Why rest is best

In her monthly column for October – a time when most of us start to wind down and hibernate a little more – Naomi Murray from Botanica focuses on the healing power of rest and recovery and why we should all reconnect with the lost art of convalescence…


Rest is often viewed as a dirty word, especially in our fast-paced world, where productivity and efficiency are often valued above all else. In some ways exhaustion is seen as a badge of honour: who is the busiest, most tired, most flat out etc…

But even when someone is unwell there is little patience for properly recovering from an illness. We live in a society where we are expected to ‘pop a pill’ and get back to work. However, rest is a vital part of recovery and if we don’t listen to the wisdom of the body then secondary complications may also arise. For example getting pneumonia after influenza if it is not handled correctly in the first place.

As essayist and writer Alain de Botton once said: “People can accept you sick or well. What’s lacking is patience for the convalescent.”

The use of bed rest in medicine dates back to the 4th century when Hippocrates first recommended it as a restorative measure for pain.

He knew that convalescence was the bridge that connects the state of illness to restored health once again.

In days gone by there were convalescent homes which were commonly built away from cities in the countryside or by the sea where the patient could receive plenty of fresh, clean air. It was a place to rest and heal after the acute phase had passed.

But they weren’t just about rest and fresh air, the provision of wholesome, nutritious food was a necessary part of recovery. It really was holistic healthcare; body, mind and soul.


Embracing time out to relax:

Convalescence may appear to be an interval of inactivity, but it is far from unproductive. Here are ways to make use of this time:

Prioritise personal care: When ready engage in relaxation techniques like meditation, gentle yoga, or deep breathing exercises to reduce stress and promote healing.

Stay connected: Spend time with friends and family who are encouraging and lift your spirits.

Take one day at a time: Be patient during your recovery. There is often a sense to hurry wellness and it can actually hold you back. Be okay with the recovery process.

Consider a creative activity: Engaging in something that provides mental stimulation and a sense of accomplishment; painting, drawing, pottery, writing etc.

Convalescence is not a period of idleness but a time of vital healing and recovery. It’s a reminder that our body and mind need rest to regain strength and vitality once again. In the long run, it leads to renewed health and it is useful to remember this if illness strikes. Take the time necessary to heal…


The Importance of Convalescence:

Convalescence plays a vital role in the healing journey of individuals recovering from various health setbacks. Whether you’ve recently undergone surgery, experienced an illness, or a significant injury, convalescence is the bridge that connects the state of illness to restored health. Here’s why it matters:

Physical healing: during rest and sleep, the body repairs itself. This process involves tissue regeneration, immune system strengthening, and the restoration of energy levels. Neglecting this phase can lead to complications, prolonged recovery times, and potential relapses.

Mental and emotional well-being: a period of rest and recuperation offers a valuable opportunity for mental and emotional healing. A time to be still and mindful.

Preventing burnout and adrenal fatigue: Modern society often encourages people to push themselves to the limit in the pursuit of success. Ignoring the need for rest and recuperation can lead to burnout, which can lead to severe long-term consequences for both physical and mental health.

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