Mental Health

Restorative Practices To Reclaim Your Energy

December 6, 2023

Are you ready to ditch diet culture?

Learn the Top ten ways diets hurt you

You'll also love

tell me more

I'm Michelle — health coach for women who want to escape diet culture and find the health they deserve.

Meet Michelle

In today’s fast-paced world, where the pressure to constantly achieve and perform is ever-present, the concept of rest often takes a back seat. It’s a societal narrative ingrained in us – the belief that we must always be pushing ourselves, striving for more, and that any inclination towards rest is synonymous with laziness. However, taking a step back and reevaluating our approach to rest might just be the key to unlocking a more balanced and fulfilled life.

Today, I’m sharing the insights of Meghan Johnston, a life coach and a restorative yoga teacher with over 12 years of experience in holistic wellness, space holding, and experiential learning. Meghan recently sat down with me to talk more about what restorative yoga is, the importance of balancing rest and activity, what healthy stress is for, and the “three P’s of energy”.

Seasons of Life: Understanding Natural Cycles

When we think about the four seasons that we live through, they each come with their own unique set of characteristics. There are moments of blooming, decay, winter’s rest, and the anticipation of planting seeds again. 

I think we do ourselves a disservice when we don’t acknowledge these natural cycles in our own way of living. It’s completely normal and human to have our moments of fall and winter and then to have our moments of planting seeds again. We’re not always going to be in the big, blooming, loud time of summer. We don’t always have to be in the high-energy, productive phase – it’s also important to embrace the quieter, more reflective times, and doing this is by no means a character flaw.

Honoring Our Bodies: Rebuilding Trust through Restorative Practices

One of the challenges we face is breaking trust with our bodies by not honoring our needs for rest and not paying attention to our energy. We live in a world where the self-help and personal development space often overemphasizes mindset, which leads to a disconnect from our bodies. A lot of us struggle with being present to what is happening in our own bodies and so the focus needs to shift towards being attentive to what our bodies are signaling.

Restorative yoga is a gentle practice which provides a valuable opportunity to rebuild your capacity for rest. It does things like strengthen the vagal tone, which is your ability to shift out of those moments of activation and come into a moment of rest and ease. 

Our bodies are constantly sending us messages, but in the rush of daily life, we often ignore or push through them. And so giving yourself permission to rest becomes a crucial skill in rebuilding trust with our bodies. Meghan reminds us that we don’t have to earn rest; we are worthy of it just as we are.

The Impact of Living in an Activated State

In the midst of societal pressures and the ever-present demands of modern life, we are living in a perpetual state of activation. The constant stimulation from phones, media, and increased work expectations are contributing to heightened stress levels, but it’s essential to recognize the impact of living in such an activated state on our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Depletion is not just about the physical; it extends to a heart-centered unrest. A lack of connection, meaning, and fulfillment can all contribute to feelings of depletion. Beyond the external stresses like workplace demands and boundaries, there’s an internal struggle stemming from a disconnect with our values and a yearning for meaningful connections.

Balancing Rest and Stress: Navigating Life’s Equilibrium

Stress can get such a bad rap, and of course, we know that there is a lot of unhealthy stress contributing to many negative health outcomes in our body. But stress in and of itself is not bad. And there are so many forms of healthy stress moving your body. The goal is never to just rest all of the time; the goal is to have both rest as well as these healthy forms of stress.

Sometimes we can get stuck in autopilot just moving through life and in doing that, we are not honoring our need for rest and we also aren’t honoring the need for those healthy forms of stress like moving your body. Moving your body could be a brilliant outlet for a lot of people and for other people it could be painting,volunteering, or many other things. But one of the reasons why I think there is a sense of unrest inside of us is because a lot of us are missing those kinds of healthy outlets. 

One of the other problems that comes with operating on autopilot is that we find at some point that we are not necessarily doing things that are aligned with our values or with our purpose in life. And that itself can be a form of unhealthy negative stress. When we’re going through motions without feeling that connection to something bigger, people need to take more time for themselves, that they need to move slower, and they need more space to think. 

But people often experience a lot of resistance to doing that because there is a fear of what is going to come up when they get quiet and still. One of the biggest reasons that we’re pushing rest and deep care away is because we’re afraid of what we’re going to hear if we actually listen to that whisper inside of us.

Getting quiet and still can bring up discomfort, but it’s a necessary part of the healing process. Addressing the resistance to rest requires a shift in mindset and it involves getting curious about what rest truly means for our bodies. It’s not merely about external activities like watching TV or reading; it’s about cultivating an internal state of relaxation. Rest is a muscle that needs strengthening, especially if we’ve been in a season of constant pushing.

The 3 P’s of energy

Understanding the three Ps of energy – presence, pacing, and priorities – is a guiding framework for maintaining a balanced life. Being present to our bodies, pacing ourselves in alignment with our energy levels, and setting clear priorities are essential components of managing our energy effectively.

We often struggle with having priorities as we’re not necessarily clear on the big questions like, ‘how is it that I really want to feel and what are the things that are going to help me feel that way?’ I think we get really focused on the more extrinsic goals like getting a promotion at work, having children, and buying a new house, that we lose sight of why that really matters to us. What is it that will be different about your life if you get that promotion?

Embracing Gentle Momentum: Creating Containers for Rest and Action

Many of us are familiar with the cycle of intense activity followed by periods of rest. This “all or nothing” mentality is a prevalent theme in our society, which often promotes the idea that rest hinders progress.

But momentum is not an all-encompassing force pushing us forward without pause. Instead, we need to start redefining it as a gentle, continuous movement that accommodates both rest and aligned action.

Regardless of the season – be it a time of winter and recovery or a period of heightened activity – there is room for both rest and progress. Even in moments of depletion, there is potential for small, intentional actions that foster a sense of accomplishment and well-being. Whether it’s gentle stretching, addressing overdue medical appointments, or tackling a list of pending tasks, these micro-actions, within a defined container, become a bridge between rest and progress.

Breaking free from the cycle involves intentional daily practices that strike a balance between self-care and responsibilities. For instance, allocating specific time slots for restful activities such as gentle stretching, journaling, or quiet reflection can be a great way to hold space for rest. Simultaneously, integrating short bursts of action, like addressing pending emails or bills, within a structured timeframe provides a sense of accomplishment without overwhelming the system.

Challenging the Notion of Laziness: Redefining Rest as a Biological Need

People sometimes use the word “lazy” to describe rest but as a society, we should be affirming that rest is a fundamental biological need and an essential part of the natural cycle of life. It’s important to normalize the fact that there are all of these different seasons of life and that after moments of intense activity, whether in the workplace or personal life, there is an inherent need for a slowdown, and a period of processing and recovery. Rest should not be viewed as a hindrance when it is such a vital component of our biological makeup.So let’s remember that embracing rest and renewal is not a sign of laziness, but a fundamental human need. It’s about recognizing the different seasons of life, understanding the delicate balance between rest and meaningful stress, and cultivating a compassionate relationship with ourselves. By incorporating restorative practices and aligning our actions with our values, we can break free from the cycle of depletion and embrace a more fulfilling and balanced life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *