Over two-thirds of people would like more rest, the largest ever survey of its type has concluded.
The survey of over 18,000 people in 134 different countries found that the five most restful activities are:
- Reading (58% selected this as a restful activity).
- Being in the natural environment (53.1%).
- Being on their own (52.1%).
- Listening to music (40.6%).
- Doing nothing in particular (40%).
People who were psychologically ‘flourishing’ were more likely to choose reading as one of their favourite restful activities.
Surprisingly, socialising did not even appear in the top ten.
Places 6 – 10 on the list were taken by walking, having a bath or showering, daydreaming, watching TV and meditating/mindfulness.
Even extraverts valued spending time alone to recuperate and rated being alone as more restful than being with others.
Dr Felicity Callard, who led the study, said:
“It’s intriguing that the top activities considered restful are frequently done on one’s own.
Perhaps it’s not only the total hours resting or working that we need to consider, but the rhythms of our work, rest and time with and without others.”
People were asked in the survey how much rest they had had in the last 24 hours.
The results showed that almost one-third of people said they hadn’t had enough rest.
However, 10% thought they needed less rest.
Dr Callard said:
“The survey shows that people’s ability to take rest, and their levels of well-being, are related.
We’re delighted that these findings combat a common, moralizing connection between rest and laziness.”
On average, people spent 3 hours and 8 minutes resting on the previous day.
Those who were younger and richer had had less rest the previous day, on average.
Those who had the least rest included carers and those doing shift work.
Claudia Hammond, psychologist and radio presenter, said:
“We had no idea how many people would choose to complete the Rest Test.
More than 18,000 gave up their precious sparetime to tell us what they thought about rest which shows us what a pressing issue it is.
These results show just how crucial it is to our well-being to ensure people do have time to rest.
We can begin to try to work out what the optimum amount of rest might be and how we should go about resting.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study is due to be published next year.