Another Great Thing About Being Alone

Posted on July 3, 2017


What feels restful? Who gets enough rest and who doesn't? Does it really matter?

These are all questions to which, for a long time, we never knew the answers - but the wellness company Hubbub changed that. Together with BBC radio presenter Claudia Hammond, they brought together collaborators to design 'The Rest Test.' The online survey drew 18,000 participants from 134 countries, making it the biggest study of rest by far according to Psychology Today.

"Rather than defining rest, the researchers asked participants to choose the three activities, from a list of 25, that they found most restful. The activities most often experienced as restful were the kinds of things most often done alone."

The study's results are summarised below:

1. Activities most often experienced as restful

These activities were described as most restful by more than half of the participants:
• Reading
• Being in the natural environment
• Spending time alone

These activities were noted as especially restful by somewhere between 35% and 41% of the participants:
• Listening to music
• Doing nothing in particular
• Walking
• Having a bath or shower
• Daydreaming
• Watching TV

Finally, these activities were selected as restful by somewhere between about 22% and 26% of the participants:
• Meditating or practicing mindfulness
• Being with animals
• Seeing friends or family
• Drinking tea or coffee
• Doing creative arts

2. How much rest do people get and how much do they WISH they could get?

Among the LEAST rested people were:
• People with high incomes
• People working night shifts
• People with full-time jobs
• People who were caring for others

Among the MOST rested people were:
• Older people
• Retired people
• Unemployed people
• People with lower incomes

In some circles, however, there may be a kind of status to claiming to be super busy. Perhaps some people even underestimate the amount of rest they get in order to seem more impressive. One study reported that the men, more often than the women, said that they got less rest than the average person. But when the researchers looked at the reports of how much rest the participants had ACTUALLY gotten in the last 24 hours, the men had gotten more rest than the women (Psychology Today).

3. Does it matter if you get enough rest?

For this portion of the study, participants answered questions about their wellbeing. The researchers then correlated those scores with participants' reports of how much time they had spent resting during the last 24 hours. The results? Not surprising.

"Generally, people who had more rest experienced greater wellbeing. Extra hours of rest increased wellbeing all the way up to about 5 or 6 hours. After that, wellbeing slipped a little, but still remained high."

But because these are just correlations, we can't be certain whether getting more rest makes people happier, or vice versa: whether happier people get more rest. Or even whether something else about particular people makes them both happier AND more likely to get rest. As with every correlational study, there are always confounding factors that may come into play.

Nonetheless, it appears that regardless of whether we are introverted or extraverted, our 'me time' is crucial for restoring energy and reducing stress. As the authors of the Rest Test study concluded:

"To truly feel rest do we need time alone without fear or interruption, when we can be alone with our thoughts?...It would appear so."

Category(s):Self-Care / Self Compassion, Self-Love

Source material from Psychology Today

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