Last time (see previous blog post), we looked at the damaging impact of certain facets of our modern lifestyles. Our excessive use of technology, and our unhealthy cultural preoccupation with productivity, has clearly had a costly effect on our overall well-being. As a result, burnout and chronic health conditions have been on the rise globally and there has been a significant decline in our mental health.
So how exactly do we move from such a state of stress to one where we thrive?
The answer lies in making mental rest breaks a priority in your life! Not only will you feel more relaxed and happy, you may also find that your productivity might just skyrocket!
Mental Rest as an Antidote to Stress
It’s important to remind ourselves of the profound benefits of taking time out for mental rest. Sometimes when we are at our busiest and most stressed, rest can almost seem counter-productive…
However, it is at times like this that perhaps we benefit the most from taking care of ourselves and making mental rest a priority.
In fact research suggests quite the opposite – taking rest breaks is far from a waste of time. Regularly detaching from your work tasks - both during the working day and in your off-hours, not only helps to restore energy in the short term, it also prevents burnout in the long term.
According to Charlotte Fritz, PhD, an associate professor in industrial/organisational psychology at Portland State University:
“Taking regular breaks helps us to be more resilient when stressors arise, and they function as an intervention to help us deal with the daily grind.”
Other benefits of mental rest include:
- Increased ability to concentrate and pay attention
- Better productivity
- Enhanced creativity
- Healthier immune system
- Improved mood and sleep
- Optimized metabolism
So the next time you feel too busy to take a break, remember rest is actually productive!
The Frequency of Mental Rest
What exactly does it look like for the body to be in a state of mental rest?
From simply observing changes in brainwave frequency, scientists can tell a great deal about a person’s mental state, indicating whether we are in a state of relaxation or one of stress.
Brainwaves are measured in cycles per second (Hertz or Hz), and the speed and frequency of such wavelengths have been shown to have a dramatic effect on our consciousness and mood.
When we are in a state akin to mental rest, or if we are feeling relaxed, meditative, dreamy, or experiencing moments of enhanced intuition or creativity, slower brainwaves are present. Conversely, higher brainwave frequencies are exhibited when feelings of excitement, speed and strength are generated. However, an excessively high frequency over an extended period of time can lead to stress, anxiety disorder, burnout and depression (Human Race 4.0: The Science of Getting Ahead in the New World Order, Shu-Tze. 2021).
Cleary there are many benefits to the brain operating from these lower frequency brainwave states, which is why prioritising mental rest has such a profound impact on one’s overall productivity and efficiency!
How To Get Mental Rest
So how exactly do we practically go about reaching these lower brainwave states and actually getting mental rest?
Here are some simple ways to incorporate mental rest breaks into your life:
- Prioritise self-care
Light your favourite candle and take an Epsom salt bath or apply a pampering facemask. Get cosy on the couch or cook your favourite nourishing meal whilst listening to relaxing music.
Or maybe your act of self-care might simply be enjoying an early morning coffee, listening to the birds sing before the world wakes up. Do whatever makes you happy!
- Move mindfully
This can simply look like rolling out your yoga mat after a long day, or even just for a midday break, and doing some simple, gentle stretches. Or you might choose to step outside for a few minutes and perhaps try some grounding...or even just a relaxing stroll in your favourite nature spot, soaking up that healing natural light.
- Breathe deeply
Being aware of our breath and practicing mindful breathing is a simple tool that anyone can use to bring us back into the present moment. Simply close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Feel your feet on the ground, the weight of your body in the chair…as you inhale slowly and exhale all your worries away…
It’s no secret the incredible health benefits of meditation. Studies have shown that meditation can help reduce cortisol, which is the hormone associated with stress. It also increases melatonin levels to help with more restful sleep. Other science-based benefits of mediation include lengthened attention span and improved productivity, less anxiety and overall improved mood and general wellbeing.
Meditation has been shown to thicken the pre-frontal cortex. This is the brain centre that is responsible for higher-order brain functions like increased awareness, concentration and decision-making. With meditation, changes in the brain show that these higher-order brain functions become stronger.
Luckily here at Envol, we’ve got you covered! For the ultimate escape from it all, why not treat yourself and try out our Rest and Repair meditation? Or transport yourself to another world and have a listen to one of our 3D Sound Journey audios and feel all that tension just melt away...