Take a Break

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on May 27, 2022 # Lifestyle

A few weeks ago, I told my husband, “I think I’m getting too old to do things.” This was after my (comparably, very relaxing) day of work and an evening event that lasted until only 9 PM. As soon as we got home from the event, I transferred onto our living room recliner and didn’t move until time for bed a few hours later. And even then, I contemplated sleeping on the chair, so I wouldn’t have to move.

I’m kidding about the last part, but only kind of. Also, I’m only 31 years old – nowhere near being too old for anything. Here we come to my point of listening to your body and building rest into your day.

Rest looks different for everyone; my husband rests by going fully to sleep in the middle of the day and I rest by sitting on that same recliner and reading a book. This is active vs. passive rest, and they’re both important to add to your days. What kind you engage in is your preference because they can both be valid.

Some ideas for active rest:

1. Causal exercise. This seems almost counterintuitive, so I’ll emphasize the casual part. I’m in the middle of training to handcycle a marathon, so, between the days of my 13–26-mile rides, I’ll roll around my neighborhood or go for much shorter rides. Nothing strenuous, only casual. This can also look like a jog around the block, yoga, a few laps in the pool, or any kind of light aerobic exercise. The purpose of keeping you moving is to support blood flow and supply your body with important nutrients in the healing process, so it won’t take that much to achieve the goal.

2. Stimulate a different muscle: your brain. There are some (many) between-training days I don’t want to move: my muscles are sore, the weather isn’t cooperating, or I’m just having a lazy day. On those days, I read a book, listen to podcasts, or draw cartoons. This type of active rest is beneficial because you’re stimulating your brain, which means you’re being productive. Instead of just lying around, you can find a way to turn resting into something you enjoy.

And some passive rest:

1. Or just lie around. Taking a nap or slugging out on the couch is an OK way to rest your body, as long as you don’t let it take over. You get what I mean: don’t spend every afternoon on the couch in front of the TV, but I acknowledge that it can be beneficial after a workout.

2. Eat, sweat, or knead it out. Passive rest is fun because, well, it’s passive. Eating a nutrient-rich diet, sitting in a sauna or hot shower, and getting a massage are all forms of passive rest. Your body needs an opportunity to repair itself after strenuous activity, and you need a mental break. Sometimes I must keep reminding myself of that when I spend my in-between days not doing much: I’m not being lazy – I’m recovering.

There are a lot of benefits to taking time to rest, not limited to reducing stress, improved metabolism, extending your memory, and enhancing your attention span. Those are all things we want, right? Sometimes I need the reminder to do less. Our bodies and minds need a break every once in a while, and that break will leave its blessings on our mood, muscle growth, routines, and how we feel post-workout. That could look like taking mid-day naps or, if you’re like me, reading a book.

For some ideas on low-impact ways to move your body, I have some here:

And to stimulate your mind, I have ideas for that, too, here:

Everyone deserves a break – let’s make the most of it.

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.