The Healing Power of Rest: Why Rest is Essential for Your Health. Hutton Health

The Healing Power of Rest: Why Rest is Essential for Your Health

20th October 2023

Like many people, I have been caught in the trap that many people do, feeling guilty taking time to rest and recharge. I have previously lived my life feeling like a  hamster running in a wheel, unable to stop, moving at a pace that is unsustainable without the chance to breathe.

Living life in this way, chasing the end of my errands, constantly trying to deliver at work and show up the best way I could for my family left me a frazzled mess, lacking energy, focus, patience and the ability to enjoy anything I was doing. 

My reasons for not stopping were similar to the reasons that I often hear from my clients and friends. 

Common reasons people feel like they can’t take the time to res:t

  • Cultural and Societal Pressure

Often being seen as ‘busy’ can be equated with being ‘productive’. Taking the time to rest can make people feel guilty because they've been conditioned to believe that they should always be working or accomplishing something.

  • Work ethic

Some individuals have a strong work ethic that compels them to be constantly productive. They may feel guilty when they rest because they associate it with laziness or a lack of dedication to their work or goals.

It can be difficult for people to accept and acknowledge the positive effect that rest can have on productivity and focus. Instead, in today’s fast paced world, there is often a fear of falling behind in work, life, family or social circles.

  • Rest can be seen as a luxury or self-indulgence

Rest is often viewed as a form of self-indulgence. This can lead people to feel guilty taking the time to rest because they think they should be prioritising others or being selfless rather than taking time for themselves.

  • Unrealistic expectations

Some individuals set extremely high standards for themselves, expecting to accomplish a vast amount in a short time. When they rest, they may feel guilty because they perceive it as not measuring up to their own demanding expectations.

When I first started taking time to rest and recharge, I felt like I shouldn’t ‘need’ the time because I should have the energy, focus and determination to push through the day, making the most of every minute. Needing to take a break felt like a weakness rather than a necessary rest.

Rest plays an important role in maintaining physical and mental health, as well as in promoting long-term productivity and wellbeing. Reducing guilt associated with rest often involves challenging these societal and personal beliefs and understanding that rest is an essential part of a balanced and healthy life.

Rest is crucial for several reasons, and it plays a vital role in maintaining overall health and wellbeing.  


Here are 10 reasons why we need to rest:

  • Physical Recovery:

Rest allows the body to recover and repair itself. During rest, various physiological processes take place, such as tissue repair, muscle growth, and the release of hormones that promote healing and growth.

Adequate rest is essential for maintaining physical health and preventing injuries.

  • Mental Clarity and Focus:

Rest is essential for maintaining cognitive function. It helps improve concentration, problem-solving abilities, and decision-making.

Without enough rest, mental fatigue can set in, leading to decreased productivity and increased errors.

  • Emotional Well-Being:

Rest is closely tied to emotional health. It provides an opportunity to process emotions, reduce stress, and regulate mood.

Lack of rest can lead to emotional exhaustion, irritability, and increased susceptibility to mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

  • Stress Reduction:

Rest is a natural stress reliever. When you rest, stress hormones like cortisol decrease, and the body's relaxation response is activated. This helps reduce the physical and mental toll of chronic stress.

  • Memory Consolidation:

During sleep, particularly during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, the brain consolidates and organizes information gathered during waking hours. This process is crucial for learning and memory retention.

  • Immune System Support:

Rest is essential for a well-functioning immune system. During deep sleep, the body produces cytokines, proteins that play a role in fighting infections and inflammation.

Chronic sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses.

  • Energy Replenishment:

Rest restores energy levels by replenishing glycogen stores in muscles and providing a break for the cardiovascular system. This, in turn, helps maintain physical stamina and endurance.

  • Creativity and Problem-Solving:

Rest can foster creativity and improve problem-solving abilities. It allows the brain to make new connections and insights, which can be beneficial in various aspects of life, including work and personal projects.

  • Hormonal Balance:

Adequate rest helps maintain hormonal balance, including hormones related to hunger and appetite. Sleep deprivation can disrupt these hormones, leading to weight gain and metabolic issues.

  • Overall Well-Being:

Rest contributes to an overall sense of well-being and quality of life. It helps individuals feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and better prepared to face the challenges of the day.

