It’s 6:45 AM. Your alarm is ringing next to you, your head is pounding, the sun is barely starting to peep through your windows.
Your mind is telling you: come on, get up. It’s gym time.
But, your body is telling you: come on, go back to bed. It’s snooze time.
And you start to wonder: what should I do?
Rest days. They’re just as important as all that time you’re spending in the gym. It’s crucial to give yourself a mental break from training, and time for your muscles to recuperate from all your hard work.
However, one of the trickiest things can be deciding when to take one. Sometimes we may wrongly convince ourselves that we’re just being lazy, or that taking time off is going to derail our progress. But, a lot of times, that’s anything but the case, and a rest day is actually exactly what we need.
So, here are my tips on deciding if you need one:
You’re sick. The flu, a sore throat, a high fever. It happens. We may catch a seasonal bug or simply be run down from school or work. But, whatever it may be, it’s important that we give ourselves time to recover. Taking a few days off may feel mentally tough, but training while you’re too sick is only going to cause you more harm than good. So, when you’re throat is killing you or you’re too nauseous to walk around, leave your trainers in your gym bag, and rest up with some Netflix and chicken noodle soup.
You’re tired. This is not to justify snoozing your alarm every morning you wake up and feel the need for some extra shuteye. But, it’s recognizing that sometimes that ‘tired’ feeling is more than just a desire to sleep. It was a long strenuous week at work, you had three finals in four days, you stayed up all night studying in the library…life gets hectic from time to time, and it’s important to recognize that sometimes letting your body relax needs to take precedence over a 40 minute cardio session in the gym.
You’ve had a bad day. You came home after a long day where nothing seemed to go right. You had promised yourself that you would drag yourself to the gym for a training session, but all you really want to do is curl up on the couch with a good book and forget about everything for a little while. And that’s exactly what you should do. Yes, working out can be a nice mental break, but it can also feel like a burden when we’ve had a rough day. So, put your pajamas on, pour yourself some tea, and get your mind off things.
Something comes up. Your friend who lives out of town surprises you with a visit. Your boyfriend or girlfriend drops by and asks you out to dinner. Your brother invites you over to watch a football game. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem like that evening training session you planned is going to happen. And that’s okay. Fitness shouldn’t be all encompassing. Life should be. It’s okay to take another day off to get froyo with a friend you haven’t seen in years, or to enjoy a meal out with your family. It’s the little moments that make lasting memories.