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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 June 20, 2019

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

There’s nothing quite like picking up a guitar and strumming out some chords. Listening to someone playing the guitar can be mesmerising, it can evoke emotion and a good guitar riff can bring out the best of a song. Many guitar players find a soothing, meditative quality to playing, along with the essence of creating music or busting out an acoustic version of their favourite song. But how does playing the guitar affect the brain?

More and more scientific studies have been looking into how people who play the guitar have different brain functions compared to those who don’t. What they found was quite astonishing and backed up what many guitarists may instinctively know deep down.

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Guitar Players’ Brains Can Synchronise

You didn’t read that wrong! Yes, a 2012 study[1] was conducted in Berlin that looked at the brains of guitar players. The researchers took 12 pairs of players and got them to play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned.

During the experiment, they found something extraordinary happening to each pair of participants – their brains were synchronising with each other. So what does this mean? Well, the neural networks found in the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and music production were most activated when the participants were playing their instruments. In other words, their ability to connect with each other while playing music was exceptionally strong.

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Guitar Players Have a Higher Intuition

Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” and this is exactly what’s happening when two people are playing the guitar together.

The ability to synchronise their brains with each other, stems from this developed intuitive talent indicating that guitar players have a definite spiritual dexterity to them. Not only do their brains synchronise with another player, but they can also even anticipate what is to come before and after a set of chords without consciously knowing. This explains witnessing a certain ‘chemistry’ between players in a band and why many bands include brothers who may have an even stronger connection.

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This phenomenon is actually thought to be down to the way guitarists learn how to play – while many musicians learn through reading sheet music, guitar players learn more from listening to others play and feeling their way through the chords. This also shows guitarists have exceptional improvisational skills[2] and quick thinking.

Guitar Players Use More of Their Creative, Unconscious Brain

The same study carried out a different experiment, this time while solo guitarists were shredding. They found that experienced guitar players were found to deactivate the conscious part of their brain extremely easily meaning they were able to activate the unconscious, creative and less practical way of thinking more efficiently.

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This particular area of the brain – the right temporoparietal junction – typically deactivates with ‘long term goal orientation’ in order to stop distractions to get goals accomplished. This was in contrast to the non-guitarists who were unable to shut off the conscious part of their brain which meant they were consciously thinking more about what they were playing.

This isn’t to say that this unconscious way of playing can’t be learnt. Since the brain’s plasticity allows new connections to be made depending on repeated practice, the guitar player’s brain can be developed over time but it’s something about playing the guitar in particular that allows this magic to happen.

Conclusion

While we all know musicians have very quick and creative brains, it seems guitar players have that extra special something. Call it heightened intuition or even a spiritual element – either way, it’s proven that guitarists are an exceptional breed unto themselves!

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Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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