As Good as a Rest

A newly published study by researchers at Durham University has found that to be truly rested, we perhaps need to spend time alone.
The study, called The Rest Test, firstly asked volunteers if they felt they would like more rest. More than two thirds of respondents felt that they would. It’s interesting to note here the size of the study; eighteen thousand volunteers across 134 countries so a standardised notion of rest cannot be assumed.
The volunteers were then given a long list of activities and asked to pick three which they found to be most restful. The resulting rank order shows a strong emphasis on solitary activities. Reading and being in the natural environment ranked highly, just above spending time alone. Other solitary activities such as meditation ranked highly whilst socialising and seeing family ranked much lower.
Furthermore, these results remained relevant across personality types. When results for introverts and extroverts were separated out, the extroverts enjoyed socialising a little more but not so much as the solitary activities.
The final thing to note is that the study also looked at wellbeing and how much rest was ensured it. The figures showed that wellbeing was at its highest when subjects had rested for five to six hours the previous day. Those less well rested weren’t so with; with a greater amount, the figure started to dip.
What does this mean for teachers? We know that we have work commitments and it’s often difficult to complete a day’s school work in less than ten hours. If we then need to get to the supermarket, ensure our children have eaten a nutritious meal and done the laundry, what time does that leave for us ourselves? The answer, of course is that’s it’s very difficult, the demands of our careers don’t permit it.
In Scandinavian countries it is recognised that our productivity drops steeply once we’ve completed a certain number of working hours in the week. It almost becomes a taboo to stay late at the office. In our country and in our profession where nobody dares be first of the door we know that things have got to change. Let’s not forget that we have choices. If we choose to mark an extra set of books on an evening we may be choosing not to have a relaxing bath, if we choose planning, we can’t choose yoga. Yet still, none of this is much use when we’re filling in our termly appraisal form.

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