So, this definitely isn’t a blog post about the importance of rest days during your weekly workout routine. I know how important they are when it comes to recovery (because trust me, I’ve had the sore muscles to prove it!), but I don’t think there is enough information on rest days for another important muscle in your body: your mind.
Especially during this crazy and uncertain time that COVID-19 has presented us with, our minds work through so much both consciously and subconsciously, and it does this practically every second of every hour. From scrolling through social media and planning your day to juggling your job and personal life, how often do you give your mind a standing ovation for working so hard? Or better yet, give it a moment to just rest?
I don’t consider myself a mental health advocate but I most certainly will vouch for its importance in our daily lives – mainly because I have experience in struggling with anxiety in the more recent times of my life. All stemming from my postgraduate year at UCT, I won’t go into it right now but I will say that it has been a 2-year journey of me having to learn how to work with anxiety, how to still the racing thoughts I tend to get, and how to stop overthinking; these have all fallen under the work I’ve had to do on my mental health.
One glaring act that these past 2 years have shown me is how much I need to actually say yes to rest. I don’t always get it right and I certainly have pushed myself to the point of burning out but if there is one thing I have never regretted in this life, it’s taking mental rest days for myself.
You really do need to give your mind a moment to rest, whatever rest looks like for you. Whether it’s taking the day to just sleep in, to meditate, to drive out to a new scenic location to just get some air. If you needed a sign to encourage you to rest, I hope this is it.
I believe that mental rest days should be about doing things that will require you to stop thinking so much and do a little living. Go put a smile on your face on your mental rest days. Go do something that you genuinely enjoy doing and push all the other stuff aside, because it will still be there when you go back to work.
On my mental rest days, I let myself sleep in and push aside any guilt I have about waking up way past my alarm. I cook myself a hearty breakfast that’s fit for a queen. I go take a walk outside to get fresh air in my lungs. I stretch for 2 seconds and then give up to go binge the latest Netflix series.
I do the things that get my mind to stop thinking and start smiling.
So rest, especially when you can feel your mind is yearning for it. Just like how your work day has a designated lunch break, give yourself designated breaks for your mind to decompress. You will never be sorry for doing anything that only serves you for the good. You are allowed to say yes to mental rest days, so give yourself the permission to do just that.