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Increase creativity and cognitive skills through rest

Can you relate to phrases like “brain fog,” “mind clutter,” “fatigue,” or “insomnia?” Sadly, such issues have become par for the course in the modern world. While I’ll admit it might be easier said than done to eradicate these mal-conditions (new word — just made it up, lol), I do believe it is possible. In fact, studies show that one of the best means to increase creativity and cognitive health is to rest. In addition to resting more, it’s also important to learn how to rest “better.”

All the people throughout your life who have told you that lying around doing nothing is a waste of time were sorely misguided! As it turns out, it’s one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself. As we approach the closing weeks of 2021 and prepare to meet a new year head on, it’s a good time to set goals. If you want to improve your mental, emotional and physical health, then “making rest a priority” should be one of your goals.

Researchers agree that rest can increase creativity

In the fields of neuroscience and psychology, studies have been conducted, resulting in clear evidence that shows that getting more and better rest stimulates creative thinking. I suppose it’s something of a paradox– doing nothing stimulates something in the brain. What would you say if I were to tell you that one of the most important things you can do for your cognitive health is to lie down under an open sky and watch the clouds go by?

It’s been proven that long periods of work without adequate rest causes people to burn out. It also causes a substantial decline in productivity. There’s a certain element of the entrepreneurial world — the hustlers — the movers and shakers — who think that success is only possible for those who never stop working. They claim to thrive on endless amounts of activity. Such people say they get bored or antsy when they sit still. Savvy business people would no doubt agree, however, that they last thing they want for their self-built companies is for productivity to suffer. If only they would realize that the key to success is to regularly stop working and REST.

Idleness and rest and are two separate issues

Resting is not the same as being idle. Idleness is associated with laziness whereas rest is a recovery process. Being idle is disconnecting from your purpose. It’s trying to avoid work. Resting, on the other hand, has the specific purpose of rejuvenating the mind, body and spirit to achieve your full potential when you return to work. Resting has the goal of returning to work in mind. Idleness has the goal of trying never to do work. Rest can increase creativity and vitality. Idleness slowly wears away one’s cognitive skills and overall well-being.

Getting proper rest to increase creativity and improve well-being is a learned skill

When you were a baby, you learned how to sit, then crawl, then walk, then run. Running was instinctive and natural. It was simply part of the developmental process. However, were you automatically able to run like a world-class champion? Of course not! That is a learned skill that takes discipline and education and hours upon hours of practice. The same goes for rest. You might you “know how” to rest because it merely means to “do nothing.” This is only partially true. Yes, resting often involves bringing activities to a halt. You can learn to improve your running skills or learn to breathe better. (Most people don’t even breathe correctly, much less in an optimal way to improve their health and well-being.) Just as you can develop any type of skill, you can also learn to rest better.

You must make rest a priority for it to be effective

Prioritizing restfulness is a step in the right direction when you want to learn how to rest better rather than “more.” You schedule all sorts of things in your life, such as dental appointments, meetings, time to go to church, social events and more. When something is important to you, you make time for it. Rest needs to be important to you. If you leave it to chance, it is unlikely to ever happen in such a way that it becomes beneficial to your health. On the other hand, you can start reaping the benefits of rest right away if you start blocking off time for it. To make the most of restfulness, you should take time to do it every day. You should at least schedule rest time each week.

Good times for resting are evenings, weekends and vacation days. Be honest. You typically multi-task at these times and only half-rest while you work at the same time, right? Think about it. You invite your children or spouse (or dog, lol) to take a walk, then you spend half your time glancing at your cell phone while you do it. There’s a work email you “must” respond to or a text message you’re afraid you’ll forget about if you don’t respond “right now.” What might have been a restful time (i.e. a leisurely and quiet stroll with your loved ones) has turned into a mobile work session.

Avoid this by setting rest parameters

If you want to rest better, you have to be willing to make your rest time, restful. Do NOT take your cell phone with you, if possible. If you think you need to have it on hand in case of emergency, silence it and do NOT touch it, unless you actually have an emergency. Avoid locations that will spark a desire to work. If you work from home, for instance, you might want to spend your rest time outdoors in a quiet location. Is there a nearby creek where you can sit and listen to the water as it babbles by? What about a nearby park where you can sit on a bench under a tree and “people watch”? Consider what “rest” looks like to you, then make a promise to yourself to avoid the things that you know will disrupt your efforts.

Take restful breaks during the day

There is no reason that you should work without stopping for 14 hours per day. It’s actually counter-productive to do so. To get better rest, make it a priority to take several 15 to 20 minute breaks in your day. If you work for an employer, there are state laws about such things. Make sure you are taking the breaks you’re entitled to during your work day. When you take a break at work, make it restful. Step outside for some fresh air, breathe deeply or, perhaps, create a playlist of quiet, mood music on your phone that you can enjoy during break time.

Rest can involve activity

While it’s always good to be still and do nothing for a time, rest can also include activity. It just can’t include work. If you have a hobby, such as gardening or hiking or painting, etc., you probably find yourself feeling rested after you do it. So, go ahead and do it — often. Reading a book for pleasure, cooking, taking a bath, writing (for pleasure) or any activity that calms your nerves, helps your mind de-clutter and creates a feeling of well-being is restful.

If you’re like most people, you need more rest in your life. Learning to rest “better” will not only increase creativity and productivity, it will restore your mind, body and spirit so that you can improve your health and live your best life!

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