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Underestimating the Power of Rest

woman resting

“Sleep is so overrated” is a common phrase these days. While many people say it in jest, the truth is we live in a world that underestimates – and undervalues – #theimportanceofrest.

#Rest provides countless benefits, from a healthier body and less stress to greater productivity, better decision-making, and deeper connections with others. Despite these proven pluses, the idea of intentionally scheduling breaks runs counter to today’s non-stop, hyper-connected culture.

We are surrounded by opportunities and relationships 24/7, and bombarded with so much information that it is difficult to determine what is and isn’t important. Our minds are addicted to stimulation, and faced with the constant distraction of email, social media, text messages and television, rest has become an increasingly difficult state to achieve. In fact, in a society where working 60- to 80-hour weeks is admired, the practice of taking regular rest is often equated with laziness.

It’s no wonder we have become overworked, #stressedout and exhausted.

And yet, according to the author of the book Rest, Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, intentional rest is the key to fulfillment and creative success. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, founder of The Restful Company and a visiting scholar at Stanford University, has spent countless hours researching the importance of rest. He looked at the lives of scientists, writers, Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners who were incredibly prolific and productive – but only worked four or five hours a day.

Pang found consistent patterns in the way these people rested: They took walks and naps and structured their days carefully. Consulting research in neuroscience that explains why these practices help people be more creative, Pang concluded that rest is not entirely passive or defined by the absence of work, but a practice we can all cultivate and use to improve our lives. In fact, we may be able to accomplish more by working less and taking the time to rest.

Studies have shown a correlation between chronically working long hours (more than 50-55 a week) and increased risk of heart attacks, stroke and obesity. Scheduling time for what Pang calls “deliberate rest” can also help break this unhealthy cycle. The key is to set aside specific periods of time each day for naps, physical activity or an engaging hobby and allow your mind to wander. For those who don’t have much control over their schedules, make it a habit to schedule #deliberaterest periods on weekends and vacations.

Remember that rest is not to be rushed or simply checked off your “to do” list. In order to truly reap the benefits, you must be dedicated, patient and embrace the downtime – body, mind and soul.


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