Did you get adequate rest in 2022? And I’m not referring to “rest” as in sleeping, but “rest” as in intentionally taking the time to relax, refresh, and regain strength, health, and energy. Were your days last semester spent drowning in homework and practicing from sunrise to sunset? Did you feel like you could never catch up? Did you experience burnout? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you probably didn’t get enough rest.
Like many of my colleagues, I was drained at the end of the fall semester. While those few months were filled with growth, they were also filled with hectic schedules and many stressful moments. After reflecting and talking with friends, I was inspired to write about the idea that growth and rest are both possible as we head into this next semester.
Now don’t get me wrong – spending hours practicing and doing your homework are good things. We were made to work.
But – we were also made to rest.
The type of rest I’m referring to is a deep rest. It has the ability to reset your mind and allow for greater efficiency the next day, giving you a fresh start and a new perspective. Numerous studies** have shown deep rest can boost your immune system, lower stress levels, improve your memory and concentration, enhance your mood, increase productivity, enhance decision making, and so much more. Essentially, while the physical components of rest are definitely important (i.e., getting enough sleep), this “deep” rest also has mental, social, and spiritual outlets. Let’s walk through some practical ways to ensure you’re getting deep rest in the new year and in the new semester.
- As I mentioned above, getting enough sleep truly is important. Also, think of how much better you feel after taking a walk, soaking in the sun (get that vitamin D!), or participating in some sort of physical activity. Resting doesn’t have to be sitting on your couch and doing nothing (and to be honest, I personally don’t think that type of rest is efficient in allowing you to renew your mind). Deep rest can be taking a break from practicing and going for a short walk around campus or taking a quick nap.
- I think of mental rest as unplugging and allowing your brain to slow down. Taking time off can be extremely beneficial in this regard. I encourage my students to practice 6 days a week (not 7) so that they can have scheduled time off in the week, and I encourage you to do the same. I also encourage you to “log-off” at a set hour of each day. For example, perhaps each night at 7pm, you put away your computer, your phone (no answering emails!), and your instrument and unwind. Be intentional about unplugging.
- I love my friends from school. But, I also think in order to experience deep rest, it is imperative to have a social circle outside of school. Friends in my music program love music – which means when we hang out, we’re talking about music. While that’s great, deep rest requires that you do activities to help you stop thinking about school, music, and homework. Having friends or family outside of school that share other interests with you and planning social activities with them can truly help you feel refreshed and inspired when you go back to practicing the next day.
Here’s a quote I like from a Forbes article that sums up the purpose of deep rest: “When you take time to rest and relax, you are naturally more creative. Time off helps you refill your reserves. The quiet moments inspire reflection time, allowing you to break through creative barriers.”
As you prepare for the start of the new semester and the new year, I challenge you to set boundaries that allow you to get adequate amounts of deep rest. Resting effectively in one area may not be enough, but deep rest in many areas will help you avoid burnout and better enjoy what you do.
What other things do you do to rest effectively? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
**Want to learn more about the importance of rest? Here are a few great starting points:
- Cherry, Heather. “The Benefits of Resting and How to Unplug in a Busy World.” Forbes. January 15, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2021/01/15/the-benefits-of-resting-and-how-to-unplug-in-a-busy-world/?sh=7e9b876d2133.
- Kageyama, Noa. “Struggling with Practice Apathy? You Might Be Neglecting “Psychological Rest.” The Bulletproof Musician (blog). May 10, 2020. https://bulletproofmusician.com/struggling-with-practice-apathy-you-might-be-neglecting-psychological-rest/?highlight=rest.
- Nurit, WeinblattAnd Michal, Avrech-Bar. “Rest: a qualitative exploration of the phenomenon.” Occupational Therapy International 10, no.4 (2006): 227-238. Accessed January 1, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1002/oti.187.
- Pang, Alex Soojung-Kim. Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less. New York: Basic Books, 2016.