As we finish up with the winter months and the days get longer and brighter, we take notice of what could use some refreshing. Now that there’s more light shining in your house you start to notice dust in the corners. Similarly, I think most of us are starting to notice areas of neglect as we’ve been in survival mode getting through the winter.
This is an excellent time to focus your attention on rest, renewal, and resilience. Examining the quality of your rest, finding ways that you can renew yourself, and increasing your resilience are always to assure your health and wellness. Let’s discuss some simple ways we can do that.
Over the years I’m often surprised at how often I’m communicating to my patients that 5 to 6 hours of sleep is not enough for most of us. Honestly, I am guilty of this as well, often sleeping 6 hours a night and letting distractions keep me awake. Recently I got some simple, effective advice. I participated in my friend’s Cherie’s Reset program, a part of her program Edge of Becoming. I quickly discovered that my own tendency to not sleep enough hours could be dealt with very simply by making a few simple changes in my habits. What this means for me is concentrating my use of computers to certain times a day so that I’m not online in the evening.
Allowing for adequate time to sleep has a major impact on health. “Shorter sleep duration, measured by wrist actigraphy over a 7-day period, was prospectively associated with increased incidence of the common cold following experimental viral challenge.¹” In women, sleeping an average of less than 6 hours per night has been shown to lead to “cognitive decline and increased risk of cognitive impairment, including dementia” ².
If you have become accustomed to short sleep out of habit or necessity consider looking at your schedule now. I suspect that although you feel there are many obligations that require you to stay up late or get up early they’re not nearly as necessary as you feel they are. Deciding that you can sleep in an hour or go to bed earlier is simple and I would encourage you to do this. Ideally, you should attempt to alter your schedule so that you can allow for up to 7 hours of sleep at night at the minimum.
Much like physical rest, mental rest is necessary. No matter what you vocation is, likely it involves mental tasks that heavily tax your cognitive system. Taking short mental rest during the day through meditation is my go-to. I have been studying to become a Certified Mindfulness Meditation Instructor. I am studying the details of mindfulness meditation as a daily practice. Meditation should be accessible and easy to perform. Simplifying meditation to its most basic aspects, in my experience so far, has greatly increased the meditation experience. I often recommend tools to assist with meditation, such as music, nature sounds, or aromatherapy. Mindfulness meditation emphasizes attention, intention and attitude for the meditator. This means that the focus is continuously drawn inward. I am now meditating in pure silence for about 10 minutes a day. My meditation practice consists of this simple sequence:
10 Minute Mindfulness Practice
- Set a timer for 5 minutes
- For the first 5 minutes, practice deep belly breaths, focusing the attention on the breath entering the nostrils traveling to the chest. Follow the breath back from the chest to the nostrils.
- Reset the timer for 5 minutes
- This time, practice counting and breath:
- Inhale and count 1
- Hold the breath for a count of 1
- Exhale Counting
- Inhale and count 2
- Hold the breath for a count of 1
- Exhale, counting 2
- Continue until you reach the count of 10, the count backwards.
I enjoy this meditation because of the simplicity. No complicated techniques. No need for complicated visualizations. It’s truly an effective, no frills meditation practice.
DigestiveI rest, or bowel rest, is a term we commonly use in medicine to indicate that someone is going to have a period of time that they are not allowed to eat due to a medical condition. Bowel rest is a very important therapeutic tool to use in acutely ill patients. In patients diagnosed with serious illnesses such as pancreatitis or blockage in the bowels, bowel rest or refraining from food or drink can allow the digestive system to heal. Intermittent fasting, which reminds me bowel rest uses medical care has been shown to have numerous health benefits including weight loss improving diabetes, and decreasing inflammatory markers. It can also be used in your everyday life. Many patients ask me about doing a fasting regimen or detox. This is very individualized, so depending on the patient this might be a good idea for them but also this needs to be approached carefully. Overall I would recommend discussing with your physician or care provider before taking all the detox are fasting regimen.
There are many health benefits to having extended periods of fasting throughout your regular schedule of digestive rest. This means eating dinner early and eating breakfast later. The digestive system does a lot of work whenever you eat. It requires extra blood flow to contract its muscles to digest and move the food through your system. Having periods of fasting, basically not snacking mindlessly can improve your sleep, mood, and help prevent unwanted weight gain.
As a Reiki Master, my favorite tool for renewal is a session of Reiki that I do on myself. I try to do a Reiki session on myself for at least 9 minutes a day but I will perform sessions up to 45 minutes a day if time is available. I can feel the cells in my body renewing themselves as the energy flows through my hands. Because I’m in a mindful state while I’m performing Reiki I can feel all of the stress of the world melt away. Even when I’m doing longer sessions it really doesn’t feel like it’s lasting for very long. I’ve been very fascinated with the after effects of Reiki on myself over the years. Sometimes I completed a session and felt 20 years younger and full of energy. Sometimes I’ve completed a session and I needed a nap. In any case, Reiki is intelligent healing. The energy goes where it’s needed and when it’s necessary. Its such a simple healing modality, but with time and practice, it can dissolve so much stress and worry.
There are times in life where we simply can’t avoid challenges or avoid unnecessary pain. There will be times where we simply have to go through what’s coming ahead of us. This is where resilience comes in. Resilience is the ability to heal and recover from trauma or injury Resilience requires healing on all levels including physical, emotional, mental as well as spiritual. The body can best heal and recover when it has everything it needs including nutrition, rest, fluids, and spiritual support.
Resilience improves with improve self-care. It is worth your time and energy to rest, renew, in order to achieve recently ends.
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1.Prather, A. A., Janicki-Deverts, D., Hall, M. H., & Cohen, S. (2015). Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Sleep, 38(9), 1353–1359. https://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.4968
2. Chen, J. C., Espeland, M. A., Brunner, R. L., Lovato, L. C., Wallace, R. B., Leng, X., Phillips, L. S., Robinson, J. G., Kotchen, J. M., Johnson, K. C., Manson, J. E., Stefanick, M. L., Sarto, G. E., & Mysiw, W. J. (2016). Sleep duration, cognitive decline, and dementia risk in older women. Alzheimer’s & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, 12(1), 21–33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2015.03.004