Escape vs. Rest: Navigating the Need for True Relaxation

May 28, 2024

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I was just daydreaming back to my recent trip to Paris with my youngest son and husband. Wow, it feels weird to write that. Husband.  Anyhow, every day we’d walk ALL around town. I loved it. My husband on the other hand called our walks, death marches. I found our walks restful and restorative, even at my quick pace. He was more interested in slowly enjoying all of the sights.   

This got me thinking about this idea of rest.  A friend recently posted on social media that she needed to escape to the beach to get a moment of peace. She desired to completely tune out – in a world where stress seems to be the norm, have we normalized the need to escape rather than truly finding rest?

There’s a difference between sleep and rest. 

Let’s unpack this a bit. Yes, sleep is important but that’s for another day, another blog. This is about finding rest versus feeling the urge to escape. It’s become almost commonplace to check out for a night, a week, or even just an afternoon – a mindset that sneaks in one small habit at a time.

Think about it – have you ever poured yourself a glass of wine after a stressful day just to “forget about it”? While a momentary escape might temporarily lower cortisol levels, it’s merely a band-aid solution to a larger problem. The unfortunate truth is that cortisol spikes the moment you return from that escape – and especially after that second glass of wine.

Why bother?  

Giving your mind a rest can give you a new perspective. Positive rest or downtime with minimal stimuli helps renew your brain’s capacity for attention, focus and creativity.

So, how can we do better? 

Instead of relying on temporary fixes, let’s focus on finding mini-moments of joy – things that bring genuine rest and help keep our stress to a minimum. 

Rest can be difficult to define because it looks different for everyone. It’s any behavior aimed at increasing physical or mental well-being, whether active or passive. 

What does rest even look like?

Life gets so busy it’s sometimes hard to remember what rest really looks like, isn’t it? Here are a few ideas to help you.

  • Schedule regular moments to look forward to. Did you know planning vacations actually helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol?
  • Find a hobby you love
  • Give yourself a work break to take a walk. I often follow that up with my  favorite cortisol-lowering mocktail
  • Do small acts of self care like reading, journaling or savoring a cup of tea.

By consciously seeking out moments of joy and gratitude throughout your day, you can cultivate a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment in your life.

Let’s not forget that even God knew the value of rest. From Genesis to Revelation, scripture is filled with references to the necessity of taking a break from physical and mental work. He took the 7th day to rest! So, the next time you feel the urge to escape, remember that true rest is not only beneficial – it’s essential for our health and well-being.

So here’s to finding moments of genuine rest in our busy lives – because sometimes, the best escape is simply taking a moment to breathe.

I'm Dana Lewis

Hi there!

When my fit husband died at forty from a cancerous tumor with little to no symptoms, it left stress to blame and lots of questions to be answered. As I began searching for answers, I learned about the microbiome and the power of this second brain. Ten years later, I am honored to be able to take what began as my pain and share it with you.