Rest is often regarded as a reward for hard work. It’s something many people skip in favour of working long hours, or only allowing for it when their workload permits. It’s easy to forget that rest is a biological need that shouldn’t be seen as optional.
In today’s late-capitalist society, so much of our daily lives centre around work - to the point where you feel unworthy of rest after a non-productive day. But rest is the body’s natural state. It’s the baseline we fall back to when you remove all external influence. So, rest shouldn’t just be a reward, it should be a given. No matter the level of productivity you’ve achieved, everyone should allow themselves regular rest.
With proper restorative rest, you allow your mind and body to recover from periods of work. This has the beneficial result of greater productivity and a more balanced work lifestyle. But it’s important to remember that rest isn’t simply the absence of work, it must be a deliberate action so that you can reap the benefits.
You must rest with intention. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by the stressors of life, or to just idly scroll on social media – these don’t allow a proper restorative state of rest.
Below are recommendations from Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less on how to encourage productivity from your rest:
Start an early morning routine
By starting work early, you harness the period of time when your creativity is at its peak – straight after rest. This allows you to produce a higher quality of work and to tackle your most challenging work before you begin to flag as the day progresses.
Stopping at the right time
In today’s culture, many people default to working long continuous hours in an effort to be productive. However, this really just leads to stress, burnout and poor performance.
A great way to be intentional in your rest is by being deliberate in where you choose to stop and take a break. The best time to do this is actually when you still have energy left and can see the next step in your plan. Many overstep this and only stop once they’ve exhausted all efforts, which can be detrimental to their productivity when they pick things back up.
The reason for this is because by stopping when you know your next move you allow your brain to prepare while you take restorative rest. This can actually energise you for when you next resume work. As it eliminates the taxing task of discovering what needs to be done next, which can lead so many to dread working again after they’ve rested.
Walking can be a good way to intentionally rest as it removes all distractions and gets your body moving. It allows you to relax, increases the blood flow to your brain and increases creative thinking, all of which is vital for resting between work.
A study from Stanford University tested divergent thinking in participants when walking or seated. It found a 60% increase in creative output from participants when walking. So, by implementing a daily walk into your routine you could greatly improve your creativity and problem-solving skills while at work.
Napping is another key method of restorative rest that shouldn’t be overlooked. The National Sleep Foundation recommends up to thirty minutes of napping to restore alertness, enhance performance and reduce accidents in the workplace.
Naps are a perfect way to restore depleted energy and combat the afternoon fatigue that so many experience during the workday.
And with the work from home movement still going strong in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, more of us than ever have the ability to nap during the workday. Or for those that do still commute to the office, many companies, like Google and Ben & Jerry’s, have embraced the benefits of napping at work and offer nap spots to their employees.
Of course, the ultimate form of rest is sleep, so it’s vital that you get a good night sleep. The health benefits of sleep are tenfold, and studies have found that poor sleep compromises memory, alertness, decision making and problem-solving. A lack of all of these things will have a direct detrimental impact on your productivity.
Aim to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night so that your body can fully rest and your brain can enter slow-wave sleep, which restores brain function and increases energy and alertness the next day.
While rest is without a doubt an important element for increased productivity, it’s essential to treat rest as an equal partner to work. Don’t just rest as a plan to be more productive. This mindset can be detrimental as you run the risk of avoiding true restorative rest as you’ll always be in work mode. Make sure to rest because it’s what your body needs!
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- Why Understanding Sleep is Crucial to your Wellbeing
For any more help on rest and productivity, contact us here over at Ceed.