What Deep Rest Looks Like And How To Get There in 4 Ways

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deep rest

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What is Deep Rest?

We live in an increasingly crazy world and many of us are stuck on the hamster wheel of work, work and work. Raise your hand if you have too much to do and not enough hours in the day, everyday? Does your need for rest and healing take the backseat of all of your other plans, obligations and choices? The truth is, many of us discovered just how over-scheduled we were when COVID hit the planet, and some of us were trying to slow down even before that.

The reality is, many of us need some deep rest, but it’s especially helpful for those who have a chronic level of pain and discomfort, as many of us with endo experience. In fact, a research study found that stressing rats out caused an increase in their inflammation but also increased their endometriosis lesions. (2) Yikes!!

Stress

Most people in America have a good deal of stress to handle. In most Asian countries, the word stress translates a bit differently since there is not a close translation. The closest reality in TCM is something called Liver Qi stagnation and usually it is caused by “unfulfilled desires.” The common symptoms of both include contracted blood vessels, tight muscles and a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system. (1)

Whatever the name or the cause, the effect is real. The stress in our lives might have fueled our hormone imbalances, genetic predispositions, poor circulation and poor digestion. Or, even vice versa. We may be unaware of the stress in our lives, used to feeling tired and complacent about making changes. The point is to step back and start making deliberate changes.

In fact, for those who have experienced adverse childhood experiences (66% of people), their particular stress response is more likely to be worse off than those who have not experienced these same adverse childhood experiences. Author and MD Nadine Burke Harris breaks this down in her book The Deepest Well. (This book opened my eyes to a lot of good information and I recommend it to everyone.)

Run your own race

When you have health issues that can make you feel run down, inflamed, cursed blessed in a strange way, in at times excruciating pain, and overwhelmed by the suspected diagnosis that could inhibit your ability to have children, it can take a lot out of a person.

And that’s why you have to run your own race. For me, this was the kick in the pants I needed to really soul search and discover what was most important in my own life. Not the life some other person thought I should be living. What does deep rest have to do with running your own race?

Steps to step-off the stress cycle towards more peace

There are several areas to keep in mind as you go about getting into the mindset of resting deeply, releasing stress productively and getting a pleasant flow back into your life.

Sleep

It’s easy to tell someone to get a good night’s sleep, but if you have sleeping difficulty such as insomnia or don’t feel rested upon waking, it can be frustrating. It can cause more stress. For some people, they really just need to get into a better bedtime routine. Say, go to bed every night at 10:00 p.m. and wake up at 6:00 a.m. For those of you who are laughing right now because this schedule is truly impossible, then give yourself a break until you are able to better prioritize your sleep. You might simply need to focus on something else right now to get through – children, jobs, side-hustles, long commutes; whatever the reason, don’t stress if you can’t keep a sleep schedule, but do realize this is part of the reason why you have symptoms of being unwell.

Sleep is when our body repairs, restores and detoxifies itself. Sleep is when we process the positive and negative things that happened that day.

  • Keep a sleep schedule
  • Skip the caffeine (at least by Noon)
  • Unwind by stretching, prayer or meditation or journaling before bed to calm down
  • Skip the blue lights by wearing blue-light blocking glasses or eliminating nighttime use of the screen

Mindfulness in Life Planning

There are also non sleep deep rest protocols that can help you feel like your old self again.

One of the things that makes life so stressful at times are circumstances, people or things that are beyond our control. It’s a bummer and nothing can change some things. But when we fight against what we cannot change, we invite more stress into our lives.

While I’m not recommending you go all control-freak on this one, start by recognizing what you can control and start to make plans over what you can positively do to impact you life.

Here are some simple guidelines to get you started:

  • Make a list of your problem. Then, write down 15 things you can do to help yourself.
  • Write down three statements about what you cannot change right now that is causing you grief/angst/despair. Then write about how you would prefer to think about your situation(s).
  • Write out a list of 30 things you would love to have happen or do in the next 90 days. Pick one and do it within 5 days.

Also, be aware of those people who try to force their agenda on you. Pushy people have a deep need for recognition and attention and nothing will zap your energy like an overbearing soul.

Meditation

What is non sleep deep rest? It is a deep rest concept that peace and rejuvenation can come into our lives in many forms. Meditation is a practice that allows for our mind to connect to our spiritual side. Meditation is like filling our mind with good things and resting in them for a bit. It is a time to put aside our fears, or to confront them head on, in a space of love and kindness. Sometime it can involve being in a place of beauty and allowing our souls to take it all in. A lot can be said on this topic, but at the very minimum, it can help to calm you down and connect with your spiritual side.

Spend Time in Nature (aka Green Bathing)

I love going on a camping trip and spending the entire time outside in nature. There’s something freeing about falling asleep at nightfall to the breeze, and waking up to the social calls of the early rising birds. In fact, medical doctors also note physical healing properties of being outside in nature. Franklin B. Hough a medical doctor reported in US medical journals of the positive sanguine and calming influence that nature has on the weary mind. It’s worth taking note and making deliberate time for spending out-of-doors.

The term green-bathing actually arose in 1982 from the Forest Agency of the Japanese government via a program called shinrin-yoku. Shinrin means bathing in, or basking in and yoku in this case means nature. So, the art of basking in nature. The Japanese government encouraged its citizens to spend time in the many beautiful places found throughout Japan. Over time, researchers from over 12 studies concluded that time spent in nature had the effects of lowering cortisol, blood pressure, and pulse rate. (1)

Spending time in nature consistently, or for long periods of time seems to also play a role in increasing the function of the immune system. For those of us with endometriosis, immune system alterations seem to crop us leaving us feeling tired and easy to catch colds. Spending time relaxing in nature is an important way for us to heal of stress, inflammation and to add balance to our lives.

Healthy Relationships/Exercise/Nutrition

What do these components have to do with deep rest? In The Deepest Well, Burke Harris mentions that sleep, exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, mental health and healthy relationships were very important in managing stress, as she saw in her research with people who experienced adverse childhood experiences.

She found that people having health in these areas were more likely to help their neuro-endocrine-immune system work functionally. The neuro-endocrine-immune system is something that can be commonly dysregulated in endometriosis especially since science is now backing up that it has immune system dysregulation components. So, even if you did not have adverse childhood experiences any super stressful life experience could potentially provide the trigger for your body to struggle. If you did experience adverse childhood experiences it is really helpful to have Burke Harris’ work shine the light on this issue and ways to help yourself.

So, keep this in mind as you consider your deep rest routines.

Conclusion

While deep rest may sound like a fancy way of saying ‘get more sleep,’ it’s much more than just getting sleep. It’s about helping your body calm down, blow off some steam, and truly rejuvenate. We were meant to flourish – let’s give ourselves the chance to do so!

So go ahead, plan your next retreat, your next vacation, your next stay-cation and begin to reap the rewards of preparing your body for a whole new way of living! What ways do you help your body maintain rest?

If you’re interested in how to help your body further, you might want to check out my post here about healing your digestion, which can also play a role in the body’s ability to rest deeply and de-stress, or my post here about healing herbal teas.

deep rest

Sources

(1) “Your Brain on Nature: Forest Bathing and Reduced Stress – Mother Earth News.” Mother Earth News – The Original Guide To Living Wisely, 7 Jan. 2013, https://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/forest-bathing-ze0z1301zgar/.

(2) Cuevas M;Cruz ML;Ramirez AE;Flores I;Thompson KJ;Bayona M;Vernon MW;Appleyard CB; “Stress during Development of Experimental Endometriosis Influences Nerve Growth and Disease Progression.” Reproductive Sciences (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29108503/.

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