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Why Should Rest Be a Priority?


We're all trying to get ahead, so we're all constantly trying to do more and do it better.

Everyone attests that good work doesn't come from being exhausted (which also brings up the question of quality vs. quantity). But how can you stay rested so that you can keep doing good work?

How to do this I can't say I've mastered. Just the other day I wrote about always being tired, and why I love it. But I do make rest - quiet time, being outside, binge watching How I Met Your Mother, etc. - a priority. This is why I think you should do the same.

Typically the brain works in bursts. There will always be an occasion or two where you're in the zone for hours on end, but that's the exception. More commonly, you can split any hour between 45 minutes of productivity and 15 minutes of rest.

It's more or less an even ratio (e.g. 30 minutes of productivity necessitates 10 minutes of rest; 90 minutes of productivity calls for 30 minutes of rest).

Each person has their own swing that they'll fall into. For me, it's right around 45/15. For my sister, it's ~75/25. Knowing your mental rhythm is a great first step to finding rest and making it a priority. When are your natural gaps that you can take advantage of?

Your brain has these splits because it gets tired. It needs rest, right? So if you pound away at work from 9-5, as many of us are accountable to do, then you're going to need a much bigger chunk of time for rest at the end of the day to avoid burn out.

Burn out is (effectively) overwhelming stress caused by prolonged overstimulation in one area. That's why you'll see a lot of people who spent their childhood and emerging adulthood years dedicated to an instrument or sport suddenly give it up.

It's also why you (probably) can't wait for the weekend to roll around. And it's the same reason why you see those people who do a little bit of everything seeming so darn happy all the time.

Obviously, it's easy to say "rest or you'll burn out and not be happy." It's an entirely different thing to put it into practice when you have family and so many other commitments.

Truthfully, I could sit here all day and talk about time management. I love that stuff! But people always find a way to make time for their priorities, so maybe this will help.

When I started prioritizing rest, this is what happened. I became less stressed. I became more productive. It's been easier for me to stay positive. I've been more creative. I've felt more at peace. Even my marriage has gotten better!

Do any amount of research on stress affecting the body and mind. You'll find - and you'll know from experience - that increasing stress makes everything worse, while decreasing stress makes everything better.

If you could take time here and there throughout your day to rest, to recoup, to enjoy the little things so that you can be happier and more productive, don't you think it'd be worth it?