As we finish the holiday season and many people’s schedules start to fill up again, we are going to discuss an important topic: rest.
Now it’s important to recognize that rest does not just mean sleep or lounging on the couch, but rather all of the time you spend relaxing, taking breaks from work/chores/strenuous exercise, or just slowing down your body and mind.
Our goal is to combat both physical and mental stress and allow our bodies to recover from those. For a truck driver, we’re looking to aid the physical ailments from sitting and driving all day, shoulder issues from straps and tarps, and the mental ailments from the stress of scheduling, loneliness, traffic, mechanical issues and everything else that comes with the job.
Now, what happens when you don’t rest and recover regular or sufficiently? Physically, you may see the signs in your digestion, immune system, lymphatic system (ever notice a temporary swollen lymph node in your armpit area?), or anywhere in your body that you may be holding onto tension or knots, or not recovering from workouts in a reasonable time frame.
Mentally, you may feel exhausted, easily irritated, feeling burnt out, or possibly more sad, angry, anxious, or depressed than normal.
So let’s kick back, put our feet up, and dive into some rest and recovery strategies…
These tips will reduce the amount of physical and mental stress you experience.
Book any remaining vacation time you have for the rest of the year. Spend it however you choose, but try to get at least a bit of relaxation in there!
Say “no” to some invites or requests, or postpone them to a later date when you have less on the go.
Get outside and spend time in nature & the sunshine, especially before winter arrives. Whether you’re outside for 5 minutes or 5 hours, be sure to take some deep cleansing breaths!
Turn off and unsubscribe from the news. You likely follow more news stations and radio stations on social media than you need to.
Sleep 7-9 hours per 24 hour period when possible. When you can’t get a full night sleep, a nap or even 5 minutes of closing your eyes can help to restore you.
Don’t feel guilty for spending your time off on the couch, sleeping in, or lazing around once in a while. Try and plan these days off with a bit of downtime so that you can actually recharge.
Unsubscribe from email lists, which will free up your inbox and your mind
Put your phone on airplane mode for a couple of hours each day to help you disconnect from technology and the constant notifications
These will actively help your body and mind to recover from physical and mental stress.
Stretching: you know how great it feels to stand up and stretch after a long drive? Channel that feeling more often by stretching your whole body each day! If you’re interested in trying yoga, it can be an even better way to unwind and ease the tension in your body. Using a foam roller can be a great way to enhance recovery!
Meditation: no longer reserved for health nuts, meditation has become a widely used tool in controlling stress levels and altering how your body perceives stress. There are thousands of guided meditations on YouTube and apps like Insight Timer, or you can simply sit with your eyes closed for 5-30 minutes while focusing on your breath.
Saunas, steam rooms, and red light therapy are all fantastic methods of using light and heat to improve recovery and even aid in detoxification. Whether you purchase a unit for home use or use one at your local gym or spa, the benefits can be astounding.
Leisurely walks: have you seen the speed walking sport in the Olympics? That’s not what we’re going for here! Walk at a comfortable pace and enjoy the sights and sounds, breathing deeply throughout the walk.
Book a massage, chiropractic adjustment, physiotherapy, or osteopathic appointment. These treatments can help to support your nervous system, skeletal system, lymphatic system, fascia and tendons, and your muscles.
Improve your diet and take a break from processed foods and alcohol. This time of year this advice is especially helpful, since unhealthy foods and drinks becomes a major source of physical stress. Reducing these things can take some of the burden off of your liver and other organs and allow them to function at their best.
Now we should mention that this list is not exhaustive and you can absolutely incorporate many other types of rest and relaxation into your routine. As long as you try to stay consistent in adding some of these things in when things get hectic (or even when you don’t feel stressed), your body and mind will reap the benefits of reduced physical and mental stress levels!