Making Time for Mental Rest

We know that our bodies need rest and that sometimes further downtime and relaxation are required.

Our minds need the same rest but often we ‘switch off’ with further stimulus in the form of technology and media or tell ourselves we don’t have the time to relax because we have lost track of where are we putting our focus and so our minds seem to be always busy. When we zone out by zoning in on TV, social media, online videos and movies, not only do we often become unaware of the images and messages streaming into our subconscious but we miss out on vital rest time for our minds. When we take our every thought seriously and pile on more thinking, we are overwhelmed with the ‘busyness’ of our internal worlds and feel as if mental downtime is impossible for us.

Those people we come across who seem to live in a state of peace and tranquillity are often the ones who allow their minds quiet moments throughout their day. They meditate, they spend time in nature, they choose which thoughts they invest in, they live purposefully.

So, how can we do the same? Where in our day can we take moments to rest our minds and reside in the peace and space within?

First thing in the morning is the ideal time to take fifteen minutes for meditation. For those of us who don’t feel we can manage that, we can make a commitment to get to bed fifteen minutes earlier and add time to our mornings this way. We can always find excuses for not doing things but when we look out into the world, those who are most successful at living well are often those who manage their time efficiently. Meditation can be silent, simply allowing our thoughts to flow without following them or guided, listening to a voice that takes us through our time out. Even a good long relaxing stare counts. Daydreaming is a wonderful way of tuning out of our mental chatter and tuning in to the peace and space within.

Taking technology breaks throughout the day is another helpful way of resting the mind. We don’t need constant stimulus from screens and devices. Staying ‘connected’ is having the opposite effect on us as we instead feel a disconnect with our true state of calm and love. Spending just one day taking note of the time we spend scrolling on our phones, reading ever updating news online, watching YouTube videos and TV that aren’t necessarily healthy or helpful for us is extremely illuminating and the next day we can be more conscious of how we spend that time we seem to lose to these outlets.

Spending time in nature is proven to calm and relax us. Spending a few minutes a day enjoying a quiet nature spot will help our minds to slow down, if we let it and gift us some mental rest that allows us to be still within.

Having a bath is a great way of switching off and resting our minds. Relaxing our bodies can ease mental tension and busyness so having a soak, no matter how little time we spend, can help us decompress and melt into the moment.

Taking cues from our behavior and actions is a very simple way of knowing when we need some mental rest. If we are frazzled, discombobulated, aggressive, disrespectful, frustrated or insecure, we aren’t allowing enough quiet time in our minds throughout our day. Practising mindfulness is a helpful way to combat negative emotions as it allows us to focus on the present moment, present action and let other thoughts flow right past.

Making time for mental rest makes us more productive in the rest of our day. We are not designed to be ‘on’ all the time. When we aren’t being bombarded by media, constantly overthinking, exhausting ourselves so that we are unable to be fully present to our obligations, we are allowing ourselves to make the space we need to regroup and refresh so that we can be more efficient the rest of the time. Mental activity takes a lot of energy so it makes sense to spend time making sure that we stop to refuel.

Mental rest is imperative for our health, physically and psychologically. When we allow our minds to slow down, rest and relax, brain waves change, thought patterns change, different synapses are fired and our body chemistry changes. Our minds are powerful. They can create health or disease. They can create heaven or hell. They can help us or hinder us. Knowing these options are available and choosing to make the time and commitment to giving ourselves some mental rest throughout our day can be life changing for ourselves and those around us.

How we feel after a good sleep can be how we feel the majority of the time; if we can just commit to switching off from the world for a few minutes throughout our day we’ll get a richer and healthier experience of the rest of it.

Header image: Ice Floes, Claude Monet