In 2014, British journalist Claudia Hammond carried out a worldwide radio survey, seeking responses what activities people find most restful. ‘The Rest Test’ was described as the largest ever survey on rest, with 18,000 people responding from 135 countries — and two-thirds of them saying they would like more rest. From the responses, Hammond compiled a top ten restful activities, which are now the chapters of her new book.
The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age argues that people are not resting enough. They want to say they are busy — as though it were a badge of honour — even when they feel exhausted.
Hammond argues that people should start taking rest seriously as a method of self-care citing her findings that the amount of rest one gets is directly linked to one’s sense of well-being.
While much has been written about the importance of sleep, rest is different — it is about how we unwind, calm our minds and recharge our bodies.
Based on her survey, the book takes readers through the top ten activities which people find most restful. These are listed in reverse order, beginning with mindfulness, followed by watching TV, daydreaming, having a bath, taking a walk, doing nothing much, listening to music, being on your own, spending time in nature, and finally reading as the most restful activity.
Hammond explains why rest matters, and examines the science behind the results to establish what really works. In its review, The Guardian says “The Art of Rest ought to be equivalent to a scientific siesta”, and adds: “The only trouble is that this outstanding book is far too stimulating to be restful.”
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