Mind your mind: The importance of rest and play

In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, researcher and storyteller Brené Brown writes about the importance of cultivating rest and play, and mentions the emphasis in today’s culture on “exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.” 

As university students always on the go, I think it’s important to let go of those dangerous myths since “rest and play are as vital to our health as nutrition and exercise.”

For instance, sleep isn’t supposed to be considered a luxury, but rather should be seen as a necessity. I think that a lot of us fall into the trap of undervaluing and underappreciating the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Besides, insufficient rest is highly correlated with increased stress as well as conditions such as anxiety and depression. Resting is all about recharging our batteries, and rejuvenating both our minds and bodies. Also according to Brown, play is equally important — especially since it is the birthplace of creativity and innovation. 

One of the obstacles students face is internalizing the dangerous belief that exhaustion equals hard work, while play is considered an activity reserved for “slackers.” We are told this from a very young age, but let me assure you that being constantly overwhelmed and on the verge of a mental breakdown does not equal success. Being sleep deprived does not mean that you are being more productive.

We live in a society that promotes “always being busy” to the point where most of us have a hard time relaxing and slowing down. We fear being seen as lazy, but the truth is that taking a break and respecting our limits will do so much more for our health than constantly challenging and pushing ourselves to the point of exhaustion. 

So today, take time to have fun — even if it means indulging in a behaviour with no purpose. Give yourself a forced vacation and practice self-care. 

Forget about your to-do list and instead try one of the following:

  • Learn a new hobby 
  • Do some crafts
  • Paint your nails
  • Do something silly
  • Play your favourite video game
  • Watch Netflix
  • Take a power nap
  • And don’t forget that you are on this earth to be happy, to be you and to be well