Remember the days of falling asleep in the back of your parents’ car, without a care in the world? It’s hard to relax like that in the day to day after reaching adulthood.
However, knowing how to rest well will set you up for success in work and life. Your body and mind need the occasional timeout to function well, and ignoring that need can lead to painful consequences.
While it’s hard to carve time out of your day to rest, it’s also more important than you likely realize. Backed by evidence and research, here are five reasons why you should take a rest day.
1. Rest Restores Your Body
The science of working out has some interesting insights into the value of rest. When you lift weights, you break your muscle fibers. During the rest and repair phase, your muscle tissue heals, growing stronger in the process. This means it’s after your workout — during the rest phase — that your body is doing the most important work of growing your tissues.
Athletes know that taking a rest day doesn’t mean avoiding all exercise. However, changing what they do allows their bodies to adequately recover and protects them from the adverse effects of overtraining, which can cut into physical gains.
Adequate sleep is a significant factor in physical regeneration, but changing your activities is another way to bring more rest into your day.
2. Rest Boosts Productivity
Evidence suggests that taking short breaks throughout your workday boosts productivity. This seems to be counterintuitive because you automatically work less if you take more time off.
However, while rest periods may take up precious minutes in your workday, they boost energy levels and improve your focus. There isn’t a formula for balancing work and rest, but experts suggest you listen to your body and take a break before you need to.
Another benefit of taking breaks is that you’re avoiding burnout at work. Burnout is often a result of chronic overwork and can have disastrous health consequences. Moreover, there is no good reason to work that much — years of research reveal that working more than 40 hours a week doesn’t lead to higher output.
3. Rest Clears Your Mind
Rest fights the stressors affecting your mind as well as your body. For instance, studies show that taking vacation time reduces stress and improves overall mental well-being.
One of the most restful things you can do for your mind is to sit in silence. Today’s world is full of distractions and pressures that will steal your peace. Taking time to sit quietly can help you reconnect with yourself and cultivate a more peaceful pace of life.
Rest can specifically benefit those engaged with health struggles that affect the mind, such as depression or substance abuse. Taking time to be still equips you to face life and brings any inner issues to the surface so you can get help before they grow out of control.
Similarly to muscle regeneration, taking time to do nothing is not time wasted. It will empower you to do more when you’re actively thinking.
4. Rest Enhances Creativity
Many people today suffer from information overload. If you work from an office, you likely switch between emails, text messages, phone calls, meetings, quiet computer work and casual conversation throughout your typical eight-hour day.
Everyone, from young children to retirees, now experience the effects of additional screen time and busyness in their lives. Instead of promoting more creativity, this increased sharing of ideas may be shutting down your brain.
Recently, teachers who noticed the effects of “noise” on their students incorporated four minutes of rest into the beginning of their class periods. They saw significant increases in their students’ ability to focus and learn.
A well-rested mind is more creative than a stressed, overworked one.
5. Rest Keeps You in Touch With Yourself
There’s another added benefit to getting enough rest — you come home to yourself. Often, stressed-out people distract themselves so they don’t have to face their fears or concerns. While this relieves stress temporarily, it doesn’t do anything to help the underlying problem.
Eventually, these internal pressures, such as insecurities, anxieties and feelings of overwhelm, will break free of the neat boxes you try to put them in. Taking time to rest and be still will help you sort through your thoughts and emotions before they spontaneously combust.
You are the person you’ll spend the most time with over your life. Isn’t it time you got to know yourself?
Ready To Rest
Now that you know how important rest is to your physical and mental wellbeing, don’t let anything stop you from incorporating it into your life.
You may need to rework your schedule, change your day-to-day priorities and adjust some of your relationships. Whatever you do, take rest days — you’ll be reaping the benefits for the remainder of your life.