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STRONGER TOGETHER: How to rest for optimal wellbeing

Last updated:
09/01/2023

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses how to rest for optimal wellbeing.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

How do you feel now that Christmas and New Year celebrations are done and dusted for another year?

You’ve had a chance to reflect on the past year and step forward into 2023, and it’s now a good time to take a moment to check in with yourself and feel what your body needs. At this time of year, many people feel like they need a good rest!

Many of us roll into each January feeling fluffy, lethargic and both emotionally and physically drained, even if you’ve had time off. Shouldn’t we feel rested, refreshed, and ready to take on the new year?

Festive burnout is very real, so January is the perfect time to rest and prepare for the year ahead.

But rest doesn’t mean you have to completely stop. It’s not just about crawling into bed and snoozing away to your heart’s content, though that’s part of the bigger picture. According to the Australian HR Institute, there are seven types of rest, and we need all of them to feel truly refreshed and well. Try incorporating these types of rest into your day-to-day life and notice if you feel an improvement in your energy levels and wellness.

Physical rest

Rest can be passive or active. Good quality sleep is important and having a solid sleep routine which incorporates waking up and going to bed at similar times each day will support your body’s natural circadian rhythm. For active rest, consider stretching or adding yoga into your daily routine.

Sensory rest

When was the last time you switched off all your devices? Most of us probably can’t remember, but being switched on 24/7 can be exhausting. Like devices, bright lights, conversations, and background noise can all play into sensory overstimulation. Unplug for a set timeframe, or in the middle of the day simply closing your eyes for a minute or two can help.

Mental rest

Is your mind constantly racing? Think of your brain like an internet browser – if there are too many tabs open, you can’t rest! Brain dumping can be useful in helping to quiet your mind. Keep a notebook handy – on your desk or on your bedside table – and take a moment to write down all your thoughts.

Emotional rest

Sometimes putting the world to rights with a friend or debriefing with a colleague can have a huge impact on your ability to rest, and your overall wellbeing. This can be particularly important if you work in a customer facing role where you are required to deal with people’s problems and be ‘on’ all the time. Brain dumping can also be a useful tool if you’ve got things on your mind.

Creative rest

Creative rest is about finding the wonder in life and getting inspired by the beauty of the world around us. Take some time to get outdoors and take it all in. Fill your living space and office with plants and hang some beautiful art that you love where you will see it often.

Social Rest

Do your relationships revive or exhaust you? Who are the people in your life who fill you with energy and fill your cup? Surround yourself with positive, supportive people and make sure you carve out time to be with these people.

Spiritual rest

Spiritual rest doesn’t have to be about religion. It’s about filling your cup through connection and feeling a sense of love, purpose and belonging, whatever that may look like for you. Community involvement, prayer and meditation are all wonderful additions for your daily routine that promote spiritual rest.

I encourage you to incorporate these types of rest into your day-to-day life so you can benefit from feeling more energetic and have a greater sense of wellbeing each day.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses wellness through the Christmas period.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Christmas is a hectic time for many of us. During December we scramble to attend a seemingly never-ending list of social gatherings, battle the crowds to shop for presents, wrap, decorate homes and offices, run around visiting family, bake, try to make our Christmas pay cheque go that bit further, race around to kids’ sporting break ups… phew! No wonder so many of start each New Year feeling emotionally, physically, and financially drained.

This year, I’m challenging you to break the cycle and to be mindful about your own wellness this festive season. Rather than putting self-care on the back burner and going into 2023 feeling frazzled, I am sharing my top three tips guaranteed to leave you feeling energised and refreshed after the holiday period.

Check in with yourself: Throughout the year, but at this time of year especially we spend time worrying about others, their needs, what we can do to help them. You are important, too!

Take a moment now to ask yourself:

Reduce the alcohol: This time of year, almost gives people permission to overindulge whether it be food, alcohol or your favourite Netflix series!  The festive season provides a great opportunity to reflect on our drinking culture and the way that we drink. Research suggests that even when people intend to drink responsibly, it can be difficult to stick to the plan due to social and environmental pressures and let’s face it, getting drunk is also an acceptable societal norm. Personally, I made the choice to reduce my alcohol intake in July. I didn’t tell myself I wouldn’t drink, I just told myself that I had a choice every time I consumed alcohol, knowing that making the choice to drink undid all the positive things that I had introduced into my life to improve my health. Avoiding alcohol completely is not for everyone, however we all have a choice about when and how much we wish to consume.

Declutter your calendar: There is no shortage of social events in the lead up to Christmas, yet there are so many other opportunities throughout the year to schedule social events with family and friends. Be selective, learn to say no, and ‘ring-fence’ your time to protect it for the things that matter most. Perhaps schedule in some dates throughout the year to ensure that you are maintaining great relationships and networks.

Consistency is key when it comes to the choices that we make about our wellbeing. Putting good strategies in place now to support those choices will create a solid wellbeing foundation from which to thrive in 2023!

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on wellness."

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

The notion of wellness is often aligned with good health; but it’s more than a state of health, it’s actively pursued.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

It’s not necessarily a state of achievement, but the continuous work you do to maintain mental, physical, emotional, environmental, and social wellbeing to mitigate any negative impacts on your mental health.

Wellness to some may sound a little commercialized in the wake of a boom in holistic health businesses, retreats, or the likes. But when the concept is stripped back, it’s more about self-awareness and actively listening to your needs.

The world is unpredictable and often unforgiving, so you need to equip yourself with means to survive and thrive – like putting on sunscreen and a hat on before going outside to minimize UV exposure.

Self-care is the sunscreen for your mental health. However, to suggest it’s easy to apply would be naive.

Everyone is different, individually, and circumstantially – so you need to be kind to yourself when it comes to what wellness looks like and how you spend your energy and time.

Comparing yourself to others to a point of self-criticism rather than inspiration will do more harm than good.

You need to look inward to grow, and if you discover you need support you’re not alone.

While prevention is better than treatment, we understand how hard it can be to realize you need help, let alone get it.

IMPACT Community Services attended the recent Mental Health Select Committee’s Inquiry into the opportunities to improve mental health outcomes for Queenslanders public hearing.

At the hearing, IMPACT’s Health and Support General Manager highlighted the need for a simplification of the referral process; the importance of individual choice for provider; collaboration between support workers, business and clinicians for the best care, diagnosis, and treatment; and prevention – highlighting the need for wellness.

Until more support is streamlined and accessible, as individuals it’s important not to lose focus on what you can control and how you treat yourself.

There are plenty of anecdotes which optimize wellness in the form of self-care. A popular one is, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’.

Self-awareness is about knowing what fills your cup, what drains it, where you’re willing to pour and how much you have left.

Self-care is acting on this. A small shift in thinking and simple actions can begin to improve your overall wellbeing. It shouldn’t be thought of as something on your to do list, rather it should be enjoyable and meaningful.

I pick up leaves and flowers and water my gardens each morning as a mindfulness activity. I also pat my dogs as soon as I get out of bed, as an opportunity to be grateful.

For some people self-care is journaling, exercise, meditation, stretching or some form of stillness. For others it could be getting a smoothie or listening to music; whatever it may be for you, it should be freeing.

We often think ‘I have no time to focus on me’, or ‘there are too many other things that need my energy’. But the reality is that we all have enough time in a day - we just have to choose how we spend it.  

Self-care is individual and ideally something that brings us into the present. No planning for the future, no worrying about the past. Just being present with what you have in that moment.

So, how can you free up some time in your day to focus on yourself?

Each day, get into the habit of asking yourself, ‘What did I do to fill my cup today?’  

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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