9 types of rest, which are you craving? + Nature cure

Last week, I came across this list of 9 types of rest and I thought it was great:

#1. Time away
#2. Permission to not be helpful
#3. Doing something “unproductive” 
#4. Connection to art and nature
#5. Solitude to recharge
#6. A break from responsibility
#7. Stillness to decompress
#8. Safe space
#9. Alone time at home.

I don’t know about you but I read the last one and was like, “Wow, I didn’t even know how much alone time at home appealed to me.” 😂 (for all the parents out there, is this similar vibes to grocery shopping solo without kids in tow?). 

I’ve always known I had higher needs for alone time than some people, but I think the lack of alone time may be the most challenging part of parenthood for me.

Last week, my (just turned 2.5 year old ) Mila had quite the challenging preschool pick up or ‘transition’. I think it took me like 40 minutes to get her dressed and into the car. I got in, with rush hour traffic, listening to Cocomelon Pat-a-cake for 20 minutes on repeat, but my thoughts and feelings were, “Ahh, finally a break.” LOL. 

My point is: perception is individual but also we have to take moments of “rest” whenever we can, whatever that might look like in our specific season of life. 

Other than solitude, connection to art and nature is probably my favourite and most effective form of rest: I can go from feeling overwhelmed and frantic to grounded and refreshed with time in nature. 

I think we all have experienced and know the profound impact that a little sunshine and fresh air can have on our sense of wellbeing. But in case you need a little extra motivation to prioritise it, there is mounting evidence that nature benefits to our physical and psychological well being including: improved working memory, cognitive flexibility and attentional control. It also promotes feelings of happiness, ability to self-reflect on life, a greater sense of meaning and purpose, and reduced feelings of distress. It’s even been found to increase our behaviours towards each other and the planet, literally making us more prosocial, generous. and kind. 

And before you get stressed wondering how you’re going to fit yet another health promoting behaviour into your day, one study found that even 40 seconds of looking out a window at green space improved the study participants cognitive performance versus the control group (who saw no green space). Heck, even listening to nature sounds or being shown images of nature has been shown to improve cognitive performance. The bang for your buck is big and it lasts even after you’re out of (seeing, hearing, or being in) nature. 

They are finding that our sense of ‘connectedness to nature’ and the natural world contributes to feelings of happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature. 

^I totally understand this. Having grown up on a forested acreage in a small town, I never feel quite right in a city (I felt especially ungrounded living in Toronto, like a fish right out of water). I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I think it was low grade stress/vibes from being disconnected from nature for the first time in my life. 

Anyhow, it doesn’t have to be hiking in the forest or camping if that’s not your jam, glamping or walking down a tree lined or river view urban walkway works too!

Ok, based on these 9 types of rest above, here are some ideas:

  • Take a nap (or lay feet up eyes closed for all you ‘I can’t nap’ folk, this stillness recharges the batteries)
  • Go for a walk outside in nature
  • Go somewhere you want to go, alone 
  • Totally free, unstructured time (zero to do list or agenda)
  • Get lost in a good book, bonus points for fiction for all you non-fiction folk (talking to myself here)
  • Finally prioritise that friend date or phone call
  • Permission to do something fun, just for the joy of it, and no other function
  • Quality time with a loved one, distraction free

Comment below and let me know, what are you going to choose this week? How are you going to get yourself outside (for warmer temps)?

Dr. Willow

PS – I just decided I need to let you know about the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku (aka Forest bathing). It’s far from “hippy” stuff, I promise! It’s part of the national public health program in Japan and includes the study of “phytoncides”. Stay tuned ✌️

PPS – This is probably why so many people are #plantobsessed. One of my secret shames is that I’m an ND with a poor track record of keeping plants alive. But given the topic of today’s blog, bringing the outdoors in is a great move.

- Dr. Willow

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I help women achieve optimal digestive and hormonal wellness through a root cause, individualized approach to medicine that utilizes functional lab testing, diet and lifestyle modification, nutritional and herbal medicine, and acupuncture to re-establish lasting health.


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