The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age by Claudia Hammond

The Art of Rest is an absorbing exploration of how and why we rest

Book Review by Eugenie Johnson | 21 Nov 2019
  • The Art of Rest
Book title: The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age
Author: Claudia Hammond

How do you best rest? If you’re anything like the 18,000 people from 135 different countries who took part in The Rest Test, the largest ever global survey studying how people relax, then it might be from one of the top ten activities they found the most soothing (including mindfulness, watching TV and doing nothing in particular). These ten pursuits form the backbone of writer, broadcaster and psychology lecturer Claudia Hammond’s The Art of Rest, which sets out to explore why these particular methods are so popular.

Often drawing on scientific clinical studies, but also encompassing historical and social elements, Hammond details the biological and psychological mechanisms behind rest. Whether it’s the physiological reason behind why a hot bath aids sleep, why a walk can boost well-being (but not when quantified by an app or FitBit) or the potential cognitive benefits of listening to music, there are numerous absorbing insights to be found (even if Hammond does ask to take these with the occasional pinch of salt). These sections are often tied together with anecdotes but these can sometimes come across as slightly forced and derail the pace – you find yourself itching to get to the next fact. As reading was noted to be the most popular way to rest though, delving into The Art of Rest is an intriguing way to spend some downtime. [Eugenie Johnson]

Canongate, 21 November