Reaching a New Level of Rest

By Alene Brennan

I used to think I could proudly check off the “rest” category in my healthy lifestyle plan because I slept like a champ.

I would sleep about seven hours every night.

Rest is all about sleep, right?

Then my doctor would ask me what I do during the waking hours to rest… um… hmm… I never thought about that actually.

In my opinion there was always too much to be done. And even on days that I didn’t have the energy to perform at the level that I wanted I had a hard time truly letting go.

But living with a chronic illness I quickly learned that I have to build time in for rest. It’s the only way to keep my tank full. Even on days that I feel “normal” energy, I still create intentional time to keep a reserve in the tank.

What I find most helpful and most enjoyable along the way is to incorporate my essential oils into my rest. Diffusing lavender essential oils supports my environment for deep rest.

Lavender essential oils are known to be calming to the body and mind. Beyond that, our sense of smell is strongly connected to our memory center in the brain, so if I’m diffusing the same aroma during this intentional rest, my body will start to associate that aroma with relaxation and drop into a state of rest much easier.

It’s also helpful because I can carry that bottle of lavender essential oil with me throughout the day so that if I have experience anxious feelings, I can take a deep breath in of the aroma and experience a sense of relief from that moment.

Restorative yoga is another restful activity for me. It gets me comfortable with the idea of just being at ease with my body not being in motion of an activity. A couple minutes in child’s pose doesn’t require a huge time commitment but it certainly is calming to the body and mind.

I’ll also admit that I reluctantly fell into the type of people the binge on Netflix series. This is something I truly never thought I would do, but because I had knee surgery earlier this summer, I was forced to spend some time on the couch and by default started getting sucked into the shows.

Now this isn’t something that I will boast as a “health-supportive” activity but there is something deep indulgent about just sitting back and allowing yourself to be entertained by a good TV series.

*Alene Brennan works with individuals living with MS and other autoimmune diseases to create a diet and lifestyle that will support their healing and disease management. She holds four certifications: nutrition coach, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and natural food chef. You can learn more about her work and follow her blog, recipes, and more at Check her out on Instagram and Facebook, too!

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The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is a national nonprofit organization and leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a Helpline with trained specialists; award-winning publications, including, The Motivator; MSAA’s nationally recognized website, featuring educational videos, webinars, and research updates; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; safety and mobility equipment products; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; MRI funding; My MSAA Community, a peer-to-peer online support forum; MS Conversations blog; a clinical trial search tool; podcasts; and more. For additional information, please visit or call (800) 532-7667.

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