The weekly sabbath used to ensure that people would actually get rest, but weekends are now just an extension of the weekday, and people are no less busy than they were on Friday.
People are working more extreme hours. The United States is the only advanced economy that doesn’t mandate vacation at the national level. Over one-third of employees eat lunch at their desks and more than 50 percent assume they cannot take vacations. Instead of the pursuit of happiness, you’re on the fast track to burn out.
People want productivity, fulfillment and health, but fail to realize the importance of rest in cultivating productivity. Whether you want to promote creativity, prevent depression, or something in between, check out these 5 ways that a symbiosis of work and rest can improve your life:
1. Rest Prevents Depression
Finishing a big project can lead you to a variety of emotions from sheer exhaustion to “post-project depression.” When you don’t reflect on achievements, you forget that you accomplished anything at all. As tempting as it is to jump onto the project, take some time to rest and reflect.
Think about what you learned in the process of competing your project and you’ll actually release some brain chemicals to ward off negative feelings and give you extra kick for the next goal.
2. Rest = Mental Sharpness
Your brain is a muscle and needs mental downtime just like your body needs rest from the gym. Henry Ford recognized the importance of rest for productivity when he reduced the workday from 12 to 8 hours and closed on weekends.
3. Rest Fuels Creativity
When asked why he took mental breaks during painting, Leonardo Da Vinci said: “The greatest geniuses sometimes accomplish more when they work less.” If you work in a knowledge economy, your strength comes from the power of your ideas, and your brain is wired for ideas and inspiration to hit you while you’re at rest.
4. Rest Promotes Productivity
Who doesn’t want to get more down in less time? Experts call leisure “the new productivity”. Studies consistently connect rest with increased efficiency. In contrast, working longer hours and skipping rest days actually reduces productivity. And rest means more than one beach vacation once a year, it should be part of your 24-hour cycle.
A recent Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity, not to mention what missing sleep does to your mind and body!
5. Rest Boosts Physical Health
Over-working weakens your immune system and makes you more prone to sickness. You’ll be forced to take sick days or end up being fatigued and less productive. Why not work better andplay better?
Balancing work and rest takes effort, but try these tips to get started on healthier work-rest habits:
- Take rest days every week.
- Add regular breaks into your workday schedule, ideally following the power pattern of working for 90-minute intervals and then taking a breather.
- Get enough sleep! Studies show that sleeping more than 6 hours a night increases work performance while sleeping less than that decreases it.
- Take all your vacation days!
- Relax and celebrate your accomplishments.
Remember that energy is your very own renewable resource that can make your time more valuable.