The 10 most restful activities

Reading came out tops in the Rest Test.
Reading came out tops in the Rest Test.PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

A BBC online survey shows that people find it restful to read and be surrounded by nature

Some 18,000 people around the globe completed an online survey that was called the world's biggest survey on rest, according to a BBC Radio 4 programme last week.

The Rest Test was devised by an interdisciplinary team, known as Hubbub, that included psycholo- gists, neuroscientists, artists, musicians, historians and sociologists.

For the test, people were asked to choose which three activities they found most restful, said the BBC.

1 READING: This came out tops in the survey, with 58 per cent of the people saying they find it restful.

Those who scored high on a scale which measured whether they felt they were flourishing in life were even more likely to choose reading.

For some, a long walk can never feel restful but, for others, it is perfect. Some people found that by exercising the body, they could clear their minds. About 8 per cent of them found running restful.

2 BEING IN THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: This backs up research showing that many people find it therapeutic to be outdoors, surrounded by nature. Slightly more women than men picked this one.

3 BEING ON YOUR OWN: It is striking how many of the top 10 activities are often done alone.

Seeing friends and family or drinking socially came much further down the list.

In the Rest Test, even the extroverts rated being on their own as more restful than being with other people.

Women and people under the age of 30 were more likely to choose this.

4 LISTENING TO MUSIC: More men than women and more younger people than older people chose this activity.

5 DOING NOTHING IN PARTICULAR: Every age group liked this a lot, apart from the 31- to 45-year-olds.

Some people said they found it hard to do nothing and, in the Rest Test, almost 9 per cent of the respondents said resting made them feel guilty or stressed.

6 WALKING: For some, a long walk can never feel restful but, for others, it is perfect. Some people found that by exercising the body, they could clear their minds. About 8 per cent of them found running restful.

7 TAKING A BATH OR SHOWER: This gets much less popular with age. Almost twice as many 18- to 30-year-olds put this down as a restful activity, compared to those over 60.

8 DAYDREAMING: There has long been debate among psychologists about whether letting the mind wander is good for you.

Ruminating over negative thoughts is common in people with depression but, increasingly, there is a sense that our minds are so prone to wander that it might bring benefits.

9 WATCHING TV: More women than men and more young people than older people chose this one, but it was way behind reading in every age group.

10 MEDITATING: With the rise in the popularity of mindfulness, maybe it is not surprising that this made it to the top 10 in the list, above gardening, seeing friends or sex. Would it have been there a decade ago?

BBC

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2016, with the headline 'The 10 most restful activities'. Print Edition | Subscribe