Rest (2016) by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang emphasizes the misconception the longer you work, the more you are able to get done. Pang is the founder of the Restful Company, a consultancy firm that teaches organizations to develop a better work culture by balancing work and life through talks and workshops. He has done a study on how long office hours leads to burnout and how one can change it, which is especially meant for workaholics, creatives and anyone who works tirelessly.
In today’s culture, there is always a ‘yes’ to work and a ‘no’ to rest. There is a proverb which says ‘Hard work is the key to success’, but we have mistaken ‘hard work’ to be ‘overwork’. This is what the Silicon Strategist had realized and through various scientific evidence understood that life has to be lived leisurely and not only with luxury. Through various researches, he realized that a healthy, sane and different work culture would give space for rest, relaxation and recovery.
Creativity comes when body and mind are fresh. Early mornings are the best time to pour out creativity and reflect on the day’s work as both the mind and body would be fresh and active. Research in the 1980s at a music conservatory showed that the best young musicians woke up at five ‘o’clock in the morning and practised for four hours and slept an hour longer than their peers. This shows that it is better to work intensely for a short span of time than work half-heartedly for a whole day which is only a waste of time.
Another difficult for people today is to recover. The best treatment to recover from any energy-depleting mental workout is to go for a long walk or take a short nap. Walking is closely related to creativity. William Hamilton, a nineteenth-century mathematician who developed a famous postulate in the field of Algebra, stated that this idea came to him while he went for a walk along Ireland’s Royal Canal along with his wife.
Taking a short nap in another great method to rejuvenate. This helps in controlling emotions and fosters information retention. Olaf Lahl, a sleep scientist at the University of Dusseldorf, Germany, conducted a study in 2008 to show the role of midday nap in rejuvenation. Two groups of students were asked to memorize thirty unfamiliar words in two minutes. One group was allowed to take a nap before the test, while the other sat awake the whole time. At the end of the test, the former group who took a nap scored a higher number of words than the latter group. This enables one to understand the importance of a midday nap to recover and work better.
Another tool that supports creativity is to stop at the right moment. It is better not to overextend when a new idea comes in as it tires you even before you start. Ernest Hemingway, a writer, says that incubation is the key to creative works. A task was given to two groups of students to test their creativity where all were given a piece of white paper. One group was made to switch to a different analytical task before coming to the puzzle. This group seemed to be more creative than the group that worked without interruption. Hence, the brain does not lose focus when you stop for a moment, but it comes up with new thoughts and ideas.
Sleep is necessary for human beings. A proper night sleep protects one from degenerative conditions and helps to make good decisions as the mind reviews the day’s experiences and repairs the body. Night shift workers and others missing out on sleep may suffer from sleep deprivation and other health complications like heart disease and cancer. Like sleep, vacation is also vital for employees who work tirelessly as it may lead them to depression and serious health issues like a heart attack. Vacation is the period where the body and mind rest, relaxes and rejuvenate, so, it is necessary to maximize the rest period.
Physical exercise is good for both the mind and the body as it keeps us fit and active. Academic excellence and memory are accompanied by physical fitness as it helps the brain function more effectively. Similarly, art is a deep play. Not only art, but any activity that deeply rewards you is a leisure activity which absorbs small details and provides respite, strategy and helps to solve problems in a low-stake context.
Therefore, waking up early, walking, a short nap, good sleep, exercise, cultivating hobbies, going out for a vacation not only keeps one’s physical and mental health strong but it allows the creativity inside a person, increases concentration and helps in cognitive performance.
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