My last post in the blog was on June 7,2015. Till then I was at the rate of writing one post at least each week. After my last post, I felt thoroughly drained and couldn’t come with any new ideas. I decided to stop writing for a while and concentrate on other things. Enjoyed my summer by attending countless bbq parties, camping, adventure sports and travelled quite a bit. Being in Canada, even though the government and companies work hard at promoting a solid work-life balance, most of the time it is never the case. Either in home or at work, I have seen from experience how Murphy’s laws are consistently fulfilled causing you to be in tenterhooks till the problem gets fixed. Sometimes, one gets the feeling that he/she cannot take a break as work keeps piling up. One then hopes and longs for that long vacation to take a break and seemingly fails to do so because vacations usually ends up with long travel times, delays and other unexpected events that throw you off the balance. In short, you are simply working all the time. And it is not good. Because working all the time doesn’t necessary translate to high productivity.
Our brains are not like the modern CPUs always plugged in and solving problems for us. Being an integral part of our body, our brains do need downtime to process the plethora of information that comes its way. Let’s take the example of the information that comes our way daily- At work we are faced with documentation after documentation of seemingly never ending information. To unwind, we turn our focus to social media where we are again inundated again with never ending information. Where does the brain gets time to process these information? How does it ever filter the information to see what needs to be retained and what doesn’t need to be retained? Our brains need substantial downtime to generate ideas, connect the dots between the information received on a day to day basis and provide us intuitions that takes us to promising new destinations. “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets,” essayist Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times.
Ferris Jaber writes in the Scientific American that when we are relaxing or daydreaming the brain is not seen to slow down or stop working and instead a ‘dazzling array’ of molecular, genetic and physiological processes occur primarily or even exclusively when we sleep at night. Quoting the work of Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and her collaborators at the University of South Carolina who found that when we are resting the brain is anything but idle and that far from being purposeless or unproductive, downtimes is sessional to the mental processes that affirm our identities and develop our understanding of the human behaviour. The detailed articles extols the virtues of rest management and how to ensure optimum productivity levels are attained.
“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
I was never a proponent of sleeping or taking rest and I used to push myself everyday as I felt one shouldn’t waste time resting and needs to get things done. Recently I forced to take rest following a freak knee accident. As I gave myself adequate rest, I could see that the rate of healing was exponentially proportional to the time I rested. My own perspective on rest has changed dramatically ever since. Sometimes one just needs to unplug and allow the body and eventually the brain to catch up.
Photo Credit: Tim Allendörfer via Compfight cc