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How To Rest Properly (And Be More Creative)

February 2017Words by Mr Alfred Tong

New York City, 1980. Photograph © Jean Gaumy/Magnum Photos

“If there was an Olympic gold medal for ‘chillaxing’, he would win it,” is how one unnamed friend described former British prime minister Mr David Cameron’s penchant for post-lunch naps, weekend tennis matches and general fondness for fun and games. “Chillaxing” – a deliciously sticky turn of phrase when used in reference to someone running a country. Surely, said his detractors, it’s hardly appropriate for a Prime Minister to “chillax”?

Actually, it’s not so clear. In his book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less – which sees its paperback release this month –  technology forecaster and Silicon Valley consultant Mr Alex Soojung-Kim Pang debunks the notion that producing our best work requires relentless slog and miserable grind. In fact, he says, many of the greatest minds of the past and present were intimately acquainted with the art of “active rest” – comprising deliberate forms of relaxation and play that not only stop the mind and body from burning out, but actively enhance and recharge the areas and networks of the brain responsible for deep analytical thought, memory and creativity.

“In previous centuries, leading authors, scientists, politicians, and businessmen created masterpieces, won elections, and captained industries while finding ample time for long walks and regular naps, weekends away, even weeks-long vacations,” writes Mr Pang. “They learned to lean back, develop sustainable routines, and make rest an essential part of their creative lives.”