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Contemplating Rest & Restoration on Staycation

Contemplating Rest & Restoration on Staycation

Charlotte Willis

Are you looking for a little R &R this summer but stuck at home? Now is the time to invest in a staycation…

Anyone who’s taken biochemistry or basic human physiology will likely be flashed right on back to human anatomy class when presented with the term rest and restore. If not, here’s a crash course in nervous physiology. There are two main branches of interest within the autonomic nervous system, which regulates unconscious functions: the Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic. We can visualise these branches as having opposing functions (like a gas and a brake pedal). The sympathetic branch triggers the fight or flight response via surges of energy helping us deal with stressful, potentially life-threatening, situations (the gas pedal). Contrastingly, the parasympathetic branch is the calmer system which enables us to conserve energy, increase digestion and slows the heart rate (the brake pedal) enabling digestion, rest and restoration.

In evolutionary terms, having your foot on the gas pedal used to protect us from impending death by giant beasts.

Although we may no longer spend our days dodging carnivorous jaws, our sympathetic nervous system hasn’t quite caught up with our new lifestyles al-desko. Threatening events have been replaced with daily stressors such as commuting, the ping of emails, increasing deadlines and working non-stop. These stressors trigger the sympathetic nervous system to activate, and whilst your foot is pressing continually on the gas pedal, the brake gets overpowered. To prevent us from crashing, we sometimes have to force our feet to release the gas pedal.

 

A staycation presents an ideal set of circumstances to press your emergency brake

Staycations come readily equipped with a sense of simplistic ease which help us activate bespoke rest and restoration mechanisms. Staycations in your local area mean zero stress at the airport, no change of currency, minimal planning and no need to hire a car. To maximise the benefits from your staycation, it is important that you immerse yourself in activities which will be curative, and most importantly, offer a sense of escapism from the daily grind. I’m talking journaling, Yin yoga, creative making projects, walking, time away from your phone and technology, meeting up with loved ones you seldom have time for and trying new hobbies without pressure to succeed. This will allow you to invest time in yourself, force you to take your foot off the gas and deepen your sense of connectivity within yourself.

 

Invest time in yourself, force you to take your foot off the gas, and deepen your sense of connectivity within yourself.

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Staycations also free you up to explore the hidden gems and open countryside areas around where you live. Find some local hiking spots, forests, woodland areas and trail paths, all of which will plunge you into a so-called nature bath. The restorative power of being surrounded by nature is truly unshakeable and will help you re-centre and ground yourself. Notice the sound of the leaves rustling, the birds calling and the smallest changes in direction of the wind. Staycations present an ideal opportunity to cultivate mindfulness, which is an essential tool for preventing your sympathetic nervous branch from going into overdrive when you return to working life.

Invest in a staycation, and reap the benefits for your soul and mind forever.

You can find the original piece in August’s Digital Magazine along with other inspiring articles to create your own staycation this summer.

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