Added 24 August 2023

A few words about resting

Let’s start with the basics.

The basis when it comes to resting is the brain, specifically the system of contentment and soothing that it makes us feel. In living beings, a state of contentment and soothing is achieved when they get what they need. This usually becomes possible in a situation in which they have a sense of security and the probability of attack is close to or equal to zero. The system in question has to do with a group of peptide hormones called endorphins – their secretion stimulates a sense of satisfaction when the threat response system and the striving system are deactivated. Its function is to relax the body and create a sense of satisfaction and, on a biological level, to regenerate the body. From this point of view, rest is possible when:

  1. we have the opportunity to stop in action,
  2. we are not threatened by anything.



Re 1. When is it possible to stop in action? Firstly – it is not about enforced stillness, but rather a state of mind in which we feel calm and accept that we are going to disengage from the stream of activity for a while. And here it is always worth asking ourselves – what does a situation in which we do nothing do for us?

For some people, this may be the moment when they start to feel anxious, fearful, sometimes even irritated. It may stem from a fear of the fate of what we have left behind, but sometimes these emotions stem from the fact that constant action has so far allowed us to avoid some kind of confrontation with ourselves. In the former case, it is often about the need for constant control, counterbalanced by the confidence that, for example, nothing bad will happen if we are not at work. In the second case, it may be that work allows us to hide from all sorts of conflicts within ourselves, concerning relationships, important life decisions or a sense of meaninglessness in our lives – just like running with a wheelbarrow – it doesn’t matter if it’s full or empty, what matters is to run with it quickly. To be able to switch off, it is useful to accept that we don’t have to do everything, always and everywhere, and in the best possible way. And by extension, it is useful to be in a state where we stop setting expectations of being equal or equal to the gods. It’s also useful to have an acceptance of our own imperfection – everyone has some deficits, everyone makes mistakes and things don’t always work out the way we would like them to. In dealing with our own imperfection, it is helpful to be forgiving. Interestingly, people who stop scolding themselves for every stumble and have learned to be forgiving of their own imperfections often become more forgiving of their surroundings with the idea of “Help yourself – let the world breathe”.


Re 2. The state of threat is directly linked to the stress response. Since threats such as predator attack, famine, etc. in the civilised world are no longer a source of stress, so the question arises – what is threatening us now? In today’s world, the most common sources of threat are our relationships with other people, the fear of how we will be judged, the fear of whether someone will give us what we need, whether they will harm us, and so on. Consequently – the ability to switch off the threat system will be linked to our beliefs about other people. We can learn to focus on relationships that are worth it, relationships that are worth investing in and surround ourselves with people we like ourselves around. On the other hand, we can also learn not to worry about the judgement of others. How much I would have given for someone to have taught me earlier that not everyone has to like me and not everyone I have to love….


In both cases, the question of fulfilling the necessary conditions to bring the body into a state of regeneration lies in our psyche and in what beliefs we hold about the world and ourselves. We do not need to spend huge sums of money and luxurious conditions to relax. What matters is mainly whether we feel good about ourselves and whether we surround ourselves with the right people.


The Mental Health Centre offers a number of lectures, trainings and workshops on the topic of rest and recovery, among others in the “Self-care” package. Examples of the topics offered in the lectures are:

  • Regeneration – between work slave and zen master. Why do I find it difficult to take care of myself?
  • Overthinking – why do we do it to ourselves? How do we deal with worrying?
  • Good sleeping habits. How to cope with working in different time zones?
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Work-life boundaries – how do we disconnect?

A partial listing of lectures can be found at: For the full lecture offer – please email:

Author: Michał Śmiałowski


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