Do you believe the laziness lie?
According to professor Devon Price of the University of Chicago, we need to get over the guilt we feel about rest, the self-preservation strategy that we wrongly label as laziness. This week, I'm inviting you to give yourself permission to rest, to think about the activities that recharge you, and to explore how you can make regular rest breaks a guilt-free part of your day. Take it from the ancient Greeks whose wisdom has endured for centuries... Beware the barrenness of a busy life. - Socrates 1. The BBC's voice of psychology and mental health, Claudia Hammond, wrote the book The Art of Rest that I read in less than a day—speed reading a book about rest to meet a self-imposed deadline is not restful! Hammond cites “The Tale of Two Sallys” whose fake Facebook posts were the subject of a scientific study to show how being busy has become a badge of honor. Restful Sally posts things like 'Enjoying a long lunch break' or 'Done with work!' at 5pm on Friday. Busy Sally's Facebook posts include, 'Quick 10-minute lunch!' and 'Still working' at 5pm on Friday. Subjects rated Busy Sally as being of higher status, more in demand, and wealthier than Restful Sally. To demonstrate how culturally random these assessments are, two hundred years ago, Restful Sally—known in the 19th century as Leisure Sally—would have been judged as being of higher status than Busy Sally, and in present-day Italy, Busy Giovanni is assumed to be not as successful or wealthy as the Giovanni who doesn't work much. Nobody really cares how busy you are because they're busy obsessing about their own busyness, so why not establish a rest-work schedule that best suits your health, happiness, and overall productivity?
Busyness is overrated. 2. In The Art of Rest, Claudia Hammond shares the top ten restful activities based on the results of a “Rest Test” survey of over 18,000 people in 135 countries, and examines the scientific research supporting each one. You may find mindfulness, watching the telly (Claudia is British), daydreaming, taking a bath, walking, doing nothing, listening to music, being alone, spending time in nature or, the #1 most restful activity...see the next paragraph...to be restful, or not. Your rest recipe will be unique to you. Hammond laments the fact that gardening and running, two activities that she finds restful, didn't make the top ten. Just because growing giant vegetables, baking, arts and crafts and socializing are not on the Rest Test list, doesn't mean these activities aren't restorative. Hammond encourages you to think about what recharges you so that you can weave these activities into your life, and have a 15-minute rest prescription handy for the times when you feel stressed out. My 15-minute rest prescription is music. Music has been scientifically proven to be a quick and effective mood-altering substance, for better (if you like the music) or worse (if you hate it like the would-be drug dealers subjected to loud classical music at various London subway stations). The song Até ao Verão is in Portuguese which I don't understand, but it puts me in a state of relaxation, and thanks to the miracle of technology, I can call on Ana Moura to fill my rest prescription almost any time or place...in fact, I'll call on her now. 3. I'm back, relaxed, refreshed and recharged! Let's conclude this week's 5-Minute Recharge with the Rest Test's most relaxing activity, a pastime with anti-stress properties that have been accidentally backed by science. Reading. In studies examining the effectiveness of yoga or tai chi as forms of relaxation, reading was found to be just as effective as these stress-reducing activities. Why reading is so restful may be that it offers an escape into another world that we co-create as we read, or as a jumping-off point to reflect on our own lives as our minds wander away from the page. We can, as Claudia Hammond puts it, “use reading to block our self-awareness or to enhance it.” Reading poetry is an ideal guilt-free prescription for a brief restful break. Think of it as studying a very important email from Emily Dickinson, or Seamus Heaney or Margaret Atwood.
Clearly, Margaret Atwood finds boredom restful. Links that relax, refresh, and recharge:
“I'm calling you for a poetic consultation” The New York Times
A beginner's mindset can help you learn anything BBC
A counter-intuitive way to cheer up when you're down The Atlantic
Email is making us miserable The New Yorker
Five apps for when you need a five-minute break Fast Company
Wishing you an appropriately restful day, Lynne I'd love to know what your favorite restful activities are. You can respond directly to this email.