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Redefining Rest

We all must balance our work with rest. But what is rest? If you have a very physical job, rest can be found by sitting down. If you work by sitting at a computer much of the time, however, you may tire of sitting and in fact need to do something physically taxing as a form of rest. Rest is not always lying down or even necessarily doing less.

Whatever we are doing, whether it is sitting, standing, working or exercising, we are always using some of our parts differently than others. In other words, some of our parts are working while other parts are resting. If we continue working the same parts over and over, we can develop some over-use issues. Similarly, parts that rest too often can suffer from under-use ailments. The key is finding balance in using and resting all of our parts.

For me, my pregnancies were particular times of finding balance. They were times of greater discomfort, which was not eased by moving less. Sitting and lying down had their own discomforts. Therefore, I endeavored to keep moving and changing activities frequently in order to avoid using one set of parts for too long. It can be difficult sometimes, even when we are feeling aches and fatigue, to stop or change what we are doing. In my case, I have a hard time putting a task down while I'm in the middle of it. But the more we practice, even practicing something like rest, the better we become.

For example, I did a lot of gardening during my second pregnancy. I could do some weeding, then rest for a bit by pruning some things, then water for a while, dig some dirt, and return to weeding. I could carry a load of zucchini in my left hand, then rest by switching to my right hand. This way I kept "resting" by continuously changing the way I was using my body.

Even when we are being quite stationary, such as when working at a computer, we need to take breaks. In this case, however, "rest" looks a little different. Maybe instead of sitting, we stand. Or maybe we move from the chair down to the floor. Even though it isn't much movement, positional changes alter the angles of our hips, knees, and ankles. They change how our muscles are holding us up against gravity, and the way blood flows through our bodies. That adds up over time.

We all need rest, but the kind of rest we need looks different for each of us. Building in periodic breaks doesn't mean we have to stop accomplishing our tasks, and it will help maintain more balance in the long term.

(top image credit: @laurenhowlandphoto)

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