The Importance of Rest
The weather might be deceiving, but it’s summer here in the UK. The summer period is typically associated with holidays – an opportunity for people to rest and reset before returning to work. Whilst going on holiday may be a luxury, taking the time to rest is a necessity. Regardless of how busy life may seem, resting and unplugging is vital to your wellbeing.
What defines rest?
Individually, we all have different ideas of the perfect way to rest after a long day, but research argues that rest from work is characterised by different recovery processes that help us to rewind and destress from the workplace (1), including:
- Psychological Detachment: Whereby we discontinue any work-related thought processes – whilst we can physically be away from the workplace, our minds can often still be working during non-working hours.
- Relaxation: Participation in leisure activities that require low effort and reward you with increased positive affect – for example meditation, reading a book, enjoying a film etc.
- Mastery experiences: Distraction through challenging activities or opportunities for learning – for example exercise, learning a new language, taking up a new hobby etc.
- Control: The opportunities to control how we spend our time outside of work – to be able to control the events in our lives is generally desirable, but the opportunity to control how we rest outside of work is associated with lower distress and better well-being.
Alongside these processes, the term “rest” is often used interchangeably with sleep (2), however the two are distinguishable through the benefits that they both provide.
Why do we need rest?
Sleep is essential, for obvious reasons like fatigue, however also for reasons that scientists are still researching. For example, sleep has been identified to play a crucial in processing and storing information to form memories (3). The benefits of sleep tend to be physiological, whereas the benefits provided by rest are associated more with the mind and well-being.
Some of the most important benefits of rest include:
- Preventing burnout – Researchers further suggest that one of the essential steps to prevent burnout, which is associated with a range of negative mental health consequences (4), is allowing ourselves to rest (5). Taking the time to rest, both after work or during holidays, allows us to reset and help prevent feelings of being overwhelmed by the stress we experience at work.
- Building resilience – Rest can help us proactively prepare for the challenges we face at work. By giving ourselves time to ‘recharge the batteries’, we’re allowing ourselves to return to a positive mindset and build better resilience against any stress we might experience at work (6).
Increasing productivity – Taking time off to disconnect and recharge helps our brains recover from fatigue. Coming back to work feeling well-rested and refreshed makes us feel more energised and motivated thus increasing our overall productivity. Research further supports this, suggesting that greater use of annual leave is associated with greater productivity (7).
It was reported that in 2022 that over 60% of workers didn’t take all of the annual leave they were entitled to (8). Reasons for this varied, with some workers preferring to receive extra pay for their unused time off, whereas others felt pressure from management to not use up their annual leave.
It’s important to use the time off that we are entitled to and give ourselves time to rest and enjoy life. Taking time to rest and recharge is an act of self-compassion that allows us to prioritise our wellbeing.
As Eleanor Brown says:
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
How Impact can help:
Giving ourselves time to rest after work is a necessary act of self-care. Our experienced coaches can work with individuals to help identify ways to practice self-care, support wellbeing and prevent negative outcomes such as burnout. We at Impact also offer wellbeing workshops and programmes to help explore self-compassion and build resilience. To find out more about how we can help, you can get in touch with us here.
1: Sonnentag, S., & Fritz, C. (2007). The Recovery Experience Questionnaire: development and validation of a measure for assessing recuperation and unwinding from work. Journal of occupational health psychology, 12(3), 204
2: Nurit, W., & Michal, A. B. (2003). Rest: A qualitative exploration of the phenomenon. Occupational therapy international, 10(4), 227-238.
3: Rasch, B., & Born, J. (2013). About sleep’s role in memory. Physiological reviews.
5: Chandler, D. J. (2009). Pastoral burnout and the impact of personal spiritual renewal, rest-taking, and support system practices. Pastoral Psychology, 58, 273-287.
Rest taking identified as essential for burnout prevention