The single best thing you can do to protect your wellbeing

(2 min read)

I’m often struck by how much advice and choice there is out there today on all aspects of health and wellbeing.  From fitness magazines, to health websites, to personal training programmes, to gyms and health clubs, to spa deals, to diet and nutrition plans workshops and events.  It’s fantastic to see that our health and wellbeing is receiving the attention and focus it deserves.  And yet, I’m staggered by how few people emphasise the absolute number 1 priority in terms of physical and mental wellbeing.

If you’re not sure what this is, consider this simple question:

If you were to live with only small quantities of the minimum basic requirements for physical survival, what would impact you the most?

Lack of fluid?  Food?  Exercise?  Daylight and fresh air?  Of course, these are all relevant priorities, but no.

The thing we can survive the least time without, the single most important factor in good wellbeing is having adequate, good quality rest.  Sleep, relaxation, rest.

Good hydration I would say is second.  If you have ever suffered with sleep deprivation or insomnia, if you have ever had an ‘Up All-Nighter’ – be it work or social (- and yes, I’ve had a few in my time), then you will know this.  And yet there are precious few people advocating and guiding us to rest.  Why is that?  In our always-on, 24/7, hamster-wheel existence, the emphasis is on Having and Doing.  We live in an Experience culture: our existence, our status, our success is measured by the awesomeness of our achievements, marked primarily by the quality of our experiences.  There is little time for or focus upon rest.  At worst, a slower, more restful, relaxed lifestyle is viewed as lazy, a waste of life.  This is a falsehood; a delusion, as we would say in yoga.

And in my view, we have it completely back to front.  I believe and advocate that good quality rest, relaxation and sleep is the primary and most fundamental success factor for positive health and wellbeing.  Without rest we become tired and fatigued.  Our immunity is lowered and we become more susceptible to illness.  If we get ill, we are prone to secondary infections, are less responsive to medication and take longer to recover.  We are also more prone to physical injury.  At worst, fatigue develops into exhaustion or burnout.  Physical lethargy links to depression, whereby the mind responds to a state of overwhelm and shuts down to experience and emotion.  Essentially, our bodies and minds will always find a way of forcing us to stop and rest.

With this in mind, for the next few weeks, I shall be focusing on the theme of Rest & Relaxation, with a series of insights and free Hacks, to help guide you on slowing down, and resting well.

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