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Spending Time Alone Is Perhaps The Best Way To Rest, Even For Extroverts


Imagine waking up on a nice, sunny Saturday morning. The sun is shining, the air is crisp, the birds are chirping, the streets are empty. You treat yourself to your favorite breakfast, make your fave to-go coffee, pick a book and decide to spend your day hiking.

As you make your steps and go deeper and deeper into the forest, all you hear is your breath and the gentle breeze caressing your hair.  

I have to admit. Just describing and visualizing this made me want to pack up my things and get lost. Alone.

Sounds like the best plan if you want to shut off and rest, huh?

Well, we’re all aware that for introverts (like me), who by definition recharge by spending time alone, this is one of the best ways to enjoy solitude and regain the much-needed energy.

However, a study on the subject of resting has found that most people consider simple solitude to be the best way to rest. The interesting part is that most of the people who participated were actually extroverts – people who by definition tend to gain energy by socializing.

Two years ago,  the BBC and Hubbub, a research collective run by Durham University, launched a massive study into how people rest called The Rest Test. They interviewed 18,000 people in 134 countries because they wanted to understand which activities people considered restful and if rest affects health and well-being. 

The results that came after a long period of analyzing uncovered some interesting findings.

Two-thirds of the respondents or 68,4% answered they would like more rest. Almost a third said they needed more rest than the average person, and only 10% said they needed less than average.

One question asked the participants to answer how much they rested the previous days, leaving them free in defining rest in any way they wanted. The average hours of rest were 3hours and 6 minutes.

Another question gave the participants a long list of activities, asking them to rank the top three restful activities, and the results were amazing.

Reading was rest as the most restful activity. The second was “spending time in nature”, followed by “being alone”, then “listening to music” and last but not least, “doing nothing in particular”.

It’s interesting to note that social activities including seeing friends and family or drinking socially, was ranked very low.

It turned out that after all, introverts are not the only people who value their time spent alone. Extroverts also voted being alone as a more restful activity than being in the company of people.

So, is really spending time alone the best way to rest and recharge?

When it comes to taking a break from reality, is isolation the only way for us to effectively reconnect with ourselves and relax?

Felicity Callard, a professor of social science at the University of Durham, who directed the research group, said that the reason for this is the chaotic nature of the modern life.

According to her, our hectic lives have made us very curious and interested in learning how to properly rest.

“The discourse of busyness is everywhere,” she said. “That sense of boasting, or status coming from being incredibly busy and productive. At the same time, people think it’s unsustainable, but rest seems like this unattainable thing.”

Moreover, one of the most interesting findings, Callard said, was that many people don’t think of work and rest as opposites. Analyzing those people’s behavior could give truly important insights into business strategies that could help decrease stress.

So, what are your opinions on this topic?

What is your best way to get rest? Do you like to be around people, or you find solitude the best possible way to unwind and recharge?

Stephanie Reeds