What does it mean to rest and digest?
When I was growing up, my family went boating, water skiing, and swimming often. It was my parents' rule that we kids had to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before we could go back in the water.
We were told that if we went swimming too soon after eating, we could experience cramps and drown. So for the half hour following a meal, we sat around doing mostly nothing.
We were resting and allowing our food to digest; that is, we were resting and digesting.
Fast forward to today...I am sitting at my computer reading, reflecting, and thinking about what I want to say in this article.
It is very quite at my house. I feel calm, serene.
The state I am in is called a rest and digest state.
This state is the physiological opposite of the fight or flight response. Your body's sympathetic nervous system activates the fight or flight response.
When fight or flight is activated, you experience an increase in energy which enables you to meet a challenge or complete a task.
Once the challenge is met or the task is completed, your parasympathetic nervous system brings about the rest and digest response.
You slow down and begin to recover from the wear and tear of the fight or flight response.
Metaphorically, fight or flight is like when your body accelerates and kicks you into passing gear.
Rest and digest is when you apply the brakes, allow your body to down shift and you begin to enjoy the passing scenery.
The rest and digest response is important when it comes to your health and how well you recover from the impact of stress.
As you know, poorly managed stress can make you sick.
Do you find yourself experiencing poor health and unable to get over a medical problem?
The health issue may be minor, such as a cold that just keeps hanging on or frequent sinus infections.
On the other hand, it may be a serious disease, such as cancer.
What do you need to do to achieve the best health possible given your circumstances?
Slowing down, resting, and allowing your body to digest, may be the key to regaining your physical wellbeing.
It may be that you need to apply the brakes, get out of the fast lane, and enjoy the passing scenery for a while!
Your body has to have energy to repair itself, heal, and eliminate
toxins. When you are in fight or flight, the energy normally used for
these purposes is being redirected.
The energy is being used to meet the immediate challenge or complete the pressing task.
That is a good thing - for a limited time. You get stuff done and it feels good.
However, you are not recovering or healing. If the fight or flight response goes on for too
long, you will likely get sick. If you are already sick, you will stay sick and maybe get
You no longer get stuff done and it no longer feels good.
To heal, get well, and feel good, you have to spend time resting and digesting.
When you slow down, your body focuses on digesting food.
Toxins that have built up inside your body are eliminated; that is, you detoxify.
Your immune system is doing its thing.
You are healing and recovering.
If you are sick, this state helps you get well. If you are healthy, this state helps you stay well.
You can't be resting and digesting when you are fighting or fleeing. Remember, the two states are physiological opposites.
Often the demands of life result in you staying in fight or flight so
much of the time that you never or seldom experience rest and digest.
What's the solution? In a word, balance.
To be healthy and happy, you have to live a balanced life.
To live a balanced life, you have to be aware of and meet all of your needs.
This has to been done in four areas of life by using four types of action.
It's not so complicated if you have a guide and take it step-by-step or part-by-part.
The Balanced Lifestyle Matrix can be the guide you need.
I have an online course that can guide you through the Matrix,
part-by-part, helping you design a life that will be, for you, a less
stressful, more balanced, and highly satisfying life.
You can learn more and register for the course here.
One more thing before I close; you will be interested to know that the rest and digest response also allows you to enjoy sex! Want to know more. Here is a video that explains.