too much.
Which is why I don't do that. When life is feeling too crazy, I say "No."
And right now with 3 kids 6 and under, I say "NO" a lot. I say no to church obligations, weekend birthday parties, lots of enrichment activities for my kids and social events.
I know that for me and my family, my ability to be present, happy, healthy and care for them as I care for myself is the most important. We all need downtime, room for rest and time with our thoughts. When I don't get intentional about rest, I'm not as patient or happy.
And what kind of life is that? My kids needs me to be present (not perfect!!) and relatively happy. My husband needs me to me not to be frustrated with my life.
If I don't take time to check in with my brain and my body, then I'm a rudderless ship.
Rest is something that we just have to make happen.