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Resting for Resilience

During rest our batteries are recharged; we re-balance and revitalise our physical, mental and emotional resources.

Many of us rush around all day… so much to be done, the ‘to do’ list is endless! And we wonder why we are tired, even exhausted. It is as if we believe we should not be tired, that our energy levels should be a constant. Having passed the 60-year mark and noticed a change in my energy levels, I am realising more and more the value and necessity of resting.


Good Rest

Why can’t we be more resilient, tougher and determined? Why can’t we do more?  Why can’t we accomplish all the goals we set for ourselves? Despite eating healthy food and exercising, being efficient and organised, we might still feel depleted. Many things can contribute to this, but a lack of good rest could be a major factor; it forms the foundation for resilience – physical, mental and emotional.

Life consists of movement and rest – Zen saying 


It is getting the balance of movement and rest that is the trick. It isn’t the busy schedule that’s the problem in itself; it’s the misunderstanding of what it takes to be resilient that is the issue. It is the lack of a recovery period which is holding back our collective ability to be resilient and successful.


Constantly Busy

We feel we must endure; we want more stamina not someone advising up to chill out or to sleep. This attitude comes from a society that values productivity and busy-ness – ‘time is money’. Misconceptions of resilience develop at an early age: working hard for exams, staying up late finishing a project and as adult we then become workaholics and the ’to do’ list becomes longer.


In a 2016 study,researchers from Norway found that 7.8% of Norwegians have become workaholics. The scientists cite a definition of “workaholism” as “being overly concerned about work, driven by an uncontrollable work motivation, and investing so much time and effort to work that it impairs other important life areas.” Many of us believe that it is only through constant busyness that we will success and be valued. We need to challenge these notions.

I think sometimes the best training is to rest. Cristiano Ronaldo


Tiredness is Dangerous

An exhausted person risks causing accidents, making mistakes and hurting self and others. Reflexes are slow, cognitive functions are impaired. If you are tired you shouldn’t drive or perform any particularly risky tasks and if you are the grumpy, moody, tetchy variety of human being when you are tired, and I know a few of these, then it is advisable to keep away from people! Self-control is lowered when we are tired, and this can cause problems for you and all who come into your sphere. For me, tiredness is a trigger for negative thinking and catastrophizing. None of us perform well if we don’t have enough recovery time.

Research has found that there is a direct correlation between lack of recovery and increased incidence of health and safety problems.




Continuous cognitive arousal – whether from our phones, ipads, laptops, PC or TV – is stopping us from recharging, and it severely affects our sleep. In her book, The Sleep RevolutionArianna Huffington wrote, “We sacrifice sleep in the name of productivity, but ironically our loss of sleep, despite the extra hours we spend at work, adds up to 11 days of lost productivity per year pre worker, or about $2,280.” (in the US)

So much attention is being given to sleep recently. Research, books, programmes – the media is full of good advice, and so I won’t go into any detail here – just signpost a few useful and interesting links:


17 Proven Tips to Sleep Better at Night by Rudy Mawer

The Sleep Council – 7 tips for a better nights sleep 

How to Sleep Better – Simple Steps to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

NHS advice on sleep 

The Mental Health Foundation advice

A Collection of TED Talks on Sleep


Rest – the key to resilience

One of the keys to resilience is doing whatever you are doing to the best of your ability and then STOPPING, RECOVERING, and then getting busy again when you are RESTED.  Look at babies and animals.



This conclusion is based on common sense and on the biological principal of homeostasis which is concerned with maintaining equilibrium. It rests on the principle of feedback loops. If we pay attention to the feedback – signs of tiredness that our brain and body register (the feedback), then we will recognise the need to rest – it is simple!

Homeostasis exists to ensure our well-being. When the body is out of alignment from over-exertion, energy is wasted – our mental and physical resources are depleted, and we need to restore the balance before we can move forward. The more imbalanced we become due to overworking / over-exertion, the more we need to value resting as a means to return to a state of balance and the value of a recovery period rises in proportion to the amount of work required of us and this is not simply physical work, it is mental and emotional too. We all know that emotional states are exhausting.

Resting … an active choice

So how do we recover and build resilience? Most people assume that if you stop doing a task like answering emails or writing a paper, that your brain will naturally recover. But just because work stops, it doesn’t mean we are recovering. We “stop” work, but we can spend the night worrying and wrestling with solutions to work problems and falling asleep thinking about how much work we’ll do tomorrow.  If you lie in bed for eight hours you can still feel exhausted the next day. Stopping does not equal rest or recovery.

A research paper in 2014 exploring the work situation found that internal and external recovery periods were needed. Internal recovery refers to the shorter periods of relaxation that take place during our work, such as short breaks, walking around, having a cup of tea, changing tasks to an easier or more pleasant one, going outside etc. External recovery refers to actions that take place outside work, e.g. evenings watching a film, weekends away, holidays, any leisure activity.








You can build resilience by consciously and strategically stopping and actively resting. Creating internal and external recovery periods for yourself.

Schedule rest and recovery time

When you plan your day, or your week build in rest time. Brains need as much rest as our bodies, so set aside specific time periods and watch a film, read a novel, a bath, have a long chat on the phone with a friend, take a yoga class, have a massage; meditation is always a good thing and listening to certain relaxing music can help with calming the mind. Use travel time to rest, walk outdoors listen to guided meditations … whatever is nourishing and helps you to rest, recover, recuperate and recharge.

Use technology

By looking at our phones constantly we misdirect precious energy that could be better spent recharging. Try setting alarms on your phone to remind you to take mental breaks. Apps like Headspace offer 10-minute meditation sessions that can help you recharge and be more productive.

Are you ready to master the art of resilience? Book a free discovery session with me and we can discuss resilience and a coaching programme to suit you – call me today: 07528796206


TED Talk   – Shawn Achor

Article by Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan

Book by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang (2018) – Rest: Why you get more done when you work less