Rest and Relaxation: Why It’s So Important and How To Get Started

The other day in one of my college classes, we watched a movie about how to be happy. The movie was literally called “Happy.” Honestly, I hated the movie and I thought it was a load of garbage, but it got me thinking: why would someone take the time and money to make a movie to teach other people how to be happy? And more importantly, why would someone else not watch this movie if they weren’t forced to in a college class?

The answer is, we all want to be happy. That is why we look for happiness at every corner, and read books on it, and watch shows about it. Happiness is very important to feel mentally and physically healthy. So, I would like to talk about something that I think will make everyone a little happier: a little rest and relaxation.

I personally believe that rest and relaxation is just as important as work. In Western culture, relaxation is practically considered a “luxury.” We have glorified being busy with “side jobs” and “side hustles.” In fact, having Sunday off with the family is an old and antiquated tradition. Even during Christmas, companies barely give time off to their employees. Even the poor delivery men have to work on Saturdays and Sundays during the month of December! If you think about it, it is really sad how little time the average working person has to spend by themselves or with their families. These people are in definite need of some rest.

But why rest? Well, having a day to rest and recuperate is proven to give you more energy, make you healthier physically, and improve your mental health. Even bodybuilders know the importance of a day of rest for their muscles to heal. Resting is very important. If we don’t rest, it leads to health complications, stress and anxiety, and physical exhaustion, not to mention a strain in our relationships with our families. Therefore, resting is needed so you feel less exhausted at your job the next week. Resting also helps you to maintain healthy relationships, and preserve good physical and mental health.

That being said, I believe it is very important to take a day of rest. If you already observe a rest day, that’s great! If you aren’t used to this concept, here are a few ways to get yourself started:

Take Only One Rest Day

When I say this, I really mean it. Resting is important, however too much of it is also a bad thing. Too much rest leads to laziness, unhealthiness, sleeplessness, and malaise. I personally believe the most effective way to have and enjoy a rest day is to work hard throughout the week and take just one day to relax and recoup.

Your Rest Day Can Be Any Day of the Week

Right now, my rest day is every Friday. That may change in the future, and I have no problem with that. I used to rest on Mondays, and then it switched to Wednesdays, and now it’s Fridays. No matter what day you choose to rest on, just make sure it’s a day that you don’t have to work, don’t have homework or errands to run, or don’t have any appointments scheduled.

Don’t Do Anything Stressful on Your Day of Rest

I do my best to make sure my day of rest is as stress-free as possible. This means no homework, no appointments, no unnecessary work. Get all of these things done beforehand. Like I said earlier, work hard throughout the week, and make sure to do all the shopping, chores, and work beforehand so you can take a proper day to relax.

Do Fun Things!

A lot of people believe that a day of rest means to sleep all day on Sunday and not go out or do anything fun. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Your day of rest is about you recuperating so you can be fully functional for the next week of work. Oftentimes, I try to schedule time with family and friends on my Friday rest day, because that is something that is very enjoyable and relaxing for me. Therefore, if you recuperate by hanging out with friends and playing games, then by all means, do that. If you recuperate more by sleeping in and having a lazy day, or working on hobbies, then do that instead. Your day of rest is for you to mentally and physically slow down, so do things you enjoy the most and aren’t work for you.

Try To Take Your Rest Day on a Different Day Than Your Spouse’s or Kids’ Rest Day

I know this one isn’t always possible, but if you can, try to take your rest day on a different day than your spouse’s or kid’s rest days. The reason I say this is because oftentimes, our kid’s and spouse’s interests don’t jive with our interests. For example, as much as I would enjoy sitting around watching Little House on the Prairie on my rest day, drinking coffee and cuddling next to a space heater, that just isn’t going to cut it for my husband. In fact, that would probably stress him out even more if that were his day of rest.

In the opposite sense, my husband enjoys playing board games and having a group of buddies over for his day of rest. However, I don’t find this situation particularly restful, and would never choose it on my day of rest. Therefore, it’s important to try to take your day of rest on a different day than your spouse’s. In a similar sense, if your kids are home from school on a snow day, maybe it’s better to prioritize your little ones rather than worry about taking a rest day for yourself. My point is, try to make your day of relaxation specifically for you. That way, you will better be able to help your spouse and kids and enjoy their days of rest when you aren’t trying to worry about yours as well.

Enjoy Yourself

The main reason for taking a rest day is to recoup. This means not worrying about your step goals on your Fitbit or going to the gym (unless of course that’s an enjoyable hobby) or stressing about your grades in a certain class. It’s about relaxing. So make sure to relax, and don’t be stressed about relaxing. It’s a healthy habit to practice.

In conclusion, here is my challenge for you: work as hard as you can throughout the work week, and then try to observe a rest day that is fully your own. Do a rest day one day a week for a month. Even if it impossible for you to have a full day, maybe try to observe a half day of relaxation. See how you feel physically and mentally at the end of the month. I guarantee that you will want to continue having rest days. In the long term, you will feel better physically, mentally, and will be happier overall.

Thank you everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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