Why we need to Rest & Digest more…

In a flurry of excitement, we set off about our journey to a new healthier us. We make all the right dietary changes, we rid the cupboards of all the nasties and stock up with plenty of good stuff like fruits, veggies, wholegrain pasta, quinoa, rye bread, beans, lentils, oily fish, good olive oils, more fruits & veggies plus a few healthy treats. We might start a new exercise regime either pounding the roads, joining the gym, or attempt to get flexible at yoga. And while these are all really great steps towards a new healthier better you, one thing I see in all of my clients is that there is never enough focus enough energy on rest & digest.

I work with people to support them with physical and emotional relationship with food. When I talk about digestion, I am not always talking about the actual food you are eating. I encourage you to explore self-discovery. We need to let our body digest the hard week we just put in at the office, the tricky scenarios we had negotiating with our children, the physical stress that our body felt with all this exercise, the mental stress we felt thinking about all this healthy eating, the constant inner voice wondering if I am doing it right. How many of us sit down and switch IT off…I don’t mean the phone I mean your BRAIN…it needs a break and I for one know I am so guilty of not letting this guy have enough rest.

I work with people to support them with physical and emotional relationship with food.

When I talk about digestion, I am not always talking about the actual food you are eating. I encourage you to explore self-discovery. We need to let our body digest the hard week we just put in at the office, the tricky scenarios we had negotiating with our children, the physical stress that our body felt with all this exercise, the mental stress we felt thinking about all this healthy eating, the constant inner voice wondering if I am doing it right. How many of us sit down and switch IT off…I don’t mean the phone I mean your BRAIN…it needs a break and I for one know I am so guilty of not letting this guy have enough rest.

According to psychologist Sheldon Cohen during a review of the literature “stress is a contributing factor in human disease”1.  They claim that there are both biological and behavioural mechanisms that allow stress to play a role in the onset and progression of disease. We cannot always control or manipulate biology but the wonderful thing about  behaviour and what we now know about the brain is that we can alter how we do things. The researchers talk about how behaviours of poor sleep, exercise, eating habits and others are behaviours that matter in terms of your health. Did you know that as you sleep you are boosting your immunes system? Your body’s Natural Killer Cells, which prime your internal defence system love a good rest2. So you see its not just the food you eat, how you live is just as important for your overall health ad wellbeing.

The key to success in your health and wellbeing endeavours is creating a positive cycle of energy between these three areas…

Nourishment

Mental Activity

Restoration

Things you can do to support REST & DIGEST

  1. Commit to a regular sleep routine. Try to match the natural circadian rhythm of getting to bed around 10:30pm and waking at 6/7am. It takes a long time to settle into this pattern of sleeping and to reap the rewards but stick with it, its totally worth it.
  2. Chew your food. Does your tummy have teeth? I’ve found out mine doesn’t so I give it a hand, I chew my grub so my tum doesn’t have to STRESS about doing it…ideally I chew about 20-25 times but it takes practice and commitment to slow down. This supports digestion and your body will have a bit more time to REST before you ask it to DIGEST again.
  3. Take your rest days from exercise. At a minimum we should be doing 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 days a weeks. So that means 2 full days of rest. Enjoy your rest guilt free and nourish your body well to help it RECOVER from your activities and FLOURISH for your next training session.
  4. Engage in ANY activity that really relaxes you, that switches you right of. Many of us have such busy minds and we need to train that mind to slow down. We don’t have to be sitting and meditating we can go out for a walk, stop to look at the view, smell the flowers, taste the berries…see where the journey takes you!
  5. Appreciate yourself a little more and expect a little less!! One mega piece of advice I was given was to concentrate more on what I am doing and not on what others are doing. If we are constantly looking and comparing ourselves to others, our head and body never get the chance to digest all that we have done, achieved. WE are not BEING…

References:

  1. Carnegie Mellon University. “Stress Contributes To Range Of Chronic Diseases, Review Shows.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2007. 
  2. Wilder-Smith, A., Mustafa, F., Earnest, A., Gen, L. and MacAry, P., 2013. Impact of partial sleep deprivation on immune markers. Sleep Medicine, 14(10), pp.1031-1034.

Choose healthy habits over restriction everyday

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