Rest is essential for our wellbeing, relationships and health. However, there is another key benefit to rest which is often overlooked. In this article, I unpack why rest boosts productivity.
Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges. So relax.Bryant McGill
The overwhelming pace of modern day life
We’re living in a hyper-connected world. It’s common for us to always be “on”. We have multiple apps that demand our attention, connect us with others, and make sure we’re on track with deadlines. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for increasing productivity through automation and delegation. In many ways, these apps can reduce our stress. However, if you’re constantly feeling wired and tired, frazzled and overworked the most important strategy is rest.
Why Rest Boosts Productivity (And Your Health)
I can’t overemphasise the importance of rest for both your health and productivity. When I speak about rest, I’m covering four different dimensions of self-care.
- Physical – yoga, walking, play
- Mental – journaling, coaching, therapy
- Self-reflective – meditation, gratitude practice, spiritual practice
- Social – shared meals, laughter, touch, play
Rest is the foundation for optimal health
Running a coaching practice helping type II diabetics put their diabetes into remission, I saw a distinct improvement in client outcomes when a balance between rest and productivity was struck.
If you’re not prioritising rest and self-care, you will sabotage all of your best efforts with diet and exercise. Stress management is absolutely crucial for health.
No matter what diet you follow, how much exercise you do or organic food you eat, if you’re not managing your stress you will still be at risk for lifestyle illnesses like heart disease, type II diabetes and auto-immune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
The productivity tool: rest enhances your creativity
In a 2014 brain imaging study, it was found that creative thinking was associated with an increased resting brain state. The ability to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions was enhanced.
Do you ever find you have incredible ideas in the shower? That’s the science of rest and creativity. The classic “in the shower” moment when we come up with a creative idea is no accident, it’s the “default mode network”. It’s our behind-the-scenes problem solver that is activated when your attention is not focused on a complex task – showering, walking, spending time in nature.
The productivity tool: rest boosts your resilience and quality of work
Our resilience is about being able to overcome challenges and bounce back stronger than before. Resilience isn’t just about hard work and steamrolling your way through problems. Doing this day in and day out can lead to chronic stress, and ultimately burnout.
When we are able to switch on our “rest and digest” system to counteract our stress response, we’re enhancing our internal capacity to withstand challenges. Our brain activity doesn’t stop when we’re resting. Rather, it processes information and solidifies learnings.
We reach our potential when we are able to move between work and rest – when we allow for this the quality of our work improves, along with our health. In the long term, rest makes us more persistent and productive.
Work = Productivity?
Most people believe that to be productive, you needed to be working. Work equals productivity. That’s not entirely true. For knowledge workers who need to be creative and innovative, finding a balance between “doing” and rest is essential.
Rest is rare unless we’re intentionally reserving time for it. In the next article, I’ll share one change to your week’s schedule that can transform your productivity and tips on how to rest to truly rejuvenate.
Where can you take one step back to take two steps forward?