Recognizing the Importance of RestBy:
We are a culture of go-getters. Often we feel guilty for taking a break and stepping away from our work. Recent research shows that it may be that stepping away is the very thing we need in order to be more creative and productive.
When you have had a long day at the office, you may be tempted to drop into the couch with a glass of wine and the remote control, but this form of turning off may not be the one that actually restores you. In his recent book Rest: Why you Get More Done when you Work Less, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang explores the world of deeply restorative and deliberate down time. It turns out that tapping into your creative potential includes some very important acts of tuning out the focused mind. Try these new ideas for rest the next time you feel empty of ideas or energy:
Move your blood: Pang explores the relationship between athletes and academics in his section on exercise. He looks at a study that followed leading scientists through the years, and found that those who were the most innovative and successful were also those that invested time and energy in athletic pursuits. Specifically, they chose athletic endeavors that could be played throughout life, such as tennis, swimming, hiking, and skiing. The research showing that exercise is an excellent stress reducer supports these studies; high achievers often experience a great deal of stress. With exercise built into their lives, they are better able to handle the various deadlines and stressors inherent in their careers.
Stop what you are doing: It turns out there is a good time to stop working, and that is when you are sure of what you will do when you get back to it. Writers through the years have insisted that by taking a break when they knew where they would start again allowed them to get right back into their creative stream. Ernest Hemingway suggested, and research supports, that stopping writing mid-sentence can let you get right back into your rhythm. Learning to recognize the best time to stop and take a break can let you confidently step away from your work, knowing you’ll have an easy point of reentry.
Head for the hills: You can hit the trail or the park, or your neighborhood streets, but when you’ve tapped out your creative mind, a walk could be just what you need to recharge. Well known figures throughout history, from Beethoven to Charles Dickens espoused the virtues of long walks in nature. More recently, studies have shown that walking can get those creative juices flowing as well as lift your mood and help you return to focus when you head back to your office.
There are some counterintuitive ways that we can recharge our energy, attention, and brilliance. It’s almost never about gritting our teeth and just getting through it, not when our creative and problem solving capacities are needed. By finding effective and engaging activities that support our ability to regenerate, we will enjoy our lives more and be more productive.
Kalia Kelmenson founded Maui Mind and Body to support women's health. She is the creator of Core Strength Balance and Mind Body Booty Camp and enjoys moonlighting as the reviews editor at Spirituality & Health. Kalia explores the fascinating intersection of fitness and mind-body health. Find inspiration for your movement practice from research and stories that are emerging from this intriguing field.