Over two thirds (68 per cent) of the public would like more rest, according to the world’s largest ever survey on the topic. The results of the survey, led by Durham University researchers at Hubbub, also revealed that nearly a third (32 per cent) of respondents said they need more rest than the average person, while 10 per cent think they need less.
More than 18,000 people from 134 different countries took part in the Rest Test, an online survey to investigate the public’s resting habits and their attitudes towards relaxation and busyness. The results were unveiled during BBC Radio 4’s programme The Anatomy of Rest.
The survey found that those who felt they needed more rest scored lower in terms of well-being. Similarly, those who responded saying they think they get more rest than average or don’t feel in need of more rest, had well-being scores twice as high as those who wanted more rest. This suggests that the perception of rest matters, as well as the reality.
Felicity Callard, principal investigator on the project and social scientist in Durham University’s Department of Geography and Centre for Medical Humanities said: “The survey shows that people’s ability to take rest, and their levels of well-being, are related. We’re delighted that these findings combat a common, moralizing connection between rest and laziness.”
The top five most restful activities, as voted for by survey participants, are those often done alone:
- Reading (58 per cent)
- Being in the natural environment (53.1 per cent)
- Being on their own (52.1 per cent)
- Listening to music (40.6 per cent)
- Doing nothing in particular (40 per cent)
Felicity Callard continued: “It’s intriguing that the top activities considered restful are frequently done on one’s own. Perhaps it’s not only the total hours resting or working that we need to consider, but the rhythms of our work, rest and time with and without others.”
The Rest Test was 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.
A full analysis of the data will be published in the next year. Hubbub hope 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 results coincide with a new exhibition – Rest & its discontents – at Mile End Art Pavilion from 30 September-30 October, and a new Hubbub publication The Restless Compendium available free to download or to buy as a hard copy from 27 September.