How Do You Rest? A national survey by Hubbub.

(4 November 2015)

The British public are being invited to share their experiences of rest as part of a national ‘Rest Test’.

The Rest Test is an online survey to investigate the nation’s resting habits and their attitudes towards relaxation and busyness. It is part of a wider collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and Wellcome Collection’s researchers in residence, Hubbub.

With thousands of people expected to take part, this will be the world’s largest ever survey into subjective experiences of rest.

It comes at a time when the topic of rest is at the forefront of many people’s minds. Interest in self-tracking tools such as Fitbits is soaring and wellbeing has become a matter of public policy with an all-party parliamentary group exploring the benefits of mindfulness. There is increasing scrutiny of working patterns, whether through Virgin’s new annual leave policy allowing staff to take as much holiday as they need or the move to a six hour working day by Swedish companies.

The results will increase understanding of people’s perceptions of rest and the way these relate to an individual’s work or daily habits, as well as their experiences of health, illness, disability, satisfaction with life and the tendency to mind wander.

The kinds of questions the survey will address include:

  • How does rest affect health and wellbeing?
  • How do people vary in what they experience as restful?
  • Does an individual’s personality, health history and caring responsibilities have an effect on how much rest they get or the kinds of activities they find restful?
  • How do attitudes to and experiences of rest vary between different countries in the world?

Members of the public are invited to contribute their experiences of seeking rest and explore how they compare with others. They will also be encouraged to discuss the topic online and to share images of themselves at rest around the world using the hashtag #RestTest.

The Rest Test has been designed by Hubbub, an international collective of social scientists, artists, humanities researchers, scientists, broadcasters, public engagement professionals and mental health experts, in residence at the Hub at Wellcome Collection in London, led by Durham University and its Centre for Medical Humanities.

Dr Felicity Callard, Director of Hubbub and geographer at Durham University, said: “We want to know how people’s life experiences – of work and worklessness, of health and ill-health – affect their ability to rest. Data from The Rest Test will allow us to look at, from a whole range of different angles, who rests most, least, and how – and who feels they can’t get rest.”

“In time, these data might well help us to rethink how work might be re-organised, and how societal interventions might find more creative ways in which to facilitate people’s bodily and mental rest.”

Claudia Hammond, presenter of Radio 4’s All in the Mind and associate director of Hubbub, explains: “Rest is widely regarded as important to our wellbeing but there’s so much we don’t know about it. We vary a lot in how much time we have to spend resting and even what we consider it to be. Running might feel relaxing to one person, but exhausting to another. Sometimes we want to calm our minds, while at other times we focus on letting our bodies recover. The test will help us find out more about our relationships with rest and how it affects all our lives.”

The questionnaire is split into two parts, with an initial section taking 5 – 10 minutes, followed by more in-depth questions which can be completed in stages.

The results will be analysed and announced on All in the Mind on BBC Radio 4 in April 2016.

The Rest Test can be taken on the BBC Radio 4 website and at resttest.org.


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