I am most familiar with the concept of a rest day as it relates to exercise; don’t work the same muscle group on consecutive days and build in at least one day a week with little to no vigorous activity to let the body rest and heal. I used to completely ignore this advice. After all, if 5 days in the gym is good, then 7 is better, right? My younger body let me get away with that, but it has now decided to not be so forgiving. If I push too hard for too long without a respite, I get sick. Injured. Anxious. Irritable. Sleepless. And, the progress in the gym or on the running trails stops or even reverses. My body simply throws itself on the ground like a three year in the midst of tantrum and says, “I refuse to go any further.”
Without rest, that is.
The mind needs rest too. It’s protestations can be more subtle than the body’s: general malaise, feeling down, irritability, uncontrolled eating, trouble sleeping. All of those can be signs that you have been pushing too hard for loo long without a respite. Even when in crisis mode, it is critical to take a breather every now and again. Sometimes the most growth occurs when we back off a bit and simply take a rest day.