Rest, break, downtime. Do you get enough? Do you wish you had more of it? Rest or recovery is essential for our survival. You wake up, at some point in your day you’ll feel tired (some might feel tired all day), you might get a break, you might power through, then you are hopefully able to fall asleep to then wake up and start the cycle again.
According to Smithsonianmag.com, nearly one-third of Americans sleep fewer than six hours per night, lower than the recommended amount of 7-9 hours by the National Sleep Foundation. Inability to concentrate, mood swings and issues with memory are the immediate symptoms of lack of sleep. In addition, prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, a weakened immune system that could increase the risk of diabetes, certain heart conditions, and even dementia. Multiple studies show the importance of sleep and getting adequate rest day-to-day. However, assuming you get enough sleep, here are some tips to aid in the rest and recovery needed throughout your day.
In the United States, our sleep trend is to have one long sleep, usually at night, for 7-9 hours. However, around the globe, sleeping during the day is commonly accepted. Many might be familiar with the “siesta” in Spain; Italy has “riposo” and Japan has “inemuri,” all socially accepted forms of daytime sleep, rest, or downtime. According to the study The Restorative Effect of Naps on Perceptual Deterioration, co-authored by Sara C. Mednick, a 20- to 60-minute nap may help with memorization and learning specific bits of information. For full recovery, a 90-minute nap was necessary in order to complete the sleep cycle.
Close Your Eyes and Breathe
Perhaps you do not have 20 minutes to take a nap. To rest for a moment, close your eyes and breath in and out for one minute. Staring at a screen can cause eye fatigue; by mindfully closing your eyes, you can give them a quick rest. For an added boost, rub your palms together, then place the heel of your palm on the closed eyes. Gently press and feel the warmth of your hands over your eyes. Do this periodically throughout the day, especially if you are staring at a screen for work.
Get Lost in Something That Isn’t Work-related for 10 Minutes
What Does Doodling Do, a study published in the Applied Cognitive Psychology journal, found a 29% increase in retention for the doodling group as compared to the control group.
Doodle, draw, color, play a quick one-person game, or simply get lost daydreaming for 10 minutes. Our brains have two different modes – the focused mode and the diffused mode. According to themetalearners.com, the focused mode is the active mode of when you are learning or practicing. The diffused mode is a more relaxed state, and it is when we have the ability to understand new and abstract concepts. It’s in the diffused mode that we experience those “aha” moments. Both modes are necessary for learning. Getting lost in something outside of work helps to turn on the diffused mode.
Show Gratitude When You Are Not Tired
As we move throughout our day, tiredness comes and goes. It is natural and like the sun setting, so does our energy. We all have different times of alertness, but it is always good to be grateful during the times we are aware of “not being tired.” The Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, said, “When we have a toothache, we know that not having a toothache is happiness. But later, when we don’t have a toothache, we don’t treasure our non-toothache. Practicing mindfulness helps us learn to appreciate the well-being that is already there.” As you go on, notice the times that require rest, and notice the times when you feel alert. Work during these times, acknowledge the absence of tiredness, and rejoice as this is the time to get things done.
Natalia Foote is the owner of threeR, a company bringing mindfulness, meditation and yoga practices to the workplace. Her mission in life is spreading love and light in the world. When not spending time with her family, you can find Natalia taking and teaching yoga all around Lake Nona.