So maybe you’ve started to incorporate joyful, intuitive movement into your life and are exploring how exercise feels in your body. This is a process that requires a lot of grace and self compassion. When healing from a disordered relationship with exercise, very similar to food, you may be stuck in the pattern of black and white thinking where you either have to be “all in'' or “nothing at all” when it comes to exercise.
This “all or nothing” thinking is common when it comes to movement. We frequently see influencers bragging about their “dedication” to go to the gym ‘x’ amount of days or the phrase “no days off”.
Honestly, this sounds exhausting and probably isn’t the best thing for your body that needs rest and recovery in order to function properly. What we don’t see on social media is someone bragging about a rest day!
As you navigate joyful movement, the beauty comes from understanding that you are allowed to be somewhere in between “all in” or “nothing at all.” In fact, we welcome the in-between with open arms as this is where we see change and growth happening within ourselves.
The “all or nothing” mentality can be harmful and lead to overworking your body. Part of intuitive movement is understanding what your body needs in the moment and honoring that decision. This understanding comes with time and patience, but there are a few red flags that may highlight if a rest day is necessary - as well as some questions to ask yourself to help “tune in”.
4 signs you needs a rest day
Wait, I thought exercise was supposed to give you energy? You’re right! Participating in movement throughout the day can have positive impacts on your energy levels. However, if you’re exceeding the limits to how much movement your body needs, it can lead you to feeling run down and frequently fatigued. This can also be a sign of inadequate fueling for your workouts - which would be an interesting topic to explore with your dietitian.
2. Constantly Feeling Sore
Prolonged feelings of soreness is a common sign that you need to take a rest day. It is quite literally your muscles saying “give me a break!” When your muscles are sore, it may inhibit your ability to properly move through their correct range of motion, which may increase your injury risk. Additionally, giving your body a rest when you are sore can help with restoring your muscles’ energy stores and even stimulate muscle growth!
3. Feeling Sick
Overexercise can lead to lowered immunity and an increased risk of getting sick. If you’re feeling under the weather, take it as a sign to rest your body. I can tell you that exercising is never the cure for feeling sick. In fact, it can actually prolong the amount of time that you are feeling less than your best!
4. You Just Want To Rest
This one is our favorite. Take a rest day because you want to. Period. End of story. Although resting can be demonized in our culture, remember that your body needs rest in order to function. Just like with food, there is no mortality inherently tied to movement - you are not “good” for moving nor “bad” for not. Listen to your body and honor it if it’s just not feeling movement that day.
Does My Body Really Need Rest?
If you are unsure - try asking yourself these questions to check in with how your body is feeling:
- How am I feeling today? Mentally, physically, emotionally?
- What would support me right now in how I’m feeling? How would moving my body make me feel? Is there something else that I need in this moment?
- If I knew it would not change my body, would I engage in movement today?
- If I knew it would not change my body, what type of movement would I engage in? Do I need something uplifting or grounding? Do I want to be alone or with a group?
- What type of movement sounds fun to me in this moment?
Once you have gone through these questions try making an informed decision with the thoughts, feelings and emotions that came up for you.
Remember, there is no “perfect” way to move your body. Letting go of society’s expectations of movement allows you to step into your individual body needs.
This is a process - please try to give yourself grace. You are doing the best you can to navigate your new relationship with exercise and we want to make sure you have a community there to cheer you on every step of the way.
Make sure to contact our office to find out how we can best support you. Our team of dietitians can help you navigate your new relationship with exercise, and even help you figure out what to do on those rest days! Maybe a rest day is the perfect opportunity to practice self-care in a different way.