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I’ve written recently about some of the challenges of adulting and making sure I sprinkle some fun into my routine. But another piece of this approach to adulting is rest and respite.

Throughout my adulting years, I’ve equated rest with being lazy, unproductive, and stagnant. And my definition of rest didn’t just apply to sleep. I saw resting from my exercise routine as a threat to my physical well-being. I saw resting from my work focus as irresponsible. I saw resting from my efforts to always being learning as an impediment to reading purely for pleasure.

A painful back injury this summer turned my concept of rest and recovery on its head. As I listened to my body seeking relief from this injury, I also began to listen to wise friends and experts in the field of physical fitness who reinforced this emerging sense of rest and restoration. 

It wasn’t the prescription for muscle relaxers and pain killers that got me back on my feet. Thanks to a sports massage therapist, intuitive Pilates and yoga instructors, and lots of stretching, I was pretty much back in action within a few weeks. Everyone who helped me through this injury told me some version of the same thing: “You have to take time to stretch, reduce the stress on your bones and joints, and give your body time for recovery and rest.”

Over the past four years, daily exercise has become non-negotiable in my life. It’s part of my ongoing effort to keep off the 15 pounds l lost, but more importantly it’s my key to stress relief and just general wellbeing. But apparently, this commitment to a very regular routine of weights, cardio classes and cycling was likely a contributing factor to this injury.

I’ve come to a new understanding about my relationship with rest and recovery. Daily stretching before and after a class or bike ride can no longer be just a once in a while thing. A restorative yoga class that once seemed like an occasional luxury is now becoming a necessity. A regular Pilates regimen means I’m more flexible than I was before the injury. One day of rest no longer feels like a failure.

Not long ago, I listened intently to gym owner Jamie Scott, talking in a class about the importance of rest and recovery to our bodies. My first thought was, “Why is the owner of this very successful business telling his clients to slow down rather than exercise harder?”  As I listened closer, I realized he was evangelizing about restoration and recovery, not laziness. It was the kind of slowing down that stretches your muscles after hard exercise and works the kinks out. It’s the recovery ying to the hard exercise yang.

So my definition of adulting is starting to include learning to rest, recover and restore – not only with exercise but in life in general.

If that means taking the extra 10 minutes after a cardio class to fully stretch, then I add that to my day.

If it means indulging in a People magazine binge, time with the new book of Mary Oliver poetry or leisurely arranging flowers on a Sunday afternoon, bring ’em on.

If that means a guilt free stroll along the river instead of a long bike ride, then I’m all in.

If it means sitting on the beach with the dog while mindlessly strumming my uke rather than going for a power walk, then I’ll strum away.

f that means accepting the slower paced restorative yoga class can be just as helpful as a high intensity cardio class, then sign me up!

If it means just sitting in silence watching the sunset over the water rather than trying to catch the perfect photo, I’ll be there. 

When not working to promote the interests of SC cities and towns as deputy executive director of the Municipal Association of SC, Reba is passionate about travel, writing, learning to play the uke, and staying connected with old friends. Reba can be reached at rebahcampbell@gmail.com or through her blog at http://randomconnectpoints.blogspot.com

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