😴The Power of Rest
Issue #6, 9/3/2021
Dear Readers: Sharing this with you one day early to encourage you to make the most of leisure time this long weekend. (Next week we return to Saturday posts.)
😴The Power of Rest
Summer’s unofficially over, and it still feels like we need a break. If you’re feeling that way, you’re not alone.
A recent Pew Research Center Study revealed that the pandemic has taken “balance” out of “work-life balance” for scores of Americans. Only 13% of those surveyed mentioned more time for rest and leisure (they tended to be people from higher income and education brackets). For millions of others, the pandemic reduced rest. Frontline workers reported less sleep, and more burnout. Remote workers labored with no boundaries between work and home. In a study by Workplace Intelligence and Oracle, 35% of workers were working 40+ more hours each month, and 25% report burning out from overworking. Nearly half said they log more than eight hours a day, and 68% keep on working through the weekend.
How about you: Are you tempted to keep laboring this Labor Day Weekend?
Research suggests you shouldn’t. In a recently published longitudinal study of nearly 7000 Finnish young people, high leisure activity in adolescence was associated with reduced incidence of mental health disorders later in life.
And it’s not just Finns who need to relax. Studies in the U.S. similarly demonstrate a host of psychological, physical, relational health benefits from rest and leisure. Leisure makes people feel more in control of their lives. It clears the mind of work related stress. It leads to stronger relationships and more friendships and decreases our blood pressure. Ultimately, leisure time makes people healthier and happier.
Why do we need an evidence-based argument in favor of leisure? Isn’t the value of relaxation self-evident?
Sadly, it isn’t.
In the hyper-competitive, always connected, 24-7, hustle and ambition culture of the work world, rest gets a bad rap. We worry constantly about falling behind. We fear that taking time for ourselves will jeopardize our goals, ambitions, and dreams.
Honestly, many of us feel like rest is a waste of time. This perception can profoundly impact whether rest works for us.
A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology reveals how our view of leisure shapes how we experience it. Findings demonstrated that believing that leisure is a waste may sabotage our enjoyment of it. When we relax begrudgingly, we’re denied its benefits. This belief has a rippling effect: considering rest wasteful was associated with lower reported happiness and greater depression.
It’s not just resting that’s important, it’s believing that rest is important that matters.
You know who believes in the power of rest?
The best athletes in the world.
In the last 10 years, the world of sports has seen a shift in the type of people succeeding at the highest levels.
When Tom Brady won the Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP at age 43, he was the oldest player to do so.
When Lebron James won his 4th NBA championship and Finals MVP at the age of 35, he was the second oldest player to do so.
When Allyson Felix won her record-breaking 11th track and field Olympic medal at the age of 35, she was the oldest player to do so.
When Serena Williams won her record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam title at the age of 35, she was the second oldest player to do so.
When Roger Federer ended the 2020 season in the ATP top 100 at the age of 39, he was the oldest player to do so.
Athletes are extending their careers and dominating their sports for longer than ever before. Where athletes’ careers were once over by the early 30’s, now it’s common to see them play well into their 40’s.
Hirofumi Tanaka, a University of Texas researcher on aging attributes long-term success to the Formula One Approach to recovery: you maximize performance by prioritizing nutrition, injury prevention, training . . . and sleep.
No wonder athletes who take success seriously take rest seriously.
Lebron James spends over 1.5 million dollars a year on rest and recovery, including a personal masseuse, biomechanist, chef, and recovery coach. He also naps before every game.
Tom Brady created his own company dedicated to rest and recovery, sleeps 9 hours a night, and asserts that rest is more important than training.
Allyson Felix sleeps 9 hours a night and credits her lengthy and full career to the quality of her recovery routine.
Roger Federer extended his career by playing less tournaments, resting more, and sleeping an astounding 10.5 hours a night.
Far from being a waste of time, rest enhances results. Athletes have realized that if they pace themselves (rather than never taking a day off), they can do better for longer.
So, friends, please enjoy some rest and relaxation this weekend.
Your emails and to-do lists can wait.
The school projects you wanted to “get a jump on” can wait.
Resist the temptation to “hit the ground running” this weekend.
Give yourself permission to take a Leisure Day Weekend this Labor Day Weekend. Science (and sports) prove it will pay off in your long game.
Get Your Bearings
What’s one thing you can do this weekend that brings you joy? When, where and with whom can you do this activity?
Do you know someone who needs help taking rest (and play) more seriously? Please share this post with them by clicking below.
🌴The Scenic Route
Because sometimes we need to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Start the weekend with some visual inspiration for rest: Deep Ocean Studies by Alexx Temena.
What’d you think of this post? Your feedback on this newsletter will help us get it right.