Why I Take Pictures of Eggs
And why it’s imperative to both my productivity and happiness.
I think a lot about rest — creative rest, physical rest, mental rest. I think about it all the freaking time, and believe in it wholeheartedly. I believe in it so much so that I did my entire senior thesis around this idea that rest is important and necessary and good.
In a world obsessed with speed, where even instant gratification takes too long, I can confidently say this is a topic that everyone can relate to and has struggled with. I’ve discussed this countless times with friends over meals and coffee and it seems to be a universal issue.
The lack of rest in our culture is reflected in our saying, “we don’t have enough time.” Sound familiar? (Let’s get coffee sometime.)
Define your own rest
Rest isn’t always laying in bed or swinging in a hammock or binge-watching Netflix for a whole weekend. I think we have this preconcieved notion that rest needs to be stagnant and still— which it definitely can — but if you’re like me, that may not always be the case. I find rest in going to a thrift store and browsing until I find something that inspires me. I find rest in writing a letter to my grandpa. I find rest in taking random pictures of eggs.
I believe human beings need moments to rest and recharge. I believe 100% that you should be taking a break from your daily grind to find rest, but I think you need to identify what that is that brings you rest and re-engergizes you so that you’re functioning at your best. These things you do to find rest don’t have the pressure of having to make you a living, they don’t have to have a deadline, they don’t have to succeed (thank god).
Here’s a few reasons why you should listen to me —
Doctors are talking about how not taking time for rest is leading to major health consequences, weight gain, depression, and anxiety. Basically, the human brain just wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it these days. You don’t have to trust me, here’s the professionals opinion on the matter:
It’s affecting our emotional health —
We are the most depressed country in the world. The World Health Organization says somewhere between one in nine and one in 10 Americans are being treated for depression. We tend to work more hours than any other country in the world; seeing any connections?
It’s affecting our mental health —
Tim Kreider from the New York Times writes, “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets…It is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
We overuse stimulants (I’ll take a coffee, black please) —
We use stimulants like caffeine to give us energy and we find it difficult to relax. Most of us are addicted to activity. Over time, we “adapt” psychologically to chronic stress; we learn to ignore symptoms that are desperately trying to get our attention. Jan Birchfield, Ph.D We end up carrying this stress in our shoulders, our face, our posture, our attitude, and our attention-span.
We begin to see negative effects creatively —
When we rest we allow ourselves time to daydream, to space out, to let our minds wander. Without time in between tension, we never allow new or fresh ways of thinking to seep into our creative arena. When we take a step back, we allow ourselves to gain perspective on our work and see it from a different angle. Keeping your nose too far into your work makes it hard to see the big picture.
Give yourself a break, we all need rest. It is not an escape from our work, it’s not being lazy or unmotivated — it’s an essential extension of who we are as we develop and grow. Please make time for this. Tell someone to keep you accountable to this, I sure do (thanks Alex Tan).