Did you know that your brain demands 20% of all the energy the human body produces and only demands 5-10% more energy than usual when someone is solving a math problem or reading a book. So even when idle your brain is incredibly busy.
The resting state is not idle
In his research Marcus E Raichle also noticed that a particular set of brain regions consistently became less active when someone concentrated on a mental challgenge but began to fire in synchrony when someone was lying still in a functional MRI scanner, letting their thoughts wander.
This circuit which mysteriously came alive when people were daydreaming eventually became known as the Default Mode Network (DMN) and is one of the most researched of the resting state networks.
So what does the DMN actually do?
The importance of downtime in mental processing
In recent research Mary Helen Immordino-Yang of the University of Southern California and her co-authors found that the resting mind is anything but idle. Instead downtime is in fact essential to mental processes that affirm our identities, develop our understanding of human behaviour and install an internal code of ethics.
Downtime is when we mentally rehearse conversations to help us develop deeper understanding. It helps us process the day’s learning and also gives us the ability to reflect our external world inward to boost our productivity, creative thinking and reasoning.
So the DMN, the circuit which is active while resting is actually an important part of human functioning.
6 ways your mind/body is telling you to rest
So when was the last time you gave yourself permission to rest? And when I say rest that doesn’t necessarily mean a week long holiday or a day off at a spa. If you are struggling with any of the following symptoms it can be a sign that you need to increase the amount of rest you experience in your day.
- Constant running thoughts
- Chronic Pain symptoms
- Trouble concentrating
- Frequent colds/illness
Our minds need rest as much as our bodies need vitamin D. So, reframe your belief that rest means being idle, it’s actually a fundamental function of how the human mind works.
What would you do if you were free of the symptoms above? How would your life improve? How would you feel??
How to get more rest and still get things done
How many times a day do you worry, stress and think about the symptoms above? How much time does that take from your day?
What if you were to readdress where you spend your mental energy and spend that time resting instead? Doing this isn’t easy, it takes practise but you can absolutely get started and I promise you it will have an amazing impact on your life and your ability to achieve.
It doesn’t have to take long, a couple of research studies suggest just 10-20 minutes per day can make a positive impact.
This is why I created my 10 minute Rest and Refresh Audio, so you can have a go and see what a difference it makes. Click below to download the audio and make resting an important part of your day.
Struggle to Relax?
If you are someone who struggles to relax, that’s absolutely fine. There are many different ways to relax. Not everyone relaxes by taking a breath or drifting off to a beach. Many of my anxiety clients report that their irrational thoughts get worse when they’re on their own, relaxing. This is completely normal, it’s like you have a backlog. Because you never give your brain time to switch off it thinks it has to do everything right now. Try to disconnect from adding meaning to your thoughts, it’s just your brain processing and it just needs time to do so. This is why resting for 10-20 minutes everyday can be useful. If you can disconnect and just let it process it will gradually clear that backlog and calm down.
I appreciate that relaxing can be an art form and isn’t always something which people find easy. If you need help learning how to relax/rest get in touch I can certainly help.
Until next time