“And on the seventh day, God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all his work that He had done” Genesis 2:2.
Another cup of coffee, another energy drink, and another sleepless night, yet the mountain of assignments never seems to shrink. College can be a hard place to find a healthy work/life balance. As burnout rates rise, mental health among college students is plummeting. Many college students neglect the crucial art of rest, and it shows in their quality of life. As human beings, rest is a crucial part of our lives. With the rise of hustle culture, recreation is pushed back in order to make time for more work. We have been taught that if we are not actively being productive, then we are being lazy.
This mentality is not only wrong but damaging to our brains, bodies, and souls. Our society punishes healthy work habits and encourages overworking. Contrary to this mentality, mental health experts have begun to teach the benefits of taking breaks while working and maintaining stable sleep schedules. Read on for a list of the top three benefits of rest:
1. Enhanced productivity
When people are well-rested, their ability to produce quality work is boosted. It may sound counterproductive because you are no longer getting things done. However, burnout greatly disrupts your ability to put forth quality work. Studies suggest the human brain can operate for 13 hours a day and only be creative for six. Charles Darwin, who was known as incredibly productive, never worked for more than 90 minutes at a time.
2. Enhanced creativity
Studies suggest that when a person is resting, creativity has a chance to emerge and run free. Suppose you are struggling heavily with imagination or developing ideas for a project. This could be a sign that you need a break to allow your creative juices to recharge!
3. Reduces stress
According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress destroys the body. It damages your heart, lungs, brain, and nervous system. Stress levels are best controlled through exercise, sleep, and breaks. Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone” and in excess, it damages the body and the brain. A healthy sleep schedule reduces your cortisol levels, leading to a healthier body and mind.
So how do we recharge?
One thing that helps me create breathing space while doing assignments is apps like Flow. Flow includes automatic timers that keep track of how long you have been working and then alert you when you need to take a break. It suggests a short break after twenty minutes of working and then after four sessions of work, it encourages you to take a longer break. In my personal experience, this has helped my productivity and creativity. I’ve had situations where I felt completely out of words, and even after just a five-minute break, my brain recuperates. In my five-minute breaks, I often take a quick walk around the library or my dorm room to help release some of the tension from my body.
Another way to utilize the benefits of rest is to make rest a non-negotiable in your life. For me, I observe a 24-hour period where I am not allowed to do school. Twenty-four hours is a long period of time, so feel free to begin with a shorter period of time when first starting to implement intentional rest into your lifestyle. But I encourage you to make the time and then expand it.
There is a common perspective that there are only specific types of rest that are helpful. However, scientifically, it doesn’t matter what type of rest you engage in. It could be watching a video or going for a walk, whatever makes you feel rejuvenated. Rest is a crucial part of productivity, and you can not optimize your potential without observing the needs of your body, mind, and soul. My phrase to remind myself to rest is: “Treat yourself like a sentient houseplant. Give yourself sun, water, and air, so you can flourish and produce fruit.”