While productivity and activity are valued in most cultures, it’s important to balance these drives with rest and relaxation. When we rest, we can set aside our ambitions and worries, and restore and renew our bodies and minds.
Being active and then inactive is a natural and necessary cycle. Just as a dormant winter leads to a fruitful spring, resting leads to new growth and possibility. Whether it’s a night of sleep or an informal break, a period of repose often brings us fresh perspectives and creative insights when we return to a project or situation.
Rest is also a powerful antidote to stress. Time off provides respite from our to-do lists, and an opportunity to dream, heal, and just be. Stepping away from obligations and letting the world spin on its own for a while is not always easy, though. Taking small steps, like pausing for a few deep breaths throughout the day, creating peaceful bedtime rituals, and scheduling purposefully unproductive time during the week can help us establish new habits and achieve a more tranquil pace. Each of us is more than the set of tasks we can accomplish, and we all deserve to slow down, take vacations, and recharge, as these 20 quotes attest.
Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.
Sometimes, the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.
— Etty Hillesum, Dutch Jewish author
Rest is sweet after strife.
— Owen Meredith, English statesman and writer
Straining breaks the bow, and relaxation relieves the mind.
Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about 3 o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.
— Barbara Jordan, U.S. congresswoman
Rest satisfied with doing well, and leave others to talk of you as they please.
It’s good to stop running around. Sometimes, one should just look at things and think about things without doing things.
— Hobbes of the “Calvin and Hobbes” comics by Bill Watterson
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitations of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
— Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Stop saying rest is a luxury or a privilege. It is not — it’s a human right… it gives us the space to embody and live in divinity.
— Tricia Hersey, artist and activist
We need society, and we need solitude also, as we need summer and winter, day and night, exercise and rest.
— Philip Gilbert Hamerton, British artist and author
Lay down the song you strum, and rest yourself ‘neath the strength of strings no voice can hope to hum.
— Bob Dylan
Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise. The wisest man is therefore he who loafs most gracefully.
— Lin Yutang, Chinese writer and inventor
Lay down your head a while, you are not needed now.
— Townes Van Zandt, singer-songwriter
To lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means a waste of time.
— John Lubbock, British politician and naturalist
Allow yourself to be like [the] pebble at rest. The pebble is resting at the bottom of the river, and the pebble does not have to do anything.
— Thích Nhất Hạnh
Except for the point, the still point,
there would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
— T.S. Eliot
I still need more healthy rest in order to work at my best. My health is the main capital I have, and I want to administer it intelligently.
— Ernest Hemingway
O, what is more sweet than when the mind, set free from care, lays its burden down; and, when spent with distant travel, we come back to our home, and rest our limbs on the wished-for bed? This, this alone, repays such toils as these!
— Catullus, Latin poet
My biggest thrill in life is to read in the afternoon until I fall asleep and take a nap.
— Sissy Spacek
For the sword outwears its sheath, and the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe, and love itself have rest.
— Lord Byron