The Importance of Rest
The definition of rest is to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. Whether you are taking a moment to close your eyes and put your feet up or take a much-needed vacation, taking the time to rest has many benefits for your health and well-being.
Fewer than half of U.S. employees take all their vacation days according to the Families and Work Institute. Perhaps this is due to employees being concerned about work piling up while they aren’t there or being seen as replaceable. What employees and employers may not know is that rest has actually been shown to improve workplace performance. Just as muscles in the body need rest to grow, resting the mind helps to refocus and rejuvenate. Creative ideas come during downtime when the mind is able to open up and wander. Rest also decreases the number of sick days that employees need. Absenteeism can cost employers anywhere from $2,650-$3,600 per employee per year.
Besides its benefit on workplace performance, rest has been shown to have substantial benefits on cardiovascular health. The State University of New York at Oswego conducted a nine-year study and found that vacationing every year reduced the overall risk by 20 percent and the risk of death by heart disease by 30 percent. Additionally, it's been found that taking time to close your eyes and calm your mind can improve mood, increase alertness and decrease stress. Getting enough rest increases our ability to combat stress by improving judgment and enabling us to find solutions to help cope with the stressors. Furthermore, taking time out of the day to meditate or practice deep-breathing gives your body and mind a chance to recover and recharge when you are feeling run down.
Here are a few ways to add rest into your life:
Take a time-out. Take a time-out and remove yourself from a stressful situation. This can provide both a physical and mental break. It may be helpful to do some breathing exercises or mindful meditation to connect with your emotions, thoughts and body. Taking a time-out can be done by putting down your cellphone, closing your laptop and sitting outside for a few minutes. It can also include some other forms of self-care such as taking a bubble bath or getting a massage.
Take a nap. Taking a 20-30-minute nap during the day can increase productivity and alertness. If you are feeling groggy taking the time to shut your brain off can leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated afterward. If you are feeling sleepy in the middle of the workday, it may be more beneficial to shut your eyes instead of reaching for another cup of coffee. Even if it’s not possible to take a 30-minutes nap, taking 10 minutes to shut your eyes can leave you feeling much more awake.
Go on vacation. Research has found that going on vacation can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease. Rather than getting on a plane to travel to another city during the pandemic use paid vacation time to take a staycation and give your mind and body a refresher. While enjoying your staycation schedule automatic email replies so you can truly disconnect.
Plan your rest day. Plan out a day specifically for rest. Mark your calendar for a day to say "no" to anything that comes up and may interfere with this day. Choose activities that encourage creativity while ignoring the news and your email. If possible, avoid doing things around the home and try planning meals in advance so you don’t have to worry about cooking. Take time to watch a movie you love or start a book you’ve been wanting to read. Do what feels good on your rest day so you feel refreshed when you get back to your busy life.
The next time you are feeling foggy while working, take the time to rest. Not only will it help clear your mind, but it can increase your productivity when you return to work and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Learn more about employee wellness and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Olivia Sellers, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern