“Our relentless emphasis on success and productivity has become a form of violence. We have lost the necessary rhythm of life, the balance between effort and rest, doing and not doing.”                                                                                                                      Wayne Muller

I have just started a gap year from my routine work and thought it would be timely to write about ‘rest’ and why that is important for our mental well-being.

The word ‘rest’ is both a verb and noun. As a verb it means to cease work or movement in order to sleep, or recover strength, or it could mean to be placed or supported (arm resting on the chair). As a noun ‘rest’ means an instance or period of resting.

All creatures need rest. This is usually in the form of sleep, which occurs in cycles. Sleep gives our body rest and allows the body and brain to prepare for the next day. Resting is not just about sleep. It is also about taking the time to relax. It is to take the time away from the hustle and bustle of life to do things that one enjoys, such as reading, going for walks or pursuing a hobby. This is hard to come by during our routine work schedules as our brain is programmed to think about what we have to do next and how to be prepared. Our brains have evolved to survive in this world and it works mostly in a survival mode. We need periods of rest, be it the weekends or holidays to give ourselves a break from this survival mode.

‘Rest’ is the opposite of ‘stress’. Recently someone I knew had a heart attack. This person was only forty and collapsed at work. They did not have any predisposing factors like diabetes, blood pressure or other physical problems prior to this. Finally the doctors concluded that this was a result of stress due to overwork. When we are stressed our body produces the stress hormone cortisol excessively. This can cause a number of physical and mental health problems. When we rest there is more secretion of feel good chemicals serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. So rest up, relax and pursue your passions periodically to rejuvenate your mind. 

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…. Including you.                                                                                     Anne Lamott

PC: Noon, rest from work by Van Gogh