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

Why it's important to rest

We overload the brain with information

During the day the brain spends hours processing incoming information and conversations. If you don't let it relax, your mood, productivity, and health will suffer. That's why mental rest is so necessary - periods when you're not concentrating and interacting with the outside world, but letting your thoughts float in the clouds.


Right now, we're devoting less and less time to that kind of relaxation. "People treat themselves like machines," says Matthew Edland, director of the Center for Circadian Medicine in Florida. - "They regularly overexert themselves and overwork themselves.


It seems to us that the best way to succeed is to be as productive as possible. But this approach can lead to the opposite result.


Think of that zombie-like state you go into after a long conference call or a crazy day of hassle. You can barely think, forget important things, make mistakes, and end up doing less than you intended. The constant stressful pace of life takes its toll on productivity, creativity and happiness.


"The brain needs rest," says Stuart Friedman, author of books on leadership and work-life balance. - "After a mental break, your creative thinking works better, you make decisions more easily, and you begin to enjoy your activities.


We don't let the brain recover

The brain has two basic modes of operation. The first is action-oriented. It allows us to concentrate on tasks, solve problems, and process incoming information. It is engaged when we are working, watching TV, browsing Instagram, or interacting with information in any other way.


In addition, there is a passive mode brain network (PMBN). It turns on when we are inactive, daydreaming, or immersed in ourselves. If you were reading a book and suddenly noticed that you don't remember the last two pages, it means that your SPRRM is activated and you are thinking about extraneous things. You can stay like this for hours, for example, during a walk in the woods.


It is necessary to activate SPRRM every day: it helps the brain to recover. According to neuropsychologist Mary Helen Immordino-Young, with SPRRM we consolidate information, understand ourselves and what's going on in our lives. It is associated with well-being and creativity.

How to give yourself a mental break

Breaks should be taken several times throughout the day. Stuart Friedman advises resting about every 90 minutes or when you begin 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 such activities are fertile ground for activating SPRM. We usually feel guilty about loafing and daydreaming, and during such activities it's a good time to mentally rest.


Put the phone away

Most people pick up their phone just out of boredom, but this habit takes away the opportunity to relax. Try putting your smartphone away and not being distracted by it. For example, when you're standing in line or waiting for someone. Notice how it makes you feel. You'll probably be nervous at first, but soon you'll begin to pay attention to the world around you or your thoughts.


Spend less time on social media

Social media is a major enemy of mental relaxation. In addition, they create a wrong image of someone else's life, because we only see a perfect picture. All this, along with upsetting 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 your time there, for example to 45 minutes a day. Or reduce the list of friends, leaving only those with whom you really enjoy communicating.


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