Mental Health Awareness Week 21: Why Rest is Important to our Mental Health…and How to Make it Happen


Image Description: Fay sits on a bed surrounded by a Mela Chill Eucalyptus Weighted Blanket. Fay holds a white cup with a bear motif and pulls the blanket up around the body. The room is bright and airy and there are pictures around. Fay is gently smiling whilst resting.

We chose to partner with Mela on this article because they’re all about promoting the importance of rest for your mental health. Their weighted blankets are natural, high quality and are shown to help reduce stress and help you feel more of those happy hormones. We also love that for every purchase made, they donate a portion of each sale to their charity partners.This article is sponsored by Mela. All opinions are our own.

You will have no doubt experienced us talk about how this misconception that the pandemic has been restful has been incredibly damaging to see. We believe that statements like this, come from a place of privilege that needs to be acknowledged. The reason this statement is damaging is because it removes the idea of any other experiences and in turn can make you feel like you’re the odd one out. Or like your experiences aren’t valid – especially if your experience has been anything but restful!

Now that things are starting to open again around the world, and as our commitments change and morph, our need for rest and taking it seriously is just as important as ever. Different situations will potentially come up in ways you may not have experienced for a while, and as we learn to adapt to a more open life again, our need for self care is paramount. However, even though we may well know just how important rest is, it can feel incredibly difficult to get it. Rest is often considered as an ultra-indulgent thing, especially when we live in a world which is so fast paced. We have certain commitments in life that we just can’t work around – so it can feel like rest or taking time for ourselves can become a luxury item which is a nice to have rather than an essential item.

Rest is essential. Rest isn’t lazy.Resthas been shownto improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. So, when we are in a go-go-go mindset all the time, it can lead to burnout where our bodies literally just can’t keep going like that anymore.

So how do I make time for rest?

It takes a gentle reconditioning of the way we think about rest to change the way we feel about allowing ourselves to rest. The best way that we’ve found to do this is to get inquisitive whilst also setting structure. When we think about our need to rest, we often get sucked into this idea that it needs to be a whole day, or week (or whatever amount of time that to you feels overwhelming), but in truth, small, focused sessions of rest punctuated through your week are incredibly effective. Your rest sessions don’t need to be long – so it is important to be realistic with this and what is possible for you. Book in some time to focus on your rest – making dates in the diary are a great way to make sure you do something and commit to sticking to them as much as you can for your own self-care. These sessions don’t need to look and be a certain way – finding a few things you enjoy doing just for you that are relaxing and varying them are some great ways to allow yourself the space to focus on getting the most out of your self care time.

Finding and exploring things you enjoy

Many people think that rest literally must mean sleeping, or lounging (and whilst it can absolutely mean those things) it can be about exploring what you enjoy and what gives you a sense of wellbeing. Here are some suggestions:

  • Meditation
  • A walk
  • Cooking
  • Curling up with a blanket and a good book (like our gorgeous blanket fromMela)
  • Yoga/stretching or exercise
  • Sleep
  • Gardening
  • Writing/journaling/drawing
  • Watching tv/film

Sleeping and it’s impact on feeling rested and our mental health

We think it is fairly safe to say that you’ll likely know just how important sleep is to your general sense of wellbeing, but sleep can be incredibly impactful on our mental health and cognitive function as well. Getting decent sleep can help to reduce anxiety levels and help us feel more alert and awake. Whilst getting a consistent amount of sleep each day is the main aim, this isn’t always possible, for a variety of reasons. However, the quality of our sleep can be just as important as the amount of sleep we’re getting. Optimising the space where you sleep can really impact the quality of your sleep. So see if you can assess the environment you sleep in. Are there things keeping you awake? Is there excessive noise? Do you find yourself getting up a lot at night to go to the bathroom? Is it too bright? Are you too hot/cold? Do you feel comfortable? How your space feels can have a really big impact on your rest – and we’ve really come to love Mela’s weighted blankets which have been helping us to get a better nights sleep. Their weighted blankets are designed to put gentle pressure on the body similar to the feeling of being held or hugged and promote deep relaxation.

Micro-rests and micro-breaks

You’ve probably experienced days where you just don’t seem to have stopped for hours at a time and when you do, your focus can feel off, and you may even start to find that things are taking you longer than they were before. On days like that, breaks can seem like a luxury – especially if you’re close to a deadline. You can even feel like you don’t have time to eat or use the bathroom on days like this! Taking a long break away can be tough in situations like this, but there has been a lot of research around the idea of microbreaks and the benefit these can have for our energy levels, our mental health, and our productivity. Microbreaks can be anything from 2 to 10 minutes. So, this could be the time it takes to get a drink or even do a five minute meditation. It has been argued that if we focus for a long time on one task, we can start to lose sight of it and so shifting our focus away from it for a while can help us come back feeling refreshed – even if this is a very short break. Wondering how you might be able to fit these in? Try to schedule them. You could also look to use microbreaks as a reward for getting to a certain stage of your day. If you feel yourself getting distracted, use this as your que to take a break.

Ideas to try for micro-rest

  • Breathing exercises (this could be through meditation or mindful breathing)
  • Taking a 10 minute power nap (having a space in which you can get comfy can really help get the most out of a short nap)
  • Stretch your body
  • Move around your space for a few minutes
  • Get some fresh air – stand by an open window, open the door and breath in the air
  • Get a drink (we often forget to hydrate properly when we’re busy).