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Why Rest Days are Important for Higher Efficiency at Work

Why Rest Days are Important for Higher Efficiency at Work

For centuries, humans have understood that rest is fundamental to success, health, and happiness. As the saying goes, “Even God rested on the seventh day.” Traditionally, humans have too – thanks in no small part to the practice of the weekly Sabbath (a core component of Judeo-Christian cultures) that’s observed by millions of people around the globe.

But over the past few decades, more and more workers are foregoing their day of rest in exchange for more hours at the office (especially in the Western world). The ubiquitous quest for productivity has driven many of us to give up on having consistent rest days altogether. Nowhere is this truer than in the United States, which is the only advanced economy that doesn’t mandate vacation policy at the national level.

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But counterintuitive as it may be, the real secret to increased efficiency at work might actually lie in working less – and resting more. Here’s what your work life stands to gain from making rest days a priority.

1. You’ll keep your brain sharp

The brain operates like a muscle — meaning that, just like your biceps, it can get worn out and fatigued if you use it too much, and it needs rest in order to recover. In fact, down time is essential for boosting motivation, learning from the past, planning for the future, processing new information, making memories, problem solving, maintaining your ability to concentrate, and even sustaining a personal code of ethics. Without these core mental processes, it’s going to be pretty tough to achieve anything efficiently. In other words? Down time is perhaps one of the most essential ingredients for continued workplace success.

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2. You’ll be more creative

More and more research confirms that regularly giving your mind a break promotes creativity, while failing to take rest days can erode innovative thinking. This might explain those flashes of insight that come to you in the shower or after a nap – little glimpses of evidence proving that down time is essential for the brain to generate fresh ideas. Heck, it’s even said that Albert Einstein thought up the theory of relativity while out for a bike ride.

3. You’ll get more done (in less time)

Studies consistently find that taking time off from work actually allows you to work more efficiently whenever you get back to the grindstone. In one study, people who were asked to take off one day each work week ended up reporting higher productivity and a greater sense of accomplishment over time. In contrast, pushing yourself to work longer hours and skipping rest days actually reduces productivity in both the short and long term.

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4. You’ll make better decisions

Too much time working without a break can fatigue your brain, reduce your ability to concentrate, put you in a bad mood, and generally put a damper on your emotional capacity. The result is a general depreciation of mental faculties that makes it increasingly difficult to make good plans or decisions. In contrast, regularly taking short breaks and combining them with a weekly rest day will allow your brain to replenish its faculties so that you’re able to make thoughtful and well informed choices at work.

5. You’ll prevent illness

Nothing gets in the way of productivity faster than sniffling through the workday with a box of tissues blocking your monitor or taking the day off because you’re sick as a dog. Rest days help your body and immune system repair themselves so that you’re less likely to get sick – and more likely to keep your head in the game.

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6. You’ll catch up on sleep

Why does this matter to work efficiency, you might ask? Studies consistently show that sleep deprivation reduces your ability to concentrate, makes you more likely to snap at coworkers, and decreases overall work performance. In fact, a Harvard study has estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies around $63 billion per year in the form of lost productivity. In contrast, combining a regular rest day with good sleep habits (such as keeping electronics out of bed, using black-out curtains, and choosing a comfortable mattress) can improve your chances of staying well rested and functioning at max capacity.

7. You’ll have time to review and reflect

Taking some time off gives you the space to assess how things are going at work and make adjustments as necessary. Without taking the time to reflect, you run the risk of maintaining work habits or structures that aren’t actually making your more efficient. A rest day is also a good time to celebrate your accomplishments and refresh your sense of purpose so that you return to work with renewed motivation to get things done.

What all of this boils down to is that the energy and awareness you bring to your work will have a much greater impact on your productivity than the number of hours you spend sitting at a desk. Managing your energy resources in a responsible way by prioritizing regular rest days will allow you to prevent mental and physical burnout so that your mind functions at its best any time you sit down to work.

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Kenny Kline

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

The Neural Knitwork Project

In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

The knitting and neural connection

The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

More mental health benefits from knitting

Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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“People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

The dopamine effect on our happiness

Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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