Types of Rest

Types of Rest

We often hear about the importance of rest, both prioritising getting quality sleep and taking breaks to rest during the day.

Rest is defined as ‘cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength:’

The only time some of us may consider going to bed early to catch up on sleep is after a late night on the weekend or when we are exhausted from overdoing it. As much as this is an important time to head to bed early, making rest an essential part of your life can improve your health and wellbeing.

Rest can look different for everyone and can vary depending on your current schedule and stresses. While sleeping can give your body a break, different types of rest can allow your whole being to take a break.

Prioritising rest in your schedule can help you perform at your best physically and mentally; from being more productive and creative to increasing your concentration levels.

There are different types of rest that are important to allow yourself the chance to recover, recharge and fill your tank to feel your best mentally and physically.

Rest can be categorized into various types, each serving different purposes and benefits.

Here are some common types of rest:

1. Physical Rest

Physical rest can be further broken down into active and passive rest.

Active physical rest involves restorative activities such as yoga, stretching, gentle walks and activities that improve flexibility and circulation.

Passive physical rest involves resting without any strenuous physical activity, such as sitting or lying down.

  • Sleep: The most essential form of physical rest, during which the body repairs and rejuvenates itself.
  • Naps: Short periods of sleep taken during the day to recharge and boost alertness.
This YogaSleep machine allows you to create a personalised sleeping environment to promote quality sleep.


Physical Rest

2. Mental Rest

Mental rest allows your mind to stop trying to process information.

Even if you are getting the suggested 7-9 hours of sleep each night, you can wake up feeling exhausted.  It is easy to turn to caffeine to kick the tired feelings and find the necessary energy for the day, but this won’t solve the mental exhaustion and resulting difficulty in concentrating on work.

When you take mental rest, you are giving your mind and emotions a break from stimuli.

Ways to rest mentally:

  • Mindfulness: Being fully present in the moment, paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
  •  Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing techniques can calm the mind and reduce stress.
  • Taking short breaks through the work day
  • Keeping a notebook by your bed to write down thoughts that may otherwise disturb your sleep and keep you up at night
This mindfulness journal is a great addition to a mindfulness journey to help you stay in the present moment and live mindfully. 


Mental Rest

3. Sensory Rest

The world is incredibly stimulating with bright lights, screens, noise and people which can be overwhelming for our mind. Fatigue and exhaustion that can come from being continually stimulated can be detrimental to our mental health and can leave us feeling burned out, overwhelmed and stressed.

Ways to practice sensory rest:

  • Sensory Deprivation: Reducing or eliminating external sensory input, such as floating in a sensory deprivation tank.
  • Nature Walks: Being in nature and away from the noise and distractions of urban life can provide sensory rest.
  • Creative Rest: Taking a Break from Creative Work: Pausing creative activities like writing, painting, or designing to prevent burnout. Experiencing New Things: Trying new experiences and exposing yourself to different stimuli can reignite creativity
  • Take screen breaks through the day
  • Closing your eyes for a short time, taking a few slow, deep breaths
Sensory Rest

4. Emotional Rest

It can be exhausting to continually share your energy with others, even more so for the many people pleasers who struggle to do and say what they like, instead, prioritising other people’s feelings and desires.

Tips for prioritising your emotional rest:

  • Create time and space to put yourself first
  • Speak openly, honestly and freely without concern for other people’s judgements
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Set healthy boundaries for yourself
  • Surround yourself with positive and supportive people and limit your time and energy hoovers who don’t give you the opportunity be yourself

Ways you to add emotional self-care in your life, taking care of your emotional health involves being aware of your emotions, accepting these emotions and taking steps to manage and improve them.

Your emotions influence the memories you attach to experiences, play a part in how you connect to other people, influence the decisions you make and how you approach the world around you.

Emotional Rest

From the vital role it plays in revitalising our bodies to its capacity to rejuvenate our minds, rest is an essential cornerstone of our overall health and well-being.

In a world that often glorifies constant hustle and burnout, it's crucial to remember that embracing rest is not a sign of weakness or idleness. Instead, it's a declaration of self-care, a commitment to nurturing our bodies and minds, and a pledge to a healthier, more balanced life.

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