Rest

This week I’ve been reading a book called Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. I had heard it highly recommended on a podcast so I toddled along to the library and placed myself on the hold list and got hold of a copy. I was number 2 on the list for this book, not number 60 like I am for a book called Educated by Tara Westover. You might get a book report on that one too but you’re going to be waiting a while.

Anyway, Rest is one of those books that looks at the science behind resting – fMRIs and studies of various student groups, and all that kind of stuff. It also looks at the lives of great achievers through history – great politicians, authors, artists, and scientists – and shows us how they incorporated rest into their lives, encouraging us to do the same.

When Alex talks about rest, he’s talking about sleeping well at night, napping, walking, vigorous exercise (like marathons, or rock climbing), and immersive hobbies (like chess or building an 18 ft robot giraffe). All of these are aspects of rest and help renew our minds so that we can work better and more creatively.

He nowhere mentions watching TV or movies or surfing social media as aspects of rest.

When Moz and I were first married we lived in a little granny flat out the back of a friend’s house. For the first few months we had no television. (And no computer. Almost no one had a computer back then. It’s really crazy to think about that.)

We didn’t miss it very much at all. We read, we chatted, visited with friends. It wasn’t a problem most of the time. But there were some days I remember coming home and really wanting to sit and stare and be entertained. So I think that TV has its place in the list of restful activities.

But I also think TV-watching has a very limited ability to refresh us. It is so easy to keep watching, keep flicking to the next Netflix show, when it would be much better for us to either sleep, or walk, or read. Any of those things would be ultimately more refreshing. I can spend a day watching TV and be more exhausted at the end than I was at the beginning.

Social media is similar. I love to just scroll through my feed when I’m feeling tired. But the scroll can become never-ending and you can end up more tired than when you started. And more disturbed and emotionally unwell too, depending on the content that comes up.

It’s important for our brains to feel boredom. To spend a little bit of time not being entertained. The flickering low-level entertainment of TV and social media is a short-term gain but a long-term loss for our well-being. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, I’m not saying anything new. But maybe it’s important to check what we are doing when we’re trying to rest, and see whether it actually helps us to feel rested or not.

It’s easy to read Rest and to add a checklist of new activities that you now have to tick off in order to achieve greatness. To feel pressure to add more of these ‘restful activities’ to your week. But I’m sure that’s not what Alex Pang intended.

Instead, if you’re feeling like you should be working more and more and harder and harder to get things done so that you will achieve what you are made for, this book will give you good scientific and historical evidence that making time to rest is essential for good work. And it will give you some good suggestions for what this rest could look like.

Rest, after all, is included in our instruction manual. Let’s include it in our lives.

 

Are you missing some of my blog posts? Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

Advertisements

Thank you to friends near and far

Sometimes in our lives we need to feel the closeness of friends and family. This is one of those times. My Grandmother passed away on Sunday night at the ripe old age of nearly 100 and an anchor is gone from our lives.

But like the rest of the world, we don’t live in a tight knit community where our family is right around the corner. Some of us were there, together, when Granny passed, but some of us were far away.

The thing is that technology brought us all together anyway. Our phones and social media meant that wherever we were we could connect with each other and grieve together.

Many of us got together today to celebrate Granny’s life. But those who just couldn’t be there will still be able to see a recording of the service, and we’ll share photos and videos of our time together too.

Our family has had a group chat on Facebook for years now. It was set up so that we could keep  everyone linked in to news about Granny when she was unwell but it has grown to mean so much more than that. All our news has been shared as it has happened. And not just news. Hilarious child quotes and photographs. Puns and Dad jokes. The Family Chat has it all. We have grown closer as a family and gained so much.

Several members of the family have shared just how comforting it has been to have the support of our friends through this time. Again, and I don’t want this to be an ad for Facebook necessarily, but that’s the social media I use, and my Facebook friends have been such a blessing.

One little status update gets responses of hearts and tears in the emoticons, and comments sharing love and memories listed long underneath. It means so much to me. It really does.

It’s not only friends far away either. Meeting with friends in the supermarket and getting hugs. Or the gorgeous person who saw me lunching with my brother and paid our bill for us. Or the good friend who stepped up to be there for me today, just in case she was needed. It’s a blessing to be a part of this community.

Sometimes when you are putting thoughts out into the void on a blog like this you can forget that the people who are reading your thoughts are people too. I just listened to a podcast where a blogger said that she was travelling and a reader said to her, ‘You’re near me. Come and drop in for coffee.’ And she did. How cool was that? A relationship built over the internet and confirmed in person. So great.

You all are my friends. I am so encouraged to see when people have read my blog, and I love to read the comments you post. I love that technology brings us together. What I share here is from my heart to yours and I hope you can feel that.

I may not have a lot of money but I am rich, so wealthy in the friendships that surround me. I want to thank you all for being a part of my life and for the richness and comfort you bring to me.

That’s all really, dear readers, dear friends. Thank you.