Mental rest: why you need it and how to arrange it

We overload ourselves and do not allow the brain to recover, and mood, memory and productivity suffer from this.

Why is it important to rest

We overload the brain with information

During the day, the brain processes incoming information and conversations for hours. If you do not let him relax, your mood, productivity and health will suffer. Therefore, mental rest is so necessary - periods when you do not concentrate and do not interact with the outside world, but let your thoughts soar in the clouds.

Now we allocate less and less time for such relaxation. “People treat themselves like machines,” says Matthew Edlund, director of the Center for Circadian Medicine in Florida. “They routinely overwork themselves and overwork.”

We think the best way to be successful is to be as productive as possible. But this approach can lead to the opposite result.

Remember that zombie-like state you fall into after a long work meeting or a crazy day spent in chores. You barely think, forget important things, make mistakes and end up doing less than you intended. The constant stressful rhythm of life affects productivity, creativity and happiness.

“The brain needs to rest,” says Stuart Friedman, author of books on leadership and work-life balance. “After a break in mental activity, creative thinking works better, it’s easier for you to make decisions, you begin to enjoy your activities.”

We do not allow the brain to recover

The brain has two main modes of operation. The first is action-oriented. Thanks to it, we concentrate on tasks, solve problems, and process incoming information. It is involved when we work, watch TV, scroll through Instagram, or otherwise interact with information.

In addition, there is a network of passive mode of operation of the brain (SPRM). It turns on when we are inactive, daydreaming or immersed in ourselves. If you've been reading a book and suddenly notice that you don't remember the last two pages, it means that your SPRM has activated and you're thinking about extraneous things. You can stay in this state for hours, for example, while walking through the forest.

SPRM needs to be used every day: it helps the brain recover. According to neuropsychologist Mary Helen Immordino-Young, SPRM helps us consolidate information, understand ourselves and what is happening in our lives. It is associated with good health and creativity.

It is the SPRM that should be thanked for spontaneously solving a problem that was not given to us until we were distracted from it. According to researchers, writers and physicists have at least 30% of their creative ideas when they are doing something that is not related to work. In addition, SPRM plays an important role in the formation of memories. This is actively happening right before falling asleep.

How to Give Yourself a Mental Rest

Breaks should be taken several times during the day. Stuart Friedman advises resting about every 90 minutes or when you start to feel exhausted, unable to concentrate, stuck at work. “Most importantly, stop thinking that rest is a luxury that undermines your productivity,” says Immordino-Young. Just the opposite.

Do something that doesn't require mental effort

Washing dishes, gardening, walking, cleaning and other similar activities are fertile ground for activating the SMRM. Usually we are ashamed to sit back and soar in the clouds, and during such affairs it is just possible to mentally relax.

put down the phone

Most people pick up the phone just out of boredom, but this habit makes it impossible to relax. Try to put your smartphone away and not be distracted by it. For example, when you are standing in line or waiting for someone. Notice how you feel about it. Most likely, at first you will be nervous, but soon you will begin to pay attention to the world around you or immerse yourself in your thoughts.

Spend less time on social media

Social networks are the main enemy of mental relaxation. In addition, they create a wrong idea about someone else's life, because we see only the ideal picture. All this, together with the sad news, causes stress.

For a few days, keep track of how much time you spend on social media and how it makes you feel. Limit the time in them, for example, to 45 minutes a day. Or narrow down your friends list to only those you really enjoy hanging out with.

Get out in nature more often

A walk in the park restores better than walking in the city. In the urban environment, we are constantly surrounded by distractions: traffic horns, cars, people. And the singing of birds, the rustle of leaves and other natural sounds, on the contrary, soothe. In such conditions, it is easier to relax and let go of your thoughts.

Notice the present moment

Try focusing on different muscles in your body. Give each muscle 10-15 seconds. Or every time you drink something, pay attention to the taste and feel. Such actions are a small break for the brain.

Do what you love

Activating the SPRM is not the only way to mentally relax. It is also useful to do things you love, even if they require concentration. For example, reading, tennis, playing a musical instrument, going to a concert will also help you recover. So think about what activities give you energy and don't forget to set aside time for them.

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