Three Strategies to Fight Fatigue!
Even if you consistently are able to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night, you might still wind up feeling fatigued throughout your day.
This is because the human body simply isn't designed to power ahead full speed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Moments of restoration are essential to your ability to live fully and healthfully. So between your long hours at work, family obligations, and dedicated gym time, here are the three types of downtime- AKA REST- you should prioritize each week:
1. PASSIVE REST: Passive rest is the kind of rest that makes most goal driven individuals feel like they're wasting their time: You basically just sit. Essentially, passive rest is time spent doing nothing. You could be laying down outside, relaxing on the coach, or daydreaming or reflecting on life. But the bottom line is that we need moments of decreased brain activity for purposes of recovery and restoration.
Researchers at the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California found that these passive moments, devoid of external stimulation, allow your brain to take a much needed break. These rest periods also allow your mind to access a so-called default mode of neural processing, which is critical for helping you to develop self-awareness, recall personal memories, make moral judgments, and give your life meaningful context.
Passive rest has never been more important than in this day and age either. We live in a time of constant stimulation, due to the ever present nature of modern technology. Unfortunately this technology (especially smart phones) keep the default mode largely suppressed.
Think about the last time you found yourself standing in a long line at the grocery store: Did you wait quietly with your thoughts, or did you pull out your phone and start scrolling social media? When you head to the bathroom to "do your business" do you sit there and stare at the ceiling? Or check your email? But by occasionally doing the former, and NOT reaching for your phone, you can improve your social-emotional wellbeing and your ability to focus.
HOW TO DO IT: Try to spend a few moments each day just sitting and relaxing. Don't watch TV, don't pull out your phone, don't surf the internet. Just sit quietly and allow yourself some time to relax. Start with maybe just 2-5 minutes, and work to increase it from there. If you find it hard to sit passively, try taking a long bath, or engage in a low-demand task like painting or journaling. 2. ACTIVE REST: Intense training undoubtedly improves your strength, fitness and body composition. But active rest, or active recovery is an essential component of your overall health and wellbeing as well. Active rest involves light exercises (often yoga, walking, jogging, swimming or cycling) that stimulate the recovery process without imposing undue stress on the body.
Basically this is easy movement that helps get blood moving, reduces residual fatigue in tired muscles and provides a much needed mental and physical break from the intensity of hard training sessions. This kind of light-activity rest can not only speed up your physical recovery but can also help control your stress and boost your mood.
A report from researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital found that people who incorporated light activity that they enjoyed were more likely to develop into what has been called “superagers,” which are individuals who maintain the cognitive functions of 20 or 30 year olds long into their old age.
HOW TO DO IT: Active recovery can take many forms depending upon your personal interests. Try going for a long walk outdoors and enjoying some fresh air. Or go for a bike ride, a swim, or try a yoga class. Even some stretching and time with a foam roller can be beneficial. As long as you incorporate some movement into your day and keep it easy and light, you'll be engaging in effective active rest. 3. SOCIAL REST: There is sufficient evidence throughout many avenues of research that supports the importance of social interaction for emotional, mental and even physical health. Social rest isn't rest FROM people, it's rest WITH people. Spending time being social isn’t slacking off; it’s a critical way to combat stress, ward off depression, improve your sleep, enhance brain function, and even prevent sickness.
A meta-analysis from Utah’s Brigham Young University concluded that a lack of socialization impacts human health in ways comparable to smoking and alcohol consumption. Essentially, it takes years off of your life. People with social relationships live 50% longer than those who are socially isolated. So if you don't schedule regular interactions with your friends, it's time to start.
HOW TO DO IT: Some people are naturally more social, others are not. Regardless, social interaction (person to person, not through the internet) is integral to your wellbeing. If you don't socialize much, try to at least meet up with friends or family you don't frequently see once or twice a month. It could be something as simple as grabbing lunch or coffee or doing some shopping together. If you don't have many friends or close family, then you'll need to actively begin to formulate new relationships to help improve your social health. Try joining a book club, taking a fitness class, a cooking class, even strive to meet and interact with others through volunteer outreach.