Constructive rest is a tonic without the negative affects of the gin and something you can most definitely be daily dosing yourself with, and unlike a daily dose of gin and tonic the results keep getting better and better.
The benefits of constructive rest are far reaching and could apply to all areas of our lives; sleep, relationships, performance, recovery, stress management, chronic pain and the list goes on.
Many times people go to bed exhausted, they've taken in a huge amount of information and sensory input, had to be ON all day long and haven't switched on their off switch for even a few minutes. People often mistakenly think they have wound down and switched off but there is a physiological difference between using gin and tonic and using something like meditation, constructive rest or conscious relaxation.
The effects of constructive rest when you make it a nonnegotiable self care habit add up and unfortunately the flip side of not doing any form of down regulating add up too! I often like to think of it as a cleansing ritual to clear the remnants of the day away, who wants all that gunk to add up over a lifetime? The great thing about a regular practice is the more you practice the more your brain has a positive association with it and it's then quicker and easier to access relaxation.
Many people wrongly assume they can get all the rest and recovery they need when they go to sleep but if you are a teeth grinder, sleep walker, have sleep apnea or wake up feeling groggy and having to press snooze one too many times they are all proof that any unresolved stress or tension is still present as you sleep and you may not be getting good quality sleep.
Regular practice of constructive rest can go a long way in releasing some of the stuck stress that can get caught up in our soft tissues, naturally sedating and tranquilising our nervous systems into a deep state of rest and therefore having a beneficial affect on every single system in your body.
All you have to do is set at least 3-5 minutes aside, 10-15 minutes is better, 20 minutes is ideal especially if you're recovering from sickness, feeling run down or have a lot of physical, mental or emotional distress in your life. If you don't have longer periods of time please don't avoid doing it, frequency is more important than duration in my opinion and starting off with shorter amounts of time makes it more realistic and if it's more realistic you can make space for it in your life.
Lay down onto your back, knees bent, feet flat on the ground, if you're staying for a longer duration a pillow or support under the knees is beneficial, a small towel under the head to lengthen the back of the neck and either place your hands on to your abdomen or by your sides with your palms facing up. Close your eyes, begin to sense inward and focus your attention on to your breath. Allow your breath to be natural, easy and free and welcome a sense of lengthening and slowing down of the breath. Allow the exhalations to become slightly longer or twice as long as your inhales for a truly sedating quality in your body/mind. Welcome a sense of allowance and know that this is constructive, by coming into stillness in your physical body you are enhancing the function of all of the other systems in your body. Stay for as long as you can and when emerging roll on to your side and pause and savour before coming up to seated.
Advanced clinical massage therapist and yoga teacher.