Rest: Teachers are you doing it right?

Imagine writing a whole book on the subject of rest.  That's exactly what Alex Soojung-Kim Pang did in 2016 (although I just learned about the book last week).  Pang is the founder of the Restful Company ( and a visiting scholar at Stanford.

In my teacher self-care presentations and workshops, one of the most frequent comments from teachers is that self-care takes time, and teachers are busy people.  Yes, I agree but according to Pang, rest:

- makes us more creative

- increases our productivity

- heightens our concentration

- reduces multi-tasking

- calms us down

- boost happiness and

- helps us to focus better


In the last two years, I have been making a conscious effort to be healthier and happier.  This includes downtime, less screen-time, being mindful and resting.  But I think I haven't been resting right. 

If you think rest means lying of the sofa and binge-watching t.v., this is just one form, says Pang but he clearly argues that rest is an essential skill that leads to psychological, physical and mental restoration.  

"Only in recent history has 'working hard' signaled pride rather than shame...". Nassim Nicholas Taleb

It's interesting to take a historical look at how we are spending more time at work and also getting to and from work.  The stats are staggering!  Pang suggests that people had more time to rest in the past.  I would agree and think that the 24/7 "always-on" world makes it hard for us to switch off (a college coordinator told me she gets emails at 10 - 10:30 p.m. from the Dean!).  This kind of work environment does make it very difficult to incorporate much needed "rest".

One of the things that I liked about the book were the numerous references of how well-known people rested.  For example:

  • Winston Churchill painted
  • Jefferson, Kierkegaard, C.S. Lewis, Dickens, Steve Jobs and Tchaikovsky were avid walkers and
  • Tolkien studied languages as a way to unwind.  

Pang suggests that "rest" can take the form of gardening or walking but also can be "deep play" which is challenging and rewarding (examples of Churchill and Tolkien). 

There are other suggestions in the book such as napping, the need for sleep, recovery (detaching from our workplaces) and sabbaticals (which is not practical for all teachers). 

Rest is a great read and helped me to re-define not only what rest is but how to rest but most importantly, why teachers need to rest in the right way. (it's available on Amazon at   

 What about you?  Do you rest right?


About Me

Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., CPP has more than 20 years’ experience as an adult educator, trainer, and writer. She spent seven amazing years teaching in Hong Kong and has taught students from 8 to 80. Patrice has transitioned out of full-time classroom teaching and now works as a teacherpreneur ( and also provides workshops on workplace happiness and employee engagement but has a soft-spot for teacher well-being. Patrice’s own personal experience with professional burn-out in 2015 prompted her to reflect on her own lack of self-care and adopt positive psychology interventions which she now shares with other educators and administrators. (


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