Rest & Recovery | What activities nourish you? What drains you?

The ability to unwind after stressful moments or a busy day is essential for our well-being. It’s important to strike a balance between being and doing. Improving our discernment about what activities are enlivening and what is draining us is a key element. There are many ways to find rest and to recuperate well. We would like to share a few pathways and ideas of how you can find rest as a university student.

Ana Bernardes is one of the experts who will facilitate a workshop at the first Student Wellbeing Days at WU, which will take place on April 8-9, 2024. In her session, WU students will have the possibility to explore how to find rest in movement.

We have met up with her to chat about her experience and expertise when it comes to rest and recovery and what she sees as relevant and timely skills in our fast and digital times that can help us stay grounded, relaxed and connected to ourselves.

WU Blog: Hi Ana! Before we dive into the subject matter. How rested are you arriving to this conversation?

Ana: Not at all. (Laughs.) I have so many projects and to-dos on my mind today, that I feel restless. Even though my body is feeling rested from sleep and from my regular practices. There’s an emotional component in my restlessness today.

WU Blog: What are your ways of finding rest? What are the go-to strategies that mostly works for you?

Ana: First of all, I ask myself: “What kind of rest do I need in this moment?” Which part of me is tired, and what would give me fresh energy. One thing that works for me for most of my needs is walking in nature. There’s the aspect of walking and moving, bringing my body along. And then there’s the aspect of connecting with nature, which also has a calming effect on the nervous system.

I also meditate daily. Another thing I do to rest is social contact. I enjoy just meet people for a quiet conversation or doing something together. Looking at it from a technical point of view, we could say that the latter is a pathway that implies co-regulation to find a state of calm or restfulness.

WU Blog: In a previous conversation you mentioned the confusion between rest and collapsing. Could you speak to that?

Ana: Sure. That’s one of the subjects we’ll be exploring in workshop at the Student Wellbeing Days, actually. When we talk about stillness or rest, we can experience that also in restful activities, which is very different from a state of shutting down and collapsing. The difference becomes very obvious when we go to our physical, embodied experience. You will notice if you are lying on the sofa and are really relaxed when you watch a TV show, or whether you sit on the couch and are collapsed, exhausted and the experience doesn’t recharge your system. It doesn’t give you new energy. Being able to tell the difference if an activity or “doing nothing” is allowing you to recharge your batteries or not is very helpful.

And each one of us has preferred activities to find rest and recharge our systems, it’s not always about doing nothing as opposed to working.

WU Blog: Should we plan “rest” into our schedules? How can we find moments of rest in a day?

Ana: I’d say that it might be helpful to even take a step back and consider our idea of what it means to work. Many of us associate the idea of work as something that is draining… it’s taking energy out of us. And then, we see rest as the opposite of work.

Many times, I don’t need to schedule rest, because the work I engage in is already restful for me. Then, the need to find in-between moments is not so high. With some activities, like writing proposals and spending lots of time in front of a screen, I need to schedule breaks where I move my body or drink water.

If you’d like to learn and explore the subject of restful activities with Ana, you can find the Details for her workshop as well as the other workshop in the “Rest & Recovery” segment below:

Rest & Recovery workshops at the Student Wellbeing Days 2024

Here you can find the entire program for the Student Wellbeing Days 2024.