Why take a REST day?
The past two weeks I have been trying to find a new routine. We recently moved into our little blue (fixer-upper) house and while this has been awesome- it also means trying to navigate a new routine.
There are some of us that thrive on schedules, timetables, and regularity. Okay, Okay- guilty as charged. I happen to be one of them. Routine provides a sense of comfort for me in a lot of ways. In others it can become a control mechanism, especially surrounding exercise.
I used to think that I HAD to exercise each day and rarely took a rest day. A lot of this was surrounding inner anxiety with my health and using exercise to try to manipulate my body. I didn't have control over things with my health, so I gripped tightly to the control of exercise. If I didn’t do a workout first thing in the morning, I would feel anxious. I never allowed myself to have a slow morning, sip coffee, and just HANG. I would jump right outta bed and even if I was dog-tired, sore, or even sick, and I would push myself to get to the gym.
Not giving ourselves a rest day (or SEVERAL) can lead to high cortisol levels, injury, hormonal imbalances and chronic inflammation. It also means that we are often missing out on morning experiences (snuggles, a morning stroll, conversation over coffee) because we feel like we SHOULD be exercising. I used to think a rest day was doing a hot yoga class, or going for a hike because it wasn’t “in the gym.” I was trying to pull the wool over my own eyes. Then I started actually listening to my body and what she needed.
How did I break free from the unhealthy “SHOULDS” and allow for a rest day? Well… it started with making it a priority, and gently reminding myself- this is exactly what my body needs. Heck- use science if you have to. Your muscles need a rest day, and you don’t want to create a spike in your stress hormones, leading to unnecessary weight gain or even a plateau in your health goals.
It also looks like checking in with my body each day. Ask yourself: How am I feeling? How will this serve me? Some days a slow walk or a 15 minute home yoga practice is 100% what I need. It is being flexible and allowing yourself to CHANGE. YOUR. PLAN. You heard me, as the girl who likes to plan for plans- I’m doing it, and so can you!
There is freedom in rest days where you can go to the coffee shop with a friend, or make a yummy breakfast at home. Rest days used to be something I associated with guilt---now I look forward to them, and boy does it feel good! Don’t get me wrong I still love a good sweat and get to the gym, but now my workouts are more productive and I am focusing on building strength.
So I challenge you to truly take a rest day- (don’t sign up for that class tomorrow, don’t set your alarm, and resist the urge to plan). Your body (and mind) will thank you!
Do you take a rest day? What are your favorite things to do?