Labor Day

The Value of Rest

Monday, September 05, 2016

Happy Labor Day! 

Guess what?  Until last Thursday, I had no idea - none - that Labor Day was today.  We were in the middle of an EHR (electronic health record) steering committee meeting when our network guru mentioned that he could not measure performance today because of Labor Day. I whipped my head around so quickly toward our pharmacist and asked "Really? That's this Monday?" Sarah, the pharmacist, said, "Yep, it's a three-day weekend."  I cannot even begin to explain to you how excited I was in that moment or how excited I have been since. The idea of having one day where I didn't have to be responsible for anything. One day where I didn't have to wake up for work or church.  One day with no plans – simply because we didn't know it was coming in order to make plans. A day of absolute rest.

When I tried to think of what to write about today, all I could think of was how happy I was to rest.  Which of course, led to me realizing I haven't addressed the importance of rest on this blog. Possibly ever.  What better time than now?

Taking a break is good for the soul and - it turns out - also for the body. You may have heard it said that you need at least one full rest day a week. Did you ever wonder why? Did you ever wonder why your body needs a full day of recovery from all activity?  The reason is simple, really.

When you work out, you're actually tearing up the muscle fibers. You are breaking your muscles, in other words.  They have to repair themselves - which is where rest comes in.  Each one of those tiny tears in the muscle gets repaired, most often stronger than they were originally.  In truth, you don't get stronger by working out; you get stronger by resting.  

I personally have a tendency to overwork (bet you couldn't have guessed that, right?).  I rationalize going hard because it keeps me in the habit.  I can't get "lazy" by taking a day off.  Then I begin to wonder how I could possibly continue to eat the same amount of food on rest days as I do on "work" days.  The problem with that logic is that rest isn't truly about doing nothing.  Rest is about repair, and it's actually a lot of work.  Most important to remember, though?  It's IMPORTANT work, and without it?  You are risking injury.

You know, I mentioned a few paragraphs up that rest is good for the soul and the body.  Both can be injured by "too much."  Please, do me a favor?  Honor this Labor Day in a slightly different way?  Take the time to honor your own labors - physically, emotionally, spiritually, and otherwise.  Rest, recover, and rebuild so that tomorrow you can be stronger than ever.

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