Do Lawyers Need Alone Time to Rest and Recharge?

The BBC Magazine has just published the survey results from 18,000 people in 134 countries who took an online survey called the “Rest Test”. The survey was created by Hubbub, an international group of academics, mental health experts, and others to determine what rest means and how it is achieved (BBC Magazine,

The top 11 responses involved activities that are usually or always done alone. Not until item #12, “seeing friends and family”, did the activity necessitate human contact and the pattern surprising applied as consistently among introverts as among extroverts.

  1. Reading; identified by 58% of respondents.
  2. Being in the natural environment; chosen slightly more often by woman than by men.
  3. Spending time alone; selected more by women and the under 30’s.
  4. Listening to music; appealed more to men than to women.
  5. Doing nothing in particular; appealed to all except the 31- 45 age group.
  6. Walking; 8% also found running restful and 16% found exercise in general to be restful.
  7. Having a bath or shower; oddly more popular among the youngest.
  8. Daydreaming; our default state that neuroscientists have found stimulates more activity in the brain (that might be regarded as “housekeeping” activity) than when the mind is focused on a task.
  9. Watching TV; chosen by more woman and by younger people.
  10. Meditating or Practicing Mindfulness; a growing trend.
  11. Being with animals
  12. Seeing friends and family

Perhaps important to working professionals is that 9% of respondents associated rest with the words, “guilty” or “stress inducing”. Younger individuals working full-time and having higher incomes were found, not surprisingly, to be the least rested cohort. And  perhaps consistent with that revelation was the finding that the majority of individuals employed full-time viewed rest as the opposite of work. However, that did not hold true among the self-employed. A lower percentage of self-employed individuals saw the same dichotomy. Does this suggest that solo practice might be innately more restful than working in a larger firm environment where more autonomy is relinquished? Or could it be due to the higher likelihood of achieving a few moments of blissful solitude in a solo practice environment? The study leaves us to contemplate.

The study also saw a correlation between rest and a sense of well-being. Those who managed to rest between 5-6 hours the day prior to taking the survey, by whatever definition rest might have for them, scored the highest feelings of well-being. Those who achieved the least rest indicated the lowest sense of well-being. However, the study doesn’t answer which came first, the rest or the well-being. Do the better rested feel better about life in general, or are those with a higher level of well-being better able to rest? The chicken-and-egg issue is unresolved, but those who felt most rested on one day scored twice as high in well-being the next day as compared to the least rested.

To hear three audio presentations on the study, go to “The Anatomy of Rest” at