Have you ever come back from a wonderful holiday, and joked that you are glad to be back at work for a rest?!
Clearly, there is a difference between "relaxation" and "rest" - going away for a holiday can be a great form of relaxation, but it’s not always a great form of rest!
For optimum physical and mental wellbeing, we need both rest AND relaxation. So what is the difference?
What Is Rest?
Our bodies demand rest on a daily basis - it’s why we go to bed each night.
However, “rest” encompasses much more than just our nightly shut-eye. It also includes naps, and quiet times: periods when we cease work and physical activity.
Before we were old enough to start school, our parents probably insisted that we had a “rest” each afternoon. It’s still part of the curriculum in early childhood centres, because experts recognise that growing bodies and brains function best with a bit of downtime during the day.
While that forced period of inactivity may (or may not, depending on the child) lead to sleep, it still helps little bodies (and their parents and caregivers!) to function at their best.
Once we hit adulthood, our “rest” or "quiet time" is more likely to consist of putting our feet up in front of the TV in the evening. We are inactive - we don't really have to work our bodies or our brains.
What is Relaxation?
Unlike rest, which is about stopping activity, relaxation is about starting and stimulating the part of you which is generally placed on hold during your working day.
When you are practising relaxation, you are immersing yourself in something you enjoy, to the point that you are free from your usual cares and anxieties – if only for a little while.
What that relaxation looks like, is as individual as you are.
Some enjoy painting or reading. Others like to go for a walk in the bush, potter in the garden or shed, hit a tennis ball, or listen to music. What matters is that it is something which brings you:
- excitement; and
- zest for life.
In 2016, the Australian Psychological Society surveyed 1,500 adults and adolescents, and found that four out of every 10 people rarely participated in relaxation activities. Not surprisingly, they also reported lower levels of happiness and wellbeing (APS InPsych Bulletin, December 2016).
So now you can see that while travelling may be a wonderful form of relaxation, rejuvenating mind and soul as you:
- explore new destinations;
- see new things;
- meet new people;
- try new experiences; and
- taste new food;
it's not always restful!
We see many people at our Gold Coast Psychologist Centre, suffering from not getting enough REST and/or RELAXATION. If this is an area where you would like some help, contact our office on (07) 5527 0123. We offer a no-obligation, 10 minute, free phone chat with a psychologist, to help you decide if we are the best psychologist for your needs.
WELLNESS IN THE WILDERNESS: Learn more about the art of relaxation and how to incorporate it into your daily life, at our next one day retreat (a Sunday in August). To be notified when bookings open, email firstname.lastname@example.org.