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Pillars of Health: Stillness

Sleep, Recovery & Mindfulness

"You can only train as hard as you can recover"

Stillness & recovery have equal value to conscious movement. With so much energy devoted to exercise and movement, it is easy to forget about counterbalancing with stillness (not to be confused with mindless screen time).  Ironically, this lack of intentional stillness can reduce the benefits of increased movement. It is quite common for people to embark on intense exercise plans only to find themselves more burnt out, low-energy, and inflamed than when they were inactive only to arrive at the conclusion that movement musn't be for them. Mindful stillness is a key piece of the puzzle for every human; from performance clients to those seeking weight-loss.

Stillness can come in many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Sleep
  • Breath work
  • Soft Tissue & Stretching
  • Meditation or Mindfulness Practice
  • Body-care (massage, bathing, stretching, etc.)

When was the last time you scheduled in even just 10 minutes to be still?

Sleep is one of the most important drivers of health, and without adequate sleep, everything will suffer from metabolism to mood to performance and much more. Sleep hygiene- what you do in the hour or two before bed and what your room environment is like- is also extremely important. Bright lights, screens, food, exercise and many other kinds of stimulation can affect not only how fast you fall asleep, but how deep you sleep throughout the night. Restful sleep is the king of recovery & cellular function: creating the environment before and while you sleep allows you to reap the benefits of this type of stillness that encompasses a third of our lives (on the presumption of 8hrs/night average).

Do you prepare your body to sleep? Or are you on the go until your head hits the pillow?

Mindfulness is a huge buzzword, but for health, the concept is sound. Humans are creatures of habit and many people float through their days without truly engaging in much conscious behaviour. We tend to make mindless knee-jerk reactions when it comes to anything regarding pleasure: food, drinks, screens (phones, games, TV, etc.) Engaging in mindful practices keeps you acutely aware of what's happening to your body and within your body. Without taking time to slow life down and own stillness, life will very often slow things down for you (illness, injury, etc.)

Do rest and stillness happen when life stops you, or do you consciously plan them in?

The central nervous system requires time to counterbalance the stressors of daily life, so if you find yourself adding more and more movement without improving results, it might be time to add in some mindful stillness to your plan.

How To Enhance Your Stillness & Recovery

If you're cringing at the thought of "adding more" to your busy days, here is an easy 3-step approach to fit stillness into your day without overwhelming your brain with additional decisions and time commitments:

  1. Start and end each day with 2 minutes of your chosen stillness & recovery (breath work, body care, etc.)
  2. Use a "snake bite" approach by pairing those 2 minutes with a habit you already do (brushing teeth, for example). Make sure to do your new habit before or during the regular habit that you're pairing it with. Ex: soft tissue your feet while you brush your teeth.
  3. For the first two weeks of developing this new habit, set an alarm and/or leave yourself a note so that you don't forget. We all need reminders and this helps groove the pattern without stressing about trying to remember a new thing.

As always, the key is to start small, gain momentum, and grow your stillness and recovery practice slowly over time. Consistent small wins lead to big long-term results.

"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."
-Winnie the Pooh

pillars of health

Learn more about the Move Daily Pillars of Health here.

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