If you don’t know how to rest, you don’t know how to work.
Resting well is an art – and most people don’t do it right.
Let’s first look how most people rest themselves:
- They play video games.
- They mindlessly watch TV for a few hours.
- The grab themselves some junk food and soda, and eat it starting at a screen.
- They spend less than 6 hours a night sleeping.
- They watch YouTube prank videos.
- They watch porn and masturbate, sometimes for hours.
- They bitch about life with their friends sitting in a bar drinking beer. Sometimes, they also talk about sports.
- They browse Facebook.
Aside from them getting nothing positive by spending time this way, none of the above activities provide them any real rest.
And when I say rest, I mean mental rest, not just physical rest.
Everything in the above list involved resting the body, while bombarding their brains with stimulation and activity, in whatever form it may be – TV, YouTube, internet porn etc.
They didn’t rest what they needed to rest – their minds.
Think about it, unless you’re a lumberjack or a factory worker, when you’re tired – is your body tired or is your brain tired?
Is your exhaustion physical or is it mental?
It feels similar, but it’s very different.
Your body may be tense from sitting all day, but by no stretch of imagination is it exhausted.
The story for most people is that their body is rarely ever exhausted, especially if they aren’t in active professions.
They work in an office under artificial florescent light, they look at a computer screen all day, and the most they come to physical exertion is probably the short walk between their desk and the washroom.
And yet, when they get home, they lie down on the couch, pig out on takeout, rest their body, whilst continuing to stimulate their tired brains with high speed media.
Meanwhile, they their brain continues to tire.
They start feeling the “burn” of modern life.
They become victims of “stress”.
Then they start blaming everyone else for “stress” – their families, their jobs, their bosses etc.
What they don’t realize is that the cause of their misery isn’t third party entities like their bosses and their spouses, it’s usually themselves.
They’ve kept their brain “on” for so long that its overworked, its being dragged in the mud, it’s numbed itself down, and the only rest it gets is 6 hour of shallow sleep because it’s owner wanted it to focus on YouTube and video games till 4 am in the morning.
If you find yourself fitting in the above descriptions, or even if you don’t, here are some effective strategies to rest your mind that will not only improve the quality of your life, but will also give you a long lasting sense of calm:
1) The Mindless Walk
It’s very simple.
Go to a garden, or a beach, or any other place in nature, carry your running shoes and walk (or jog) for 30 – 60 minutes.
A place in nature only because the sight and sounds of plants, trees, mountains, sand and oceans are relaxing to the human brain.
If your only option it to walk in an apartment complex, then so be it. Don’t let the great be the enemy of the good.
Remember, it’s a mindless walk, a walk with no specific purpose.
You can listen to light music if you like, but you can’t listen to a podcast or an e-book.
Don’t actively think anything, and don’t actively process anything.
With that said, the goal is not to have zero thoughts, that is impossible. The goal is to not be actively thinking of something.
When your brain does start thinking, don’t fight it, but don’t feed it either. Just let it do it’s thinking and move along.
Consider yourself a bystander on a road, and your thoughts are the traffic on the road – you’re not trying to stop the traffic, you’re not trying to make the cars go faster – you’re just watching, in a relaxed, detached way.
You’ll have to give it a few days before you start to see the benefits. And you’ll have to walk at the same place every day for the best results.
What happens is that when you go to a new place, your brain is on high alert (this evolved as a survival mechanism) – you’ll have to walk one path for a few days at least to familiarize yourself enough with the terrain to let your mental guard down and really relax.
You’ll notice that these walks will leave you in a calm, almost trance-like state of mind. You’ll have a nice, soft focus going on for you.
The exercise is just a bonus.
2) Hit The Gym
Too mentally tired to go to the gym? Go to the gym.
Heavy exercise makes your body release lots of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin.
These chemicals make you feel good. They are your brain’s “mood” chemicals.
They are released in the brain when you accomplish something (such as a great workout) and they are the source of all pleasure the human body can experience.
Exercise is known to cause euphoria – a state where you’re almost high on exercise.
Heavy exercise might tire your body out, but it will only relax your brain. The human body was designed in that way.
Besides the above, exercise will make you stronger, both mentally and physically. It’ll ease strain and tension from your body, and it’ll improve the quality of your sleep.
Now, meditation deserves it’s own blog post, but here’s the basic gist of it:
Meditation will physically strengthen and stabilize your brain – you will gain more control over your emotions, your brain won’t tire nearly as fast and as much, and more importantly, it will give your brain some much needed rest from the modern day over-stimulation.
No matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter how old you are, you NEED to meditate.
Meditation is the greatest thing you can do that will significantly improve the quality of your life.
Do it for 10-20 minutes a day, and do it everyday.
Never forget that.
You need to give it at least a week to really start seeing results.
You’ll notice yourself becoming much happier and peaceful with time.
4) Sleep Like a Champion
If you read my newsletter, you’d have read my emails on sleep – and how to maximize it’s impact on your well being.
You need 7 to 9 hours of deep sleep for your mind to truly be rested.
Most people only get 5 – 6 hours of sleep. This is not because they are busy being productive, it’s because they want to waste time on the internet.
There’s no YouTube video, movie, sitcom etc more important than your sleep.
Inadequate sleep will mess up your hormones, it’ll make you age faster, and if you do it long enough, it will make you depressed.
I’ve always said, the best way to combat stress and depression are:
But of all of the above, I’d rate sleep to be the highest of them all.
You can do everything right, but if your sleep is shit, you’ll feel like shit, and eventually you’ll become shit.
5. Get a Steam Bath
There’s something about warm temperatures and sweat that relaxes the mind.
Just sit there for 10 – 15 minutes, and do the same thing you did with the mindless walk – just watch your thoughts come and go like a bystander.
The steam and the heat will relax your muscles and you’ll sleep much better that night as well.
I highly recommend getting a steam bath once a week. If you have a gym membership, chances are, you’ll find a steam room to use for free.
I also put in a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the water when I go for a steam bath.
Besides, steam baths are really good for the skin. They help remove toxins from your body and boost your metabolism – so you literally burn calories as you relax.
And most importantly…
6) Don’t bombard your brain with artificial stimulation
Recognize TV, movies, video games, porn etc for what they are – artificial over-stimulation.
The human brain did not evolve to be able to handle the constant stimulation and variety that high speed internet can provide.
The human brain gets “hacked” by the stimulation that high speed internet and media provide – use them in limited quantities and use them primarily for productive purposes.
Remember, your brain is also a muscle – it needs to rest. If you constantly bombard it with stimulation, it will throttle itself to a lower intellectual level.
There’s a reason why a TV is called an idiot box.
Give your brain the time it needs to stay in top shape and it will give you great performance. Don’t, and you’ll only mediocre performance.
Until next time.