Get Some Rest – Guest Post
“Get Some Rest!”
Rest and be thankful – William Wordsworth
“Get Some Rest!” I am sure I have used this statement every day of my life as a physician. I never realized there was confusion about what it meant until after perusing the internet. This simple three-word statement means different things to different people. People were asking:
- “Can I use my laptop?”
- “Do I have to stay in bed?”
- “Who’s going to cook for me?”
- “Can I watch TV?
Importance of Rest
What happens when we are sick?
When we as humans are ill the body undergoes stress. This stimulates a response designed for protection. This “Stress Response” is a mental and physical reaction that combats the illness and defends the body. (McLeod, 2010)
In a stressful situation or illness, the hypothalamus (in the brain) is activated. The hypothalamus sends signals to the pituitary gland and adrenal glands. This stimulation releases adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which signals the adrenals to secrete a hormone called “Cortisol”. The adrenals also release Adrenalin through a different pathway. Together cortisol and adrenaline prepare the body for “Fight or Flight”.
- Cortisol reduces inflammation, swelling, and pain
- Cortisol also raises blood pressure
- Cortisol stimulates the liver to release stored sugar for energy
- Adrenaline increases heart rate, blood pressure, and sweating
- Adrenaline decreases digestion and gut motility.
- (Who wants to have a bowel movement in the middle of a fight?)
Once the ‘threat’ is over the body returns to its balanced state. Usually, this short-term response to stress causes no long lasting ill effects. However, long term stresses or illness can cause these responses to cause persistent damage to our bodies. Turning this response around prevents our “Stress” from becoming “Distress”. (D, A, & R, 1990)
“Get Some Rest!”
So “Getting some rest” should be focused on counteracting the stress responses we have experienced due to our illness.
It includes calming the mind and reducing psychological stimulation to the “Stress Centers”. This decreases the stress hormones thus lowering our heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugars and allowing our immune system to return to baseline.
It means listening to your body and allowing ourselves to lay down and rest when we don’t want to accept that we need it.
So, yes you may use your laptop but I caution against doing demanding work as it may result in more stress hormone release. Avoid trying to meet a deadline or addressing a nerve-racking social media issue.
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” _John Lubbock, The Use of Life (Lubbock, 1895)
This is a guest post from our contributor Dr. Jeff Breckenridge
Graphics – Pixabay