Why Rest Days Matter

I came across something interesting at my gym the other day about a new way to rest.

Mixed in with the normal classes such as “Bad Ass”, “Drum and Bass Yoga” and “Drill Sergeant” (I’ll leave you to imagine all of those for yourselves), I saw a new one called “Cocoon”.

This stood out to me, as it was a class with a name that didn’t include a reference to violence, the military or a play on words about certain body parts (more on this another time). On further investigation, there is a reason for this. This class is a guided meditation session over 45 minutes while lying in a hammock.

Two things immediately came to mind when I read this:

  • Sign me up. Now. Please.
  • Isn’t it strange that a gym is now catering to the restful side of our lifestyle as well as the active side?

I did some research into whether my gym was the only place to offer something similar to this, and in fact, it seems that all of London has adopted this more caring attitude to our well-being. Besides the of course more traditional yoga classes, most gyms here now include classes focusing on relaxation or deep stretching.

Rest days for your muscles are just as important as exercise days.

These classes give us the opportunity to still get out and go to the gym but not totally destroy ourselves at the same time; we all have days when our body (and perhaps more importantly our mind) is telling us to take it easy.

It seems clear that our lives these days are a maelstrom of noise, stress and smoke. London is not a big city in relative terms, but it has a tremendous amount of people living within it. Our streets and systems were not designed for the amount of feet and wheels that run through them on a daily basis, and living here, particularly in the winter months (September to June) can start to get a bit depressing. A mixture of short days, long nights and a basic lack of Vitamin D leave us all in need of some mental refreshment.

Now, of course I’m exaggerating the actual stresses of living in London; in fact, my cousins in New York tell me that its much more hectic there, but talk to anyone of an older generation, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and they will tell you that the stresses of life have increased exponentially since they were hacking and slacking it in their 20s and 30s.

These days, we never switch off.

France had to pass a law that makes answering work emails sent after 6pm non-compulsory just to get their citizens away from the daily grind. I frequently see people in gym classes with me who are checking their phones in the middle of an 8 minute amRAP. Wherever we are, technology, light, noise, chaos follows us, and it is becoming harder and harder for us to find ways to break out of this bubble.

You may know people whose families have houses outside of cities, where they can retreat to and get away from it all. But the reality is that most of us are stuck in the city, with our only countryside being a concrete one.

It is therefore no surprise that we need to focus on our mental well-being when we go to the gym.

What is so terrifying, however, is that we need to go to the gym just to relax and get away from the chaos of our lives. It used to be that, once you got home, you could switch off, relax and balance your life in that way. These days, we are finding it harder and harder to find that balance. We take our phones everywhere, we take our work everywhere, we take our lives everywhere, and at no point do we ever stop to take a minute and think about our actual wellbeing. In fact, we have neglected it for so long that gyms are having to provide us with classes that cater to our need for a balanced lifestyle.

I think we all need to have a bit of a reality check.

We tend to feel as if we are doing something wrong if we find ourselves doing nothing in the present world, but sometimes you really need that in life. Leave your phone alone for an hour, turn off your computer (in between reading UNDO of course), don’t watch your TV, and instead go for a walk or sit in a park and look and be aware of everything around you.

The world is full of incredible things happening every day, its also full of totally mundane things happening every day, but we need to see and watch these things to learn about life and how to handle it (plus people watching is fun, we all know it). The best way to see the world is through our own eyes, and taking some time out of our day to rest and relax ourselves can be the start of something truly beautiful; the chance to see the world as it is, rather than through the chaos that we create every day.

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