“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
Hands up if you’re a busy little bee, ‘cos I’m typing one-handed. I’ve got my morning tea steeping, the children are downing their breakfasts, and I’m checking the email I missed overnight — all while I’m chatting to you (thank the genius who invented swipe-keyboards). We’re all busy. And I think we’re all grown-up enough to know at the back of our minds that too much busyness ain’t good for the body or the spirit. So today’s yarn is about permission to cut yourselves some slack.
But first, here’s some persuasive stats. A study by the State University of New York found that men who took a vacation every year reduced their overall risk of death by 20%. In another long-term study, women who don’t take time off are 50% more likely to have a heart attack and suffer from depression. Also, because our thoughts-process isn’t designed to be continuous, our optimum thinking fires up between a series of short breaks. And counter-intuitively, brief diversions from tasks have been shown to increase our ability to focus on our job. Even better when we leave our desks and start moving.
We also need rest because our bodies need to repair. “Switching off” enables our muscles to recover after a workout and therefore grow — and the same goes both for physical and mental exercise. Heart and blood vessels are mended, broken tissues sustained in exercising get repaired stronger than ever. Busyness and rest are not an either-or — together they are the whole package for productivity. You need rest so as not to undo the good from your day’s accomplishments.
BTW — resting isn’t idleness, although it can include being absolutely still and unplugged. (Total recommend. More on that another time.) Resting is about getting a break and it most certainly includes fun. Had a tense week? Stretch with a bout of yoga. Puzzling over a problem? Dance it out. I get my best ideas in the shower, which is not convenient for note-taking but it’s a testament to how relaxation brings on creativity.
— Albert Einstein, on the Theory of Relativity
So take that longer sleep you need. For tomorrow, you will move mountains.