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How do you know when it's time to rest?

The days are getting shorter, there’s a nip in the air. When we look to nature, autumn is a time for harvesting our bounty from summer, and letting go of what we no longer need in readiness to hibernate during the cooler months.

But for many of us frantically trying to keep up in the 21st century with the demands of work and social relationships, we ignore or fight consciously against this natural process. I know I used to, and still struggle with the realisation that my body simply isn’t made to exercise, socialise or even just be out of the house to the same extent through the wintertime.

But how do you know that it is, in fact, time to rest? Well, an excellent indicator is that you’re always tired, and feel like you can’t catch up. Other signals your body needs time to recuperate are that you’re snappy towards others, find yourself stressed rather than enjoying social interactions, that you’re craving more coffee. Bringing more mindfulness into your everyday life will improve your ability to notice these feelings. I remember the light bulb moment I experienced when I realised that the mid-afternoon feeling of ‘gee I need a coffee’ was the exact same feeling of ‘Meg, you need a lie down!’

Once you make the decision to make relaxation a part of your reality, how do you begin to build it into every day life? Well, slowly does it.

You might like to start by turning your home into a more restful space by harvesting beautiful things to place there, and making space by culling and letting go of items you no longer need.

Next, think about when you will try to build in a short period of rest so you can lie down, let go, and take a break. Are you able to spend five minutes during your lunch at work lying down under your desk? What about trying to catch yourself as soon as you arrive home at the end of the working day and let go before carrying on with cooking dinner and the evening duties? In spite of the mountain of tasks waiting to be done, can you rest for a short time as soon as your kids go to sleep before starting up again? Or can you snatch a moment in the evening before bed to lie down and consciously let go?

Whatever the time you decide, it can be helpful to schedule the rest into your diary. If the idea of lying down full stop is stressful, maybe try choosing a favourite song to listen to as you rest to help you get started. And even if you only rest for five minutes, even if your mind is active the whole time, even if it feels silly, stick with it and allow your body the time to rejuvenate and heal. Once it’s time to get up again, notice how your body feels. Be gentle if you feel even more exhausted, and know that all it means is you will probably need to rest more and more until, before too long, you’ll find you’re more productive after resting than if you had never stopped in the first place. And your students will only thank you for it. xx

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