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Take the time to take some time for rest, relaxation

July 26, 2009
By MATTHEW GOODEMOTE, For the Leader-Herald

My grandfather used to tell me, "Slow down, boy. You're racing your motors."

He owned his own farm in the Adirondacks and beauty was easy to find everywhere you looked.

When I was a kid, I used to want to "do" things.

My grandfather demonstrated how hard work and doing a job well was necessary to be successful, but he also reminded me by example that taking the time to be quiet also was necessary to be successful.

When I was sitting in Denmark during my recent time there, I took the time to slow down and stop racing my motors.

I literally sat for hours just noticing the beauty that surrounded me.

This rest affected me so strongly that I have committed to making it a part of my day, everyday.

My first week back from resting was a whirlwind of activity culminating with our Wellness Center Open House this past Saturday.

For those who came, there was an opportunity to see our "quiet space" and our new Alter-G treadmill.

This new "quiet space" is what I want to focus on this week.

I believe that we all need to follow my grandfather's advice and slow down and stop racing our motors.

This "quiet space" is important and as necessary in a physical sense as it is in a metaphorical sense.

Having a place to go to that allows you to slow down and to stop "doing" for a little while is crucial to your well-being.

As the Wellness Center has grown as a business, the people there have grown and continue to grow as human beings.

By definition, growing means that there is some sort of activity that takes place in order for that growth to happen.

However, the physical body needs rest as well as activity every day to allow this growth.

We need to make sure we balance "doing" with "not doing," and get the rest we need.

When you look to anything in nature, whether it is an animal or a plant, there are periods of activity followed by periods of inactivity.

The "quiet space" that all of nature uses is necessary for our health and wellness.

We learned in physical therapy school that in order for children to grow healthy and strong, rest is critical.

If a child misses sleep for extended periods of time, it can severely affect natural development. If you are someone who struggles to get a full night's sleep, you know what I am speaking of.

Missing sleep for extended periods of time can cause all kinds of major health problems.

Rest is so important to our physical body that we are designed to shut down if we are unable to get enough sleep.

Mentally, it also is obvious how important a break in activity is for our wellness.

For those of you with a constant stream of thoughts, you know how difficult it can be to accomplish what you are trying to because your thoughts plague you.

For some, the lack of rest makes it hard to think straight.

I know when I don't get enough rest, I get grumpy.

I make little situations into big "problems."

My decision-making ability suffers and I tend to make irrational choices that typically lead to more "problems."

There are times when "doing" is very appropriate and other times when rest and recovery take priority.

We often neglect the rest and recovery period and put it off for a time in the future.

We promise ourselves and our loved ones that we will rest when we can get the chance to slow down.

This time in the future never comes. We keep making excuses and putting off this rest.

As a result, we never slow down.

For me, this type of situation came in the form of work.

I worked at least eight hours a day, seven days a week for more than 18 months when the Wellness Center first opened.

I would often say, "When I get caught up I will go do things with my wife and kids."

Or "When I get another therapist, I will cut back on my hours."

Or "When I have enough money, I will take a nice vacation and enjoy myself."

Or "When I change my hours, then I will eat healthy and exercise."

The excuses continued, and when I did in fact get caught up, I found myself looking for more to do.

It wasn't until I decided to make walking the walk my priority that things changed for me.

It was when I found a "quiet space" in my every day that things started to really improve in my life.

We have all put what matters less in front of what matters most.

And as a result, the consequences are similar for all of us.

We have waited to start losing weight until our knees were feeling better, but as we gained more weight our knees hurt so much we couldn't walk anymore.

Then it became impossible to burn calories because we promised ourselves we would take it easy to help our knees.

A lot of people wait to change how they lift things until they hurt their backs so badly they simply can't lift anymore.

Some people have heart attacks just to realize their nutrition really does matter.

To have balance and wellness, it is as important to rest and recover as it is to be active.

We need to take a day off after strengthening, for example, to make sure we don't overwork the muscles and delay our recovery.

We need that "quiet space" between workouts.

It is OK to work overtime at times so that when we are off from work, we can truly stop working.

The benefit of having a time when we are truly resting is worth the extra effort of putting in the overtime to get to that space: as long as we do not overextend ourselves in the process.

However, there are times when doing too much while putting off adequate rest and recovery can really set you back.

I am often suggesting to patients that cleaning their house from top to bottom can in fact wait until their backs are better.

Resting and avoiding doing things that "go through their pain" is intelligent.

As I would say to my staff, if you were on your deathbed, would you really be talking about how clean your house is or was?

Understand that I am not suggesting we should not clean or keep a neat home, but I am suggesting it is not more important than your health and wellness.

Slowing down does not have to mean we stop doing things totally.

For example, the Wellness Center continues to be an active place, but we recognize the value of quiet so much that we have built a separate facility to make sure our patients can experience the value of rest and recovery.

I now put finding the "quiet space" ahead of all "doing." Finding a "quiet space" in each day to thank God for the blessings in my life has helped me see how blessed I truly am.

The more grateful I am for all that I have, from health to relationships, to career, to the many gifts I receive every day, the more I am blessed.

My grandfather was a wise man.

He took time most days to be quiet. He had run a farm from a really young age and owned the farm as a teenager.

He "did" a lot through the years, but he also slowed down and recognized that life was not just about what you "did."

One of the most important things he did was to stop to find a "quiet space" in his life for himself and for his grandson.

Today I would like to say, "Thank you Pop, I get it. I slowed my motors and it has made all the difference in my life."

The "quiet space" can be a physical place or it can be an internal state of being.

Both are beautiful and both rejuvenate you.

The opportunity to go there is available.

No matter how busy you are, there is time to slow down. We now have a place to "slow your motors" and it is available to you today.

We all need the "quiet space" mentally, physically and spiritually. Stopping even for a minute is worth every second.

Find the quiet to balance the activity; it is worth the effort and then some.

Matthew Goodemote, a Gloversville native, owns Community Physical Therapy & Wellness. His Health & Wellness column will answer your questions and discuss topics that are relevant to your everyday way of life. If you would like to ask a question, e-mail Matthew at



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