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The Importance of Rest

by ThatWriterWoman 5 months ago in health
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Free time does not equal available time

This year, I have decided to take a leaf out of my dogs' book. Hours at a time, he relaxes guilt-free and warm - unshackled by responsibility and worry. I would like some of that feeling myself and thus, I must learn from him. Here I summerise my new year's resolution in three lessons from my gorgeous canine!

Lesson One: The Little Things

Cosmo + Stick = Happiness!

My dog, Cosmo, is a being of purity and enjoyment. There is nothing that makes him happier than something to carry around, be that a shoe, some socks, or, most annoyingly, washing-up sponges. When in possession of such prizes, Cosmo could see himself as the richest dog alive. His high tail swishes back and forth as he lifts his chin proudly - showing you whatever it is he has looted from the nearest family member. Quite strangely, he 'talks' during his object parades. A low and rumbling noise of satisfaction emanates from the back of his throat to secure the attention (and perhaps a chase) from his chosen audience.

I intend to take this into my own life via the medium of simple enjoyment. I will take every opportunity to find giddy beauty in the little things, the same way Cosmo does when savouring a good crunchy stick. To do this, I will take everything that passes through my ownership into consideration, and for each one I deem worthy, I will parade as my dog does, enjoying every aspect of them.

When considered with a wide perspective, the appreciation of my life came into view. I am in possession of a good life. Being able to enjoy the world from a place of privilege can be easily taken for granted - something I am definitely guilty of! I want to start 2022 with an appreciation of this - to foster a perspective that promotes happiness while encouraging ambition. Taking the time to hold my life up (as my dog would with a boot) and celebrate the good parts with myself.

When considered with a smaller perspective the appreciation of smaller things came into view. While there were many, my house plants (the few ones I haven't managed to kill) are a big draw for me. They get me out of bed on bad days and I enjoy that each one is beneficial to my life in small, but significant ways. I have listed them below alongside what I appreciate about them. Perhaps someone will read this and consider getting their own house plants in the new year. I do hope so, they are such a joy!

Aloe Vera (Aloe vera) = Used to treat skin damage and cool burns. My skin is very reactive, and the scars from acne and welts from years ago must be treated with care. Having been to a dermatologist, I know that there is no cure for the majority of them. The alternative is skin tone balancing and re-healing. This involves getting a small tan on the affected area (my shoulders) and letting that heal. The use of cooling aloe vera during this process cannot be understated as my skin does not react to the magical goop! I take great pride in my aloe vera plant (her name is Ali) and enjoy seeing it sit either outdoors or inside depending on the weather. She sits on a bamboo stand in a terracotta pot and has reached over 30cm in just one year!

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia amoena) = Used to oxygenate and purify air. As a student with a mental health disorder, I spend a lot of bad days in one room. As such, clean air is valued. During the day, dumb cane releases oxygen in large amounts while absorbing harmful toxins such as acetone, benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene. I find this plant to be lovely in shape and colour. Wide, deep green-lined leaves droop from strong bamboo-like shoots. While my plant had a particularly difficult time adapting to the new conditions when I bought it home (all the leaves died!), it is now diminutive yet healthy and settling in.

Mixed Cacti and Succulents = Used for a variety of uses though they are decorative to me. While these editions are recent to my life, I have enjoyed making displays out of groups of smaller plants. A golden Barrel Cactus (echinocactus grusonii), a Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia) and Red House Leek ( Sempervivum erythraeum) make up my latest display and sit centered in a terracotta bowl topped with pale gravel. I am hoping that the differing heights of each plant will make for an interesting display when grown for a few years.

While I am unlikely to carry my plants around in my mouth in the style of my dog Cosmo, they are some of my proudest possessions that I want to appreciate and treat well in 2022.

Lesson Two: Good Food

Here we see Cosmo enjoying some cream cheese. In the bottom left, a pair of stolen shoes can be seen!

