Rest and digest: Why taking a step back is important

Stop, take a pause; your wellbeing matters

By Alisha Moopen

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram


Published: Wed 30 Nov 2022, 9:46 PM

A wise person once said, “Worrying will not ease the troubles of tomorrow, but will take away today’s peace.” Our nervous system has two primary aspects to it: The “fight” or “flight” response prepares our bodies for action while the “rest and digest” helps produce a state of equilibrium in the body. While “fight or flight” is great to combat short-term stress, it is important to figure out when to take a step back to “rest and digest”.

We live in a world where everyone and everything is rushed. So burdened are we with responsibilities while trying to fulfill different roles in life that our health and self-care takes a backseat. When it comes to self-care, it pays to take charge. It is not something that should be practised occasionally, or whenever we feel like “treating ourselves”. Self-care is essential to help build resilience and cope with stressful situations. Therefore, we can and should practise physical, mental and even social self-care.

Your happiness is essential in today’s world and your mental health a priority. Mental self-care looks different for everyone. One way we can all practise mental self-care is by taking time out for ourselves. That might mean saying no to someone or something and saying yes to a night in by yourself. Find something that you enjoy doing with your time and try to do that every day. Maybe by practising meditation or enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning while reading your favourite book. Whatever works for you, do it! Most importantly, do not feel selfish while practising mental self-care. It is way too important to feel any sort of guilt. If you practise your own self-care, you are going to be able to care for others even better.

Burnout, chronic fatigue, headaches, stress, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep and dehydration are just a few of the possible issues that can arise with a mindset that only focuses on productivity. Being tuned in to your body and mind can help you realise when something is out of balance. So, physical self-care is about making sure our basic needs are met. It is crucial to get enough sleep at night as sleep affects how we feel emotionally and physically. Studies show that seven hours of sound sleep is linked to better mental and physical health, especially in middle and old age.

It is also important we fuel our body in a healthy manner. What foods and drinks we consume affect us not only physically, but also how we feel. Good health starts from inside-out. A healthy skin is most often a reflection of your physical health, so it is important to make sure that you are taking care of the key areas by eating foods that are rich in Omega-3 and antioxidants.

Equally important is to add exercise into our self-care routine. We often don’t prioritise exercise until we are diagnosed as being overweight or we don’t optimise our diet until the doctor tells us that we have high cholesterol. Find something you enjoy doing and stick to it. A good way to relax and recharge is with yoga. Yoga is not only beneficial to overall fitness but has benefits that extend beyond the mat, such as helping develop mindful eating which benefits the heart by lowering blood pressure as well as controlling cholesterol and blood sugar.

Social self-care is also an important aspect of self-care. By socialising, you are keeping your mind active and engaged. But again, find the right balance for you.

So, take a moment now, let your heart brim with gratitude and let your mind re-energise. Enjoy the pause, it always leads to something better. In our busy lives, we have disconnected from nature. Spending time in nature can not only help us reconnect with our true selves, it can also have substantial health benefits. Research shows that a minimum of two hours per week spent in nature can improve your mental health, mood, emotions and overall wellbeing.

Over 150 years ago, people had a life span of 40 years. Now it’s gone upto approximately 80 years. By 2050, we estimate this to go up further to 120 years. We don’t want the first 40 years being smooth and full of vitality; we want the extended lifespan to translate to incredibly positive healthspan, where a majority of one’s life is spent with high level of body and mind functioning! This will truly improve our quality of living.

More news from Lifestyle