Sometimes, is it best to sit still and do nothing?

20140719_160951With Easter fast approaching (the traffic noticeably quiet this morning as I realised a lot of schools had already broken-up for Easter), I have been thinking about the importance of having a rest and a break. This doesn’t have to be a two week long break such as the school Easter holidays, but it could be a weekend, or a good night’s sleep. Sometimes, after a break, a problem that seemed insurmountable now has a solution.  Your mind and/or body needed some space and you just don’t understand why you never saw it before. Or, there’s a decision you have been labouring over for a long period of time but after a short rest, your mind has had time to digest the pros and cons that have been swimming around in your head and you now feel more confident to take decisive action.

Full-time employees in the UK work the longest hours in Europe which could lead to serious health problems and stress https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/working_time.cfm. However, it was found that they do not actually increase productivity http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/12/working-hours. Furthermore, it was found that to improve output a rest day was important (such as a Sunday) compared to a seven-day work schedule http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/12/working-hours. So next time you think you will stay just a couple more hours in the office to get something done, ask yourself if it is really helping you in the long run – both in terms of your productivity and health (easier said than done, I know!).

Similarly, there is the myth that a day of rest from training wrecks fitness. Runners World says that following difficult bouts of work, a rest lets your body adapt to the work and improve http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/rest-easy. Surely this could be an analogy for other parts of your life?

Without being hypocritical, after speaking to some of my friends about this we all agreed that we are always so busy. Whether this is with work, then going to after work clubs, socialising with friends, volunteering, parties, going out for dinner, training, the list goes on…. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to be busy but I believe there is a fine line between living life and life passing you by. A good example of this is when I get to work and someone asks me what I did for the weekend and I find it difficult to remember as it appears to be one big blur from all the many things I was rushing around to achieve. Or, I sit down on a Sunday night and wonder where the weekend has gone. I heard a term ‘mindfulness’ http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mindfulness.aspx which, according to the NHS is paying more attention to the present moment such as the sights, sounds, smells and tastes, to your own thoughts and feelings as well as the world around. This can have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.

Reading an article from the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/27/daydreaming-sets-mind-to-work-brain-transformed  it would appear that neuroscientists are starting to detect that daydreaming – rather than a lapse of attention – is apparently invaluable for important psychological attributes such as creativity, happiness and planning our future.  Furthermore, Jeff Haden owner of Blackbird Media wrote a post ‘10 Ways to Stop Feeling Overworked and Overwhelmed’. In these top tips he talks about “Giving yourself time for unconscious thought”. He says that it is key to making smart decisions when you are faced with complex problems http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20150326-the-cure-for-work-overload. For example, Haden talks about doing a mindless chore, exercise, but essentially doing something where your body takes over and your mind goes on autopilot.

Perhaps you have lots to be getting on with this Easter break and have many people to meet and visit. But it might just be worth setting aside 10 to 15 minutes this bank holiday weekend to sit and allow your mind to wander, you might get more done than you think!

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