Do you find it incredibly hard to ‘slow down’ or shift into the slow lane at the best of times? If my circle of midlife friends are anything to go by we are charging all over the place. They have oodles of energy but has the concept of rest been forgotten?
Most people can only go full tilt for about 90 to 120 minutes. After that, if you try to push through and continue to produce at a high level, you start fouling up the works. Keeping mentally focused and at your highest production level is difficult. Your mental engine begins to break down.
The same is true with your physical body. You can’t go very long at a high level physically without taking a break.
The greatest athletes in the world take several breaks in the middle of a game. Basketball, football, and soccer players regularly substitute in and out of a game. Their coaches know that’s the only way to keep the freshest and most capable bodies in the game most of the time.
The human mind and body require rest. In many cases, a higher level of productivity and creativity can only be achieved if rest happens regularly. That’s what Charles Darwin discovered … the hard way.
Charles Darwin, the Stereotypical Work Addict
You may know Charles Darwin as a naturalist, biologist, and important figure in evolutionary biology. He is famous for his theories on natural selection, though he contributed in important ways to various other fields.
He wrote thousands of letters and papers which helped us understand our world. From all accounts, he was your typical workaholic. What he discovered about constantly working was that it didn’t lead to his greatest discoveries.
He would push past mental fatigue, or at least try to. The result was eventually a crash-and-burn state, physically and mentally. Once he realized he was being counterproductive, he shut down his brain. Story has it that Darwin stepped outside his home in Kent in the UK and walked on a gravel track.
He returned to work refreshed and rejuvenated. Darwin began to schedule morning and afternoon walks on what he eventually called his Thinking Path, where he rested his mind and exercised his body.
He discovered that frequently taking breaks from his work’s physical and mental aspects led to his greatest achievements.
Evolution by Natural Selection Was Born on the Thinking Path
Darwin had toyed with the idea of natural selection when he lived in London. It wasn’t until he moved to Kent and began regularly taking breaks from work on his Thinking Path that his natural selection evolutionary theory was fully developed.
It is said that Darwin would sometimes stop talking in the middle of a sentence when he realized he needed a break. It may have been a break from work, a break from socializing, or a rest from whatever he was doing at the present time.
He believed in the power of resting because he saw the wonderful results in his life.
You may not strive to rewrite humanity’s views on some important topic. That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit physically, mentally, and creatively from scheduling rest into your day. It’s a simple fact that your mind and body need to rest and rejuvenate to be their best. Start resting more regularly to achieve and produce more in your life.