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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Story…Recharge, Re-energize, and Restore
We are often, in our modern world, faced with images of the un-stoppable force. The “energizer bunny’ keeps on going and going and going.   We value the player who never quits, never gives up. The one who shows up before everyone else and stays after everyone else has gone. The image of the lone athlete shooting foul shot after foul shot long into the dark is almost an icon in this culture. One of the sayings I know I have espoused frequently goes like this: You can rest when you are dead.
In the triumvirate of optimum health and fitness probably the least emphasis is placed on the rest leg. We talk a lot about exercise…how to work out, when to work out, the benefits of working out. We spend even more time on the food and nutrition leg. This is the one place all of us can easily control yet many of us have the hardest time with. Plus there are so many myths and legends that surround food it is ridiculous. Not to mention the emotional component so many of us struggle with around food.   The rest leg really gets the short end of the stick. We just kind of take it for granted…go to bed and go to sleep, get up in the morning. Simple right?
In reality the rest leg of the recipe may be the hardest for many of us to manage. Especially if you are a type A, highly driven individual…competitive and goal oriented. You don’t know anyone like that do you (me!)? I really hate to rest. I really hate to slow down and admit that I need to rest. And the truth of it is that I really need to slow down and rest.
Part of this is the sleep factor. Getting a deep restful restorative sleep is critical to the equation. If you aren’t sleeping well it is hard to be really energized and upbeat. As a matter of fact you are more likely to be depressed and critical (a fancy way of saying cranky!) if you do not sleep well. And the answer is not chemical sleep aids. There are so many other things to work on…things like exercise and nutrition. The other two legs help immensely with this one you know! The whole sleep thing is manageable…sleep in a dark room, keep the temperature cool, a bit of fresh air will help,  wear socks, get up at the same time every morning, don’t eat a heavy meal before retiring, limit any stimulation before bed (horror movies, reading intense literature), limit fluid intake. All these things will help your sleep be more restful and complete.
Another large part of the rest and relaxation leg is the management of stress. Stress kills ladies and gentlemen.    Stress will keep you up at night. Stress will affect how you digest your food…or if you digest your food. Stress can create heart disease, stroke and a myriad of other health concerns. And stress is created in your mind. You are the progenitor of your stress. Yes bad stuff is going to happen. Yes bad stuff might happen. It is how you deal with the stuff happening or not happening that dictates the stress level you experience. Being an optimist definitely helps reduce stress.   Train yourself to see the glass as half full. Expect good things to happen. Have a positive mental attitude. These things are all trainable. You can “fake it until you make it”. It is a practice just like the opposite side is. It just maybe that being depressed, sad, and negative is easier or more popular in some circles (not mine!).
Meditation is also a very useful tool in both managing stress and getting your batteries re-charged. Sitting quietly for 15 or 20 minutes a day will do wonders for your mental outlook. This too is a practice. You must work at it, especially in the beginning. In the beginning it will seem like your mind is going a million miles an hour. This monkey mind is actually going on all the time. But you don’t notice it because you have so many other things happening. The monkey mind is the natural state…you may also notice it when you are trying to sleep. Your thoughts keep careening around like billiard balls on the break…back and forth , here and there, one thing to the next. Meditation will help put some of that to bed. Training your mind is like training your body…it takes effort and practice.
The other part of recharge, restore and re-vitalize is to take a vacation. This is a place where I am seriously challenged. By vacation I mean the kind where you have no agenda, no plan other than to just get away and relax. Change your routine entirely. Take 3 or 4 days off from working out and training. You won’t go backwards in 3 or 4 days. You won’t lose a bit of fitness in those days and you might even allow your body to heal some of those nagging little injuries. Your mind will relax and even expand. Your body will begin to heal itself. Your emotional aspect will calm down and you will stop some of the mental chatter that is not so nice. Your energy will rebuild and restore itself. You could do this in just 3 days if that was all you had. Take a load of your mind, off your body and off your spirit by doing nothing at all. Get out of town so you don’t mow the lawn or do your home chores or just go into the office for a few minutes. Just get gone for a short period and you might be amazed.
Guess what? Today is Sunday and it is the middle of a three day weekend...a weekend where you could be resting, restoring and re-energizing your life. It’s still not too late to go. Do it now! Go!

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