After a stressful day at work, it’s common to unwind by sacking out on the couch and watching Netflix.
Yet this form of relaxation, though it constitutes an almost complete break from any activity, often feels more benumbing than refreshing.
That’s because rejuvenation is premised not on shutting off your brain, but switching it to a different track.
Winston Churchill put it this way:
A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by continually using it and tiring it…[and this tired part] can be rested and strengthened, not merely by rest, but by using other parts. It is not enough merely to switch off the lights which play upon the main and ordinary field of interest; a new field of interest must be illuminated…It is only when new cells are called into activity, when new stars become lords of the ascendant, that relief, repose, refreshment are afforded.
Rejuvenation cannot be found in moving from one climate-controlled box to another, and toggling between staring at screens for business, and staring at screens for pleasure; rather, it is generated through rebalancing — stimulating the psychic (and physical) muscles which have atrophied.
If you spend your work hours indoors, spend some of your leisure time out. If the only “conversation” you make during the day is with toddlers, dialogue with a great friend, or a great book, at night. If your job utilizes only your mind, find a hobby that engages your hands.
If much of your time involves managing abstractions, refreshment will be found in crafting concretions. If the bulk of your existence is based around practicality, productivity, efficiency, then renewal will be found in beauty, art, imagination — in whim-driven pursuits done for their own sake.
As Churchill observed, when it comes to finding real relief and literal re-creation, “Change is the master key.”