What comes to mind when you think of the word “Rest”? Refreshed, restart, new.... guilt, a waste of time? Those are some of the words that Claudia Hammond’s research participants came up with in a study which was done across 135 different countries with 18,000 participants. Claudia found that though many people define rest differently there were some things in common for those that took Hammond’s Rest Test, in her book she details the top 10 restful activities.
Quality rest is individualized and unique to you, so you have to figure out what works best for you and your lifestyle. Remember, no one is going to do it for you!
Mindfulness allows for stillness and puts distance between your thoughts and emotions. It increases our awareness to when we need to rest. An example would be to try driving somewhere with no radio on and with your phone on silent. Do it 3-4 times throughout your week and see if the following week you crave the silence.
Watching TV can allow us to “disconnect” and provide a social component, requiring no mental effort. Look at watching TV as a short-term solution to loneliness to provide a feeling of companionship.
Psychologist Russell Hurlburt came up with the “five frequent phenomena”, which are the five different areas that our minds go when they wander. This includes visual imagery, inner speech, feelings, sensory awareness, and unsymbolized thought. The brains’ natural state is wandering, not rest according to Hammond’s book. Thus, daydreaming has similar effects to that of mindfulness and meditation and provides the brain with some much needed rest.
Clarifying, warm, and restorative were just a few of the words that participants used to describe taking a bath. The 18,000 participants in Hammond's study decided bathes were one the top ten most restful activities. Make some time this week to rest and relax with a warm bath. Don't be afraid to throw in some bubble bath and a face mask to make it a spa night!
Movement is simplistic, meaning you don’t need much other than time to do it. Whether it is walking, in a wheelchair if needed, getting out into nature and taking in the scenery around us can help us feel recharged. It is also leaving behind all our to-dos, meaning we can’t do laundry, dishes, clean, write that list that has been nagging at us because we are not there.
Research from a study in South Korea showed that participants that took “microbreaks”, which included getting a cup of coffee, chatting with co-workers, or just staring out the window for a few minutes, had increased positive mood at the end of the day and in some cases actually increased their productivity. Another factor was that the days that were particularly busy or there were strict deadlines were the days that “doing nothing in particular” was especially helpful. My favorite "doing-nothing" activity is to go out to my garden in my backyard and focus on the bees working in the flowers, I have found it to be very restorative!
Whether it is cranking up the music to increase the intensity or to zone out with an instrumental melody, listening to music can create that loss of time and space getting us into rest mode.
Interestingly, being alone was a top 5 contender for the most restful activity, while socializing with friends/family did not make the top ten list. It is necessary to note that for being alone to be considered restful and not slip into loneliness, it was found that it was important to remember all the meaningful connections that you do have. I want to re-emphasize it is the quality not quantity of the relationships. A major factor of whether being alone is restful is whether you have a choice in being alone.
Psychologists have studied why we find nature so relaxing and found that it is in part because of the patterns we find. The more repetition in the landscape, the more we enjoy it. This is potentially due to the "restoration theory”, which hypothesizes that it gives us mental space and requires little effort in terms of our focus and concentration. Nature is the gentle reminder that as time passes, there is hope and renewal.
Reading was found to be the #1 most restful activity! It is still a mystery as to why reading is such a restful activity. One hypothesis is that it takes us out of ourselves. The other hypothesis is that it allows our minds to wander and ponder. No matter the reason, don't be afraid to cuddle up on the couch (or in nature) and enjoy your favorite book!
Now that you know what the top ten most restful activities are, take some time to figure out which activities are most restful and restoring to you. We hope you find what works for you and feel refreshed and restored!
If you are wanting some accountability or help with figuring out what activities are restful to you, reach out to one of IOME's Trained Supporters. Click HERE to schedule a free phone consultation with Becky, the founder!
Please reach out to me at [email protected] for further questions or feedback.
Together we are better,