We often treat rest and relaxation as a reward, something to be earned after burning the candle at both ends. In western culture this is seen as laziness. We have created a whole narrative to go with relaxation because we don’t understand it’s function. In reality, we weren’t meant to go, go, go all the time. There is a reason that it’s burning you out.
The brain on rest & relaxation
Our brains depend on rest and relaxation. When we sleep our brain goes into repair mode. It is able to make sense of the information learned throughout the day and file different things away. Our brain also needs downtime. This is time in which we aren’t doing anything productive, we are just allowing space to be. This could be on a walk, listening to music or simply being. The brain uses this time for integration. Integration is the taking in and making sense of information learned throughout the day.
What is the point of integration?
Integration does many things for the brain. Have you ever felt like you were spinning around in your mind when faced with a problem? You feel stuck, no where to go and no way to solve it. Integration helps with this! When we are able to take some time away from the problem, engage in more rest, our brain actually helps integrate old and new information. This means when we re-visit the problem, we are better able to solve it.
Integration also supports many other things: enhanced creativity, self-awareness, our ability to regulate and calm our emotions, happiness and fulfillment to name a few. When we allow our brains to relax we are actually able to get more done and in a more effective way. There is new opportunity to find ways to even improve the process of getting done what we need to get done.
Many times we have underlying core beliefs of ourselves around rest. This is where you may need some additional support. Brainspotting can be an effective tool to engage in to support the clearing of old narratives and beliefs and actually helps the integration process of the brain as well!
I’m hoping after reading this you give yourself more permission to rest. Find ways that support your rest and things that help your mind integrate all that information you are taking in. It is crucial for your wellbeing and for the times where you are engaging in productivity.
Patrice Flanagan-Morris, LCSW
Empowerment Within LLC