Life is stressful. Everyone deals with tension from work, home life, and the occasional existential crisis. We all handle stress in different ways. Yet, which method is best?
The largest survey ever conducted on rest, The Rest Test, contained over 18,000 responses from 135 countries. Researchers asked participants which activities they found most restful and released the top 10. In order, here’s the list: reading, being in the natural environment, being on your own, listening to music, doing nothing in particular, walking, having a bath or shower, daydreaming, watching TV, and meditating or practicing mindfulness. Stunning to some but expected to others is that 58% of all people said they found reading restful.
Listen, there is no one size fits all approach to finding which rest technique best suits you. We are all different and have heightened levels of stress in particular areas. Maybe you sit at work all day, and the thought of your body deteriorating every day because of this prolonged sitting consumes your mind. In response, you take frequent walks at work, which puts your mind at ease. Perhaps your career and home life are riddled with pressure-laden deadlines, measurables, and time-sensitive tasks, such as daily quotas, weekly conversion rate benchmarks, kids basketball, tennis, and ballet practices. Maybe you manage your non-stop, go, go, go, everyday life by practicing mindfulness, which could include having quiet alone time, holding periodic deep-breathing sessions, or meditating.
Rest is highly vital to everyday living as a human being. When you don’t get enough rest, a vicious cycle starts. You begin to feel fatigued, which typically results in a mental fog and a decrease in self-awareness. Being less alert could lead to accidents both on the job and in your personal life. Usually, when you don’t get sufficient rest while awake, your sleep suffers, leading to severe health-related concerns. The repercussions are endless. The point is, there’s no way around solid rest. Think of it like this; rest is your sleep when you’re awake.
The most intriguing activities to rest I found on the list were being around nature, solitude, doing nothing, watching TV, and mindfulness. Nature always makes me feel at ease. Give me a hammock, a picturesque mountain view, a slight breeze, and the sounds of nature: tree leaves rustling in the wind, birds chirping, and a water stream, and I am sure to come out on the other side of this nature-style rest period more relaxed than before I came into it. I found it odd that watching television made a list for resting activities simply because it’s not one of the first things I equate to relaxation. Then again, give me a competitive basketball game, and I almost immediately relax.
Alone time is very critical in terms of rest. It’s a healthy habit to instill into your routine. More specifically, being by yourself allows you to be with your own thoughts, uninterrupted. This thought strikes fear into many people but being alone is often where you can be still, examine your thoughts and ambitions, and plan accordingly. Doing nothing speaks for itself and doesn’t at the same time. You’d think it’d be the easiest of all rest methods, but we constantly overthink.
Therefore, it’s usually challenging for many of us to do nothing. However, one of the best feelings for me is when I literally have no responsibilities, obligations, or commitments. For me, that feeling, no matter how abbreviated it may be, provides rest. Lastly, mindfulness works wonders for me. There’s nothing like sitting still, planting yourself into the ground, taking deep breaths, letting your thoughts come and go, and by doing so, feeling the tingling sensation of rest and relaxation.
The most important takeaway is finding which method of rest works for you. No matter how many studies are conducted or self-help articles we read, there’s nothing like trying a multitude of rest techniques yourself and seeing which ones resonate with you. It’s also productive to have a variety of rest methods under your belt, considering you may not always be able to complete some of them. Once you have a handful of techniques, ensure you take care of yourself by following through and making them a priority in your daily life. After all, rest is the best remedy for stress.