Rest can be a vital tool in recovery from any physical or psychological stress or trauma and this doesn’t come as much of surprise. What may come as a surprise is that sometimes what is conceived of as rest actually slows or stops the recovery process and can contribute to prolonged episodes of illness.
Our body innately has a drive to protect us, it’s what’s behind most of our feelings and pain. When we experience anxiety or fear we try to move away or modify our involvement in a circumstance so that the feelings are resolved. When we have pain we try and protect ourselves, and when we have fatigue we try and avoid activity that might exacerbate our low energy levels. Often times though, whilst these initial responses are very healthy, plotting the path of a steady return to normal activity is delayed in accordance with these ongoing feelings and it can be hard to find your way back to normal.
The most important thing to remember is that rest remains important in any recovery, but of equal importance is taking small and incremental steps back to normal life. Most people want to shake off an episode and jump back into business as usual, only to find themselves metaphorically slapped down by their bodies when they do. The natural assumption is “I’m not ready, I’ll wait some more”. Science tells us though that whilst you may not be able to jump back to your pre-injury or illness activity straight away, people manage better in the short and long term when they manage a steady ‘rehabilitation’ type process.
So if it’s pain, injury, mental illness or another condition that’s taken you out of action, don’t take it lying down! Small steady steps to recovery will be more likely to get you back to normal and get you back to life quicker!