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Using Rest to Fight the Flu

beth October 5, 2012

When you have four kids in the span of five years, it’s easy to feel a little … tired. Our youngest is now two and I still rarely sleep through the night. Between fussy kids and my bladder, getting eight straight hours of sleep at night is nearly impossible.

During the day, it’s easy to get caught up in activities of daily living. Cooking, laundry, potty training accidents, obligations outside the home. Those all could keep me (and anybody, really) busy forever. Breaks are few and far between.

But rest is important.

This constant busyness is not how it should be. Rest is needed to prevent burnout. Adequate sleep is essential for proper brain functioning. (You know, so you don’t put the leftovers away in the cabinet).

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep helps us with a number of things:

  • Physical renewal
  • Hormone regulation
  • Growth
  • Mood regulation
  • Energy levels
  • Mental acuity

At night, your body takes advantage of you not doing anything and gets to work, getting things back in order so that you’ll feel better and be in prime shape to ward off any illnesses that come your way (especially important during flu season).

Rest is important during the day, too. If you know about circadian rhythms, you know that our bodies naturally operate in waves of activity and rest. That’s why it’s important to listen to your body and take rest breaks throughout the day.

Have you ever felt exhausted with a long to-do list, determined to push forward until you get everything done? You know what happens, right? Nothing. I usually hit a wall and feel so overwhelmed that nothing gets finished.

That’s because we need to rest periodically to recharge and function at full capacity. So just be mindful about taking a fifteen or twenty minute break every 90 minutes or so.

If that sounds easier said than done, you’re right. It takes intentionality. But trust me, it can be done. Take it from the mom of four small kids. If I can figure out a way to do it, you can, too. In fact, I have a few favorite ways to get more rest:

Go to Bed Earlier

I know this sounds simple. And it is. That’s why I love it. Turn off the TV (or you know, sell it), shut off the computer (my biggest time-suck) and hit the sheets. I notice that the farther away it is from midnight when I go to sleep, the better I feel the next day. And the earlier I get up, giving me more kid-free time to focus on important tasks.

Use Lavender Essential Oil

Before bed every night, everyone in my family gets lavender essential oil on their temples to help them sleep better. I’ve noticed a huge difference in the quality of everyone’s sleep since I’ve started doing this. I also apply it during the day if anyone is particularly amped up to help calm them down.

Practice the Ancient Art of the Siesta

Take a short power-nap in the middle of the day. It doesn’t have to be long – twenty minutes is ideal – but it can really help recharge you for the rest of the day. Do this when the kids are napping, if you can.

My kids don’t nap anymore, but I still siesta. The whole family does. After lunch, we have a quiet relaxation time where we can read, draw, play quietly or, of course, sleep.

Take breaks

We’re cyclical creatures and our activity should reflect that. A constant state of go-go-go does no good for anyone. Instead, our energy lasts longer and we avoid burnout if we work in bursts and take quick, revitalizing breaks throughout the day.

Try working (housework, schooling, work, etc.) for 90 minutes to 2 hours and then take a break. Stretch, step outside, play with the kiddos and just take a little breather before beginning again.

Clean Less

One of my biggest complaints in the past was that I seemed to spend all day cleaning. I loved having a clean house, and I got one, but it required me to clean up after my kids all the time. It got old really fast. Then I discovered minimalism and began decluttering . I got rid of half of my possessions (and since then, another half) and can now quickly tidy my house in about 30 minutes. Seriously. It’s awesome.

I know I’m talking primarily about moms getting more rest, but the whole family needs it. But, if you’re family is anything like mine, when I model something, everyone else follows suit. 

So remember this the next time you’re tempted to just keep pushing forward and instead, have a cup of tea, read, snuggle with your kids, and take some time to rest, recharge and stay healthy.

How do you promote rest in your home?

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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