Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

The Importance of Rest and Relaxation

Katelyn Zachary

Every day we hustle - work, projects, family or exercise. It can be hard to balance life’s demands and get enough rest and relaxation. In fact, what is this elusive “me time”? We know how important it is to take care of your body, but taking care of your mind is equally important. Rest and relaxation will help you perform at your optimal level and enjoy life more! Yes, rest and relaxation require a good portion of your time, but it’s worth it.

Rest

Getting the right amount of quality sleep each night helps you learn and process memories. Sleep also helps to restore your body’s energy, repair muscle tissue and triggers the release of hormones that affect growth and appetite.

For adults, 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended per night. However, the quality of sleep also matters. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is the most restorative of the five cycles of sleep and should account for one-fourth of the time spent asleep.

Tips for Getting a Good Night of Sleep

  1. Avoid stimulants in the evening (i.e. caffeine).
  2. Set a wake and sleep schedule.
  3. Avoid afternoon naps.
  4. Try to avoid TV and cell phone use at least an hour before bed.

Positive Effects of Good Sleep

  • Learning and memory: Sleep is when we commit new information to memory.
  • Metabolism and weight: Sleep deprivation alters hormone levels that affect appetite.
  • Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience and the inability to concentrate.
  • Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function which can lead to a higher risk of infection and disease.

Relaxation

Making time in your schedule to unwind is an important part of maintaining good health. Deep relaxation helps to improve stress, anxiety and mood. It can also help to decrease blood pressure, heart rate and pain. How? When you are relaxing, your body releases “feel-good” hormones: serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. These reduce blood pressure and heart rate. What does this mean for you? Take time every single day to do something that makes you smile. Pet a dog. Hold a baby. Read a good book. Laugh at a few cat videos - just not before bed. We talked about this.

Advice from your body

  • Stress injuries are my way of telling you to chill out. I need a break.
  • You are not superhuman. Not making time to rest and relax is a surefire way to run me into the ground.
  • “Staycations” exist. You don’t have to plan an elaborate vacation to take a break.

Simply put, rest and relaxation restore and revitalize your body. They help us to be focused, happy and effective at what we do. So, the next time you reach for your phone late at night or stay up late to complete a task, think again. It’s better to take a break before your body needs it. Now go get some rest, and tackle your week!

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