Rest days have become one of the most illusive things in our work-hard culture.

What most people don’t realize is that rest days are critical to performance, health, and wellbeing. Resting both the mind and the body can do wonders to repair, rebuild and strengthen.

Many people think that rest is overrated or not necessary, but the truth is that the body will break down due to stress, overuse, and the depletion of energy over time.

Here’s why resting and recovery is so important!

Portrait of male resting at home on his couch

Recovery allows the body to replenish.

The human body has several systems that need to be repaired and recovered. Hormonal, neurological, muscular, immune, and structural.

Recovery allows the body to replenish energy that has been spent. Believe it or not, but the body burns a lot of calories even when you haven’t been active! For example, when your brain has been overworked for a long period of time, the body will initiate a recovery mode to replenish energy. This is why you’re hungry after a lot of mental work!

Also, if you have been very active with exercise or physical labor, the body will experience muscle tissue breakdown (the depletion of muscle glycogen).

Rest and recovery encompasses more than just muscle repair… it involves chemical, physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual balance!

What are the elements of rest?

Good rest involves more than just sleep. For most professional athletes, it’s a period of at least 12-24 hours without physical exertion or energy depletion.

Good rest involves:

Sleep – Getting between 7-10 hours is optimal. Sleep allows our body to enter an effective resting state.

Hydration – Water helps all our functions but can lower stress on the heart, improve blood pressure and skin tone, and even better hair quality!

Nutrition – Eating well by limiting sugars and carbs can help our body recover faster. Staying away from processed foods such as wheat or dairy and eating natural foods such as fruits and vegetables can also help our body recover faster.

Posture and Stretching – Bad posture can harm the spine and cause back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, leg pain, and headaches. Take time to stand up and take a walk. Go see a Tulsa Chiropractor to reset your spine! And take time to do yoga or periodic stretches.

Muscle Release (Massaging) – Tight muscles and trigger points occasionally need assistance to release. Seeing a professional massage therapist can help to rebalance your body and release tension.

Heat, Ice, Compression – Many athletes use heat, ice, and compression to aid sore muscles and pain. If you’ve hurt a part of your body or overworked a muscle group, heat and ice can help to loosen up that part of your body.

Mental and Emotional Break – Taking a break from work, emails, reports, and responsibility can do wonders on your psyche. Set a boundary and take 24 hours at minimum off from work. Read a book. Go for a walk. Do something that you enjoy. This will help your mental energy to recovery.

Chiropractic / Pain-Free Living – If you’ve experienced an injury, get help from a chiropractor or professional medical doctor. Chiropractic can help you to start the recovery process by stimulating your muscles and spine to “reset” after an injury.

Meditation, Prayer and Quiet – Take the time to be still. Get away from business and busyness. Get alone. If you’re spiritual, pray. Take some time to gather your thoughts and let your mind go quiet.

Signs your body NEEDS rest!

You may not always realize when you need help to rest. Here are a few signs to look for.

  1. You’re not sleeping enough.
  2. Your body is cramping.
  3. Your workouts or physical activities are harder.
  4. Your lips are cracked.
  5. Your appetite is off.
  6. You have nagging injuries that won’t recover.
  7. You’ve been under a lot of stress.
  8. You haven’t spent enough time doing what you love.
  9. You’re emotional and moody.
  10. Your heart rate seems high.
  11. You have trouble concentrating.
  12. You find yourself depressed and at low energy levels.

If any of those signs describe you, take a break! Schedule a getaway weekend! Go on vacation!

No matter what you do, pay close attention to your “signs” and take the time to rest when you need it.