The power of rest for optimum health

A balance between work and rest is vital for optimum health. Find out the dangers of overworking and a few useful tips to avoid burnout.

Photo: Sunrise over the beach.

Rest keeps the body strong and increases endurance.

Winter is in full swing with rainy cold weather and finally, some snow on the mountains.

It’s also flu season and the time of year when many of us start getting run down from working too hard and training.

The result?

You get sick, which forces you to postpone training until you recover.

To continue to get fit for summer, resting is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.

It’s true that becoming healthy and fit involves work. It involves lots of effort and sweat and determination.

But it’s just as important to take the time to rest and relax. Your body needs enough rest for recovery and to reduce the chances of getting sick.

To reach your goals it’s important to balance hard work with R & R.

Dangers of overworking

We sometimes overwork ourselves with our enthusiasm to lose weight and get fit. We put so much effort into training and still maintain a busy work and social schedule.

But there are unwanted consequences to overworking, here are 3 major dangers to be aware of:

1. Burnout

You are likely to experience burnout if you have a stressful schedule.

This can leads to loss of motivation which leads to you giving up, especially in your training. Intense exercise and stressful schedules day in and day out can lead to feelings of resentment.

You may become sick of it.

There are both physical and psychological characteristics which give you a clue that you may be heading toward burnout. The most common of these characteristics are listed below.

Physical and psychological signs of burnout

  • Weight loss/ Weight gain
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Increased susceptibility to illness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of desire to participate
  • Mood changes
  • Apathy
  • Depression (low productivity, decreased performance level).

2. Poor quality of life

An overworked body (and mind) simply gets tired.

You become less productive as you become more tired, not only in the gym, but also in other responsibilities.

If you do not listen to your body and mind, and give them some time off your work, family and social life could suffer.

3. Injury risk

Putting too much demand on your body and not getting enough rest rest can lead to injuries, especially if doing too much exercise.

Rest helps the body recover

During exercise, the body naturally experiences stress, strain and micro-injuries.

When you rest, these micro-injuries heal which leads to improved strength and greater over-all endurance.

But if these micro-injuries do not have a chance to heal before you hit them with more exercise, you’re more likely to make the injury worse.

Moderation is the key – rest and relaxation is essential.

Tips to avoid burnout

Taking time to relax every day is important. Here are a few simple ways to avoid stress and burnout:’

  1. Social support from your peers.
  2. Relaxation training: include relaxation music and muscle relaxation tapes. This is one of the most effective ways to avoid or cope with stress or burnout.
  3. Sit or lie in a quiet place that is free from distractions and concentrate on your breathing or visualise yourself in a pleasant, calm environment.
  4. Take a brisk walk or some other form of light exercise.
  5. Get a new training program. The variety will improve your motivation and enthusiasm. Make sure you plan for recovery between sessions.
  6. Eat well. This will help your overall health.
  7. Take time out for a holiday to rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul.
  8. Set short-term goals. You’ll get immediate feedback and help you remain focused on your current task, as well as enhance long-term motivation.
  9. Communicate openly and honestly with your trainer. You should feel free to express any concerns, frustrations, anxieties or other feelings.
  10. Get a massage (you could even do a self massage).
  11. Learn and practice breathing exercises.
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