Rest: why and how


As the holiday season is upon us, it is a good time to talk about rest. In order to make it count, it is wise to be deliberate about our holidays and breaks. If a full-on holiday is out of reach, the same ideas can be applied to a night off.

1. Why rest


After an intense workout or a physically demanding day, we mostly realise the power of quality rest. Somehow the value of resting diminishes when our work shifts more into the white collar mode. After all, who needs rest after just thinking, talking and typing all day? Obviously we all do! While physical strain makes our bodies so tired that our brains slow down quite voluntarily, it might be a whole other challenge to switch off from work mode when most of our work happens in those very same brains. Just like giving your body time to recover, our brains need time to recoup as well.

Being deliberate about our resting time becomes ever more important when work seems to be omnipresent. Being able to switch off from work and make your holidays and breaks count has become especially important during remote work and working from home. The wonderful thing about deliberate rest is that it is a skill like any other. Why is that great? It means we can learn it, practice it and perfect it as we experiment with different kinds of rest. 

2. How to rest

So how do we hone our resting skills? You’ve made a great start – by thinking and reading about it you have already opened doors in your brain. Now, keep reading to decide what you let through those doors and what info you will act upon. You can also pick up a book about it or invite us to help your team approach rest more deliberately. Here are some tips to get you started.

2.1 Rest mindfully

Mindfulness is spreading like wildfire through the western world and with good reason. Being mindful of what you are doing brings your attention more fully to it allowing you to enjoy it more fully as well. This applies to your holidays and evenings just the same. If you rest mindfully, you get more out of it. Pay attention to moments of rest: being bored can be a wonderfully rewarding thing! Just let yourself be. Whether it’s waiting for the light to change, coffee to brew or date to show up, enjoy these microbreaks. Leave your phone behind and your hands free for a while and just breathe in the sensations, thoughts and movements that appear. If you manage a proper holiday, really switch off from work and focus on the holiday and the activities it involves.

2.2 Rest actively

A distinction is made between active and passive rest. The first implies true involvement while the second allows very low levels of engagement. Perhaps surprisingly it is the first kind that really counts. Passively scrolling through social media or the news has a higher likelihood of increasing anxiety and stress than bringing relief against the very same culprits. Being actively involved in your holiday may sound obvious, but is not always the case when we consider our evenings on the couch. Choosing activities that keep you engaged will allow your brain to stop focusing on anything work related. Meet friends, read books, visit events – do things you enjoy and let them truly occupy your mind.

2.3 Plan ahead

There is something incredibly satisfying in waiting for a well planned ahead holiday. By planning ahead, you don’t have to have every detail down. You might not even know most of what you’re going to do. But even if you have an idea for an outline of a holiday, you can enjoy the wait

2.4 Switch off

Switch off from work and switch off from devices. To truly rest, work thoughts should be kept to a minimum. A difficult way to do it is by checking your emails every time you get bored. An easier way to switch off from work is to also switch off from devices. Having a separate device for your travel and holiday related things could help – I use my kid’s tablet! This is also the only device I manage to read e-books on. No emails, no calls, no work. If you still use your work devices, at least switch off all notifications. And, once you get back to work, keep them off! Decide on a time you check your emails or social media and don’t let notifications from any of these run your life. Own your holiday, make the most of your micro breaks and you will come back with more energy and fuller batteries.

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