Most of us love to rest. We might watch a bit of TV, read a book, or just simply be. But what is happening whilst we are resting? You may be surprised to know the brain is working overtime to help us out.
Benefits of Rest
The benefits of rest are ones that I suspect most people involved in elite sport would champion. In performance sport circles it is often linked to recovery. Those who recover quicker will be able to do more. With the right team around them this could be the factor which leads to success. The difference between silver and gold.
Why then do we not look at rest with the same eyes when trying to get the best out of our learners ? Surely it’s the same concept? Resting the mind is surely the same as resting the body?
Increasingly it looks as if this is not the case, although the end result of achieving more might still come from the art of resting well.
Rest uses brain power
Research suggests that when we believe we are at rest the brain is still chugging away using up to 20% of the body’s energy resources. Even during meditation, the reduction in this energy consumption is minimal with 90% of energy the brain consumes being unaccounted for.
So what it is the brain doing whilst we go to our happy place? An obvious suggestion is that it is maintaining us (breathing, managing blood pressure etc). A less obvious one is that it is piecing together our experiences to solve our problems.
One particular area of interest to researchers is the area of daydreaming or mind wandering. Traditionally, daydreaming has been seen as a lack of respect in an unwilling learner. Now it would appear it might be where our most creative problem solving might come from. Charles Fernyhough, Professor in the Department of Psychology at Durham University refers to mind wandering as social gardening where the important business of the day is tidied up, and planning for the future initiated.
The Rest Test
The recently published results from The Rest Test provide some insight on what we might suggest to people to help them rest. The learners will still be using energy, but hopefully will be solving problems as they go.
As a sports educator, I believe it is my responsibility to provide an environment for learners to flourish through empowerment. Whether they are an athlete, a college student, a coach, or a coach developer, we all need our rest. Not to necessarily to recover, but simply to become better.
Those involved in sport often have a drive to succeed, not just to take part. This often leads to the concept of the harder I work the luckier I get. If positioned incorrectly this leaves little room for rest.
Embrace the daydreamer
Let’s embrace the mind wanderer, and rather than ask the question “What is more important than what I’ve got to teach you?”, provide them with a real opportunity to tell us where their head is at. It might unlock the most important piece of learning that day.
In short let’s relinquish some control, but not our accountability to the learner.