Do you feel like you’re crawling towards the finish line? Counting down the days until you’re able to take a break? 

If so, you’re not alone. Many are feeling exhausted right now.

Yet we shouldn’t be starting our holidays feeling this way… Our time-off should be when we’re energised to have fun, celebrate and show up to loved ones in our best state!

We know however that this year is a different story. Few have taken annual leave, and stress has been heightened and prolonged. The holiday break couldn’t have come soon enough for those needing some guilt-free time to recharge.

But so we don’t push ourselves to the brink of burn-out in the future, we need to be prioritising rest and recovery into our days.

Why do we need to rest and recover?

To some, rest is viewed as unproductive, inefficient or even lazy, when in actual fact the opposite is true.

Rest is the key to us being able to perform at our optimum. Pro-athletes know this, and recovery forms a big part of their training programs. Rest helps restore our energy so we can get back to our activities with a full battery. And is also a preventative measure that can stop us from breaking down.

Additionally, research shows that rest encourages us to think and innovate, and increases our productivity so it’s a huge benefit to our work.

When our brain is in a resting state, it’s still active and might be thinking through problems, coming up with solutions or looking for new information. Taking breaks also helps us to learn better and faster.

So rest and recovery are essential ingredients for us to feel good and function well.

So how much rest and recovery do we need?

According to Drs. Emily and Amelia Nagoski, ten hours each day should be focused on rest and recovery to keep our systems in full working order.

That’s 42% of our time, and equates to approximately eight hours of sleep and two hours of non-sleep relaxation time. But you may be someone that needs more or less…

We operate best when we move between effort and rest, and back again. So it’s not something to prioritise a few times a year but something we should be doing regularly throughout our days. 

We’re not saying you should take 42% of your time to rest; we’re saying if you don’t take the 42%, the 42% will take you. It will grab you by the face, shove you to the ground, put its foot on your chest, and declare itself the victory

Drs. Emily and Amelia Nagoski

What supports us to rest and recover?

When it comes to rest and recovery, most of us automatically think of sleep. And of course sleep plays a big part in it. Yet there are a number of other activities that we can do to re-energise. 

Typically anything that allows you to switch off a part of your body that has been over-used is an activity that helps you rest and recover.

So you could try:

  • Practising Mindfulness – this can include meditation, breathing activities, colouring and even eating mindfully.
  • Connecting with others – look for opportunities to regularly catch-up with those you love and those that energise you.
  • Hobbies – this can be any activity that you enjoy doing that allows your brain to switch off like colouring, gardening, doing puzzles or a Sudoku, playing music, listening to podcasts, reading etc.
  • Exercise – this can be a big-energy booster and it’s best to regularly mix up what you do e.g., running, walking, swimming, yoga, pilates etc. Personally I like to combine this with point 2 – so I’m getting a 2-for-1 rest and recovery hit!
  • Lying down and doing absolutely nothing.

The aim is to test these out and determine which work best for you!

How can you make rest and recovery a priority going forward?

Rest and recovery is not just a nice-to-have. If you want to thrive, down-time should be taken seriously and considered essential.

It should become a regular habit in your day just like brushing your teeth. For some, it will need to be planned, tracked, refined and enforced.

Like any change, starting small and specific, will help you succeed, grow your confidence and boost your motivation to continue. Also try and give yourself a prompt, which will remind your brain to take action. This may be in the form of a particular time of day, location or when with a certain individual. You will be rewarded with how good you feel.

So how will you add a little more rest and recovery into your day?