A connoisseur is defined as 'an expert judge in matters of taste'. While the word is pretentious in nature and alludes to a snooty attitude toward any food deemed unworthy, I believe that it is appropriate in the case of Cosmo. His food bowl is ceramic, and when dry kibble hits its surface, a raincatcher-esque noise emanates through the house. This sound has an effect on Cosmo which rivals that of mystical singing sirens on clueless sailors. Skidding through the kitchen his face will appear from around the cupboards - ears up, eyebrows raised, and tail wagging! His gaze will dart between the bowl and me almost frantically, begging me to put it down in front of him as soon as possible. However, if a bowl of plain kibble is delivered between his paws, a sniff and a glare will commence, as if to say 'is this it?'. Without the addition of a tasty topping, Cosmo will outright refuse to eat his kibble. I consider myself a practical woman, with the capability of being stern, but I will always cave as a result of his begging eyes before adding some stinky fish, chicken scraps, or if he's lucky, some bacon (only a little!). Once the meal is complete in his eyes, he will begin to eat. I have studied animal welfare for over 6 years and have tended to many canines but I have never known a dog to savour his food as much as Cosmo. He takes gentle bites, softly chewing each mouthful with patent enjoyment. On occasion, I have heard his characteristic low rumble of enjoyment emanating from his throat as he eats.

I intend to take this into my own life via a principle of savouring. Instead 0f looking at a screen while I eat food prepared in a hurry, I will take the time to make better food and eat without distractions. While 'better' food can have many definitions, mine will be 'healthier and tastier'. To do this, and to enact any new habits, I will start slow. One new recipe a week is my goal for January. Then I will make 2 new recipes in February and so on. As Cosmo clearly knows, there's nothing wrong with a good treat as well, so desserts are well and truly on the list of recipes to try!

Lesson Three: Softness

Cosmo after stealing my seat on the sofa

After playing with sticks and eating tasty kibble, Cosmo will find a comfortable spot and sleep. While he has the capability to sleep on the hard, cold ground, Cosmo has a clear preference for all things soft. A fluffy towel, a warm sofa pillow, or the chair I abandoned for one nanosecond; Cosmo will take it, planting his heavy head down and closing his eyes. One quite charming behaviour which Cosmo displays is a big sigh before falling asleep. He takes a deep breath in, his chest inflating to full capacity before slowly letting the air out - rubbing his chin into a soft surface as he does.

I intend to take this into my life via rest prioritisation and sleep hygiene. This will be the hardest resolution on this list as it is very easy to mistake free time for available time in the modern world. There is a narrative that if someone isn't constantly working, they are wasting time. While I understand this is not correct, and rest is just as important as any time given, it is very easy to fall back into old habits. This is especially difficult to resist when the pressure comes from me - as I am particularly hard on myself. I intend to prioritize rest using a narrative within my own head as follows:

Rest is essential in a cycle of activity which acts as a 'recharge' so a better life can be lived!

When resting in pursuit of living a good life in 2022, it will no longer be a waste of time. Cosmo cannot play with sticks all day if he hasn't had his sleep in softness, so how can I work without my own rest? The simple answer is I can't, at least not for long before burning out. My aim for January is to not punish myself internally for taking the time I need to rest. I will also be letting out a deep sigh when I get into bed - to see if it helps!

Sleep hygiene is a concept introduced to me by my brother. He is slightly appalled by my habit of screen-watching before bed, stating that such things have a bad impact on the brain! While I'm not sure how much of that statement is true and how much is classic older brother berating, I do know that I sleep better without taking my laptop or phone into the sheets. Therefore, I will enact this in the new year by making my bed a haven for sleep. Full of the same softness and warmth Cosmo seeks out, I intend to have clean, fresh sheets atop a supportive yet yielding mattress. In addition, neck supporting pillows will ensure a deep sleep with no achy neck in the morning!

True rest, real rest, is hard to come by. By giving myself the space needed to rest, I am giving myself the energy to work better. Before rest, my life will be full of appreciation and nourishing food, and during rest, I will feel safe, comfortable, and clean.

Cosmo

My Handsome Man

I believe that we can learn a lot from our pets about how to be happy. Whilst they dwell in the urban world, they are not taken into sadness by it. It is interesting to note how pets manage this, as they are intelligent enough to see the flaws in living in a concrete jungle. Therefore, I would like to make it standard practice for pet owners - to take lessons from their pets. This could be the excited explorations of cats, the gentle meditations of fish, and/or the soft snuggles of hamsters! Give it a go!

A word of caution though, if I see any of you trying to catch birds with your mouth, I will send you to a kennel!

Resources and Links

Diffenbachia absorbion of toxins: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11540224/

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About the author

ThatWriterWoman

An aspiring female writer from the UK, 23. Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThatWriterWoman

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