Have you ever heard the phrase “You get more done, doing nothing at all”? No? Well, you will after today. It turns out that sometimes, being busy- can be almost a bad word.
Today we speak with Alex Soojung-Kim Pang PhD, founder of Strategy and Rest, author of four books (most recently Shorter) and advocate for the benefits of rest and a shortened work week. He shares with us what his research shows about not only the benefits of rest, but also why being busy all the time, may not be that beneficial after all.
Now, before you throw your arms up in disbelief and curse my name, give me a moment to explain.
I personally have a problem shutting my brain off. Just plain sitting down and doing nothing. I feel like every minute that goes by is a minute I could have checked 2 more things off my never ending to-do list.
Spend more time playing with my son. CHECK!
Don’t forget doing the same for my daughter. CHECK!
Get through another chapter of that great book I started last week. CHECK!
Wrote my weekly grocery shopping list. CHECK!
Answered just a few more emails. CHECK!
But as it turns out, filling all my time with my to-do list actually stifles my brain’s ability to think creatively.
Hmmmm. That’s no bueno.
So I asked Alex to help me better understand why being busy wasn’t the best thing for me.
He pointed out that rest isn’t really optional like many of us feel like it is (hence the saying “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”). He goes on to note that “work and rest are partners, each one supporting and sustaining the other.” Alex shared that “from a scientific point of view, rest is essential for improved learning, for maintaining both physical health, obviously but also mental health. And over the long run, it’s essential as a kind of strategic defense against things like chronic illnesses, depression, burnout, even Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementias.”
So how do we get that ideal balance of rest and work?
Here are the 4 most important things to help you achieve that balance!
Find a hobby that you love
It’s so important that you find yourself a hobby, any hobby, that involves something that you love!
Alex shared a great story in our recent podcast about Winston Churchill and how much he enjoyed painting. It gave him all the things he loved, like creativity and creating something just for him, without all the frustration of the Labour Party coming back and erasing his work (oh the joys of politics!). I relate it to cleaning my house and my kids coming through right behind me and “erasing” all my cleanliness!
Your brain needs downtime
So here’s a really interesting thing about your brain…it has this amazing process where basically works on auto pilot! Don’t believe me? Just think back to all those times where you did a task without much though about the process: unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, driving to the grocery store.
This is due to something called the Default Mode Network and it activates when our attention is not focused on something in particular and your thoughts wonder off. Want to hear the really cool part?
Your brain keeps working on problems even without you putting conscious effort into it because the DMN connects parts of the brain that are connected with creativity and connection.
READ: Mastering Me Time
You may need to shift your rest time
While it’s important to recognize your body’s natural circadian rhythms sometimes you may need to shift from being a night owl to an early bird or vice versa. Why?
Because one thing is always certain- you are parent. And that isn’t going to change anytime soon. That means all our parenting duties like feeding our kids, cleaning up our house, playing with our kids, and ensuring our children get their needed rest are stopping anytime soon!
So in order to find the time to enjoy a task just for you, you may need to get up early in the morning, before everyone else, or stay up late after all have gone to bed. It’s important that you find that time for yourself, in whatever way you need to do it. Just remember that it may take a few weeks to get your body on board with this new schedule.
You need something outside being a mom
If you have been following us for even a short while- you’ve heard us say this before (hint: it’s one of our No Guilt Mom Mindsets)…
I NEED MY OWN THING APART FROM BEING A MOM.
Moms need their own thing. Period. They need their own accomplishments that go beyond raising their family.
But what if you have no idea what you want to do with yourself? Alex suggests you look back to activities that you enjoyed when you were younger. Did you play a sport? Play an instrument? Enjoy photography? Revisit some of those childhood activities that you enjoyed and chances are they will spark a new interest for you that was once long forgotten.
To hear more from Alex on how important rest is and more about his book Rest, listen to the entire podcast episode.
Resources We Shared:
The best mom is a happy mom. To better take care of you, download our No Guilt Mom mindset here . These reminders will help you second guess less, and feel more confidence every day in your parenting.