Run-down Brits blame ‘life admin’, stressful careers and technology for lack of downtime

  • A new study into the state of the nation’s downtime has revealed that Brits get only 40 minutes of time to themselves each day
  • Study found that a third of those surveyed would consider giving up their career success for a more restful lifestyle
  • Shopping trumps exercise and taking a bath in Brits’ bid to unwind
  • Tech could be to blame for lack of rest, with 42 per cent confessing that technology is the reason they’re never able to fully switch off

Traditional relaxation methods are being axed, according to a new study, which found that one in five British people would prefer to indulge in shopping, rather than having a bath, going for a long walk or exercising.

The research of 2,000 UK adults aged 18+, commissioned by British bedmaker Rest Assured, uncovered the reasons that people are struggling to get enough rest and recuperation and the severely disruptive impact of technology.

Revealing we really are a nation of consumers, retail therapy topped the list of activities that people like to do to unwind and destress, with one in five admitting to going shopping to help them unwind. Unsurprisingly, animal loving Brits chose to spend time with animals as the second prefered activity (17 per cent). Taking a walk on the beach was another top contender (15 per cent), followed by listening to music. 

Interestingly, more physical activities such as exercise, yoga and meditation, baking and gardening ranked low, suggesting that Brits prefer to spend their downtime doing things that aren’t too labour intensive, yet they still struggle to sit still and do nothing at all.

Dipti Tait, Relaxation Teacher & Hypnotherapist at The Cotswold Practice, commented: ”Shopping is certainly a good way of distracting the mind, however, it’s not the best way to relax. Subconsciously there are many factors on the brain while we shop. We are comparing, analysing, evaluating, making choices and being seduced by the bargain or the sale tag, and this is not always relaxing for the brain.

“Shopping can be a form of therapy to take your mind off a problem, but it’s not a good way to relax. Real relaxation is when the brain gets a chance to switch off from conscious thought. When we engage in activities that help us to use our imagination - like reading or daydreaming - true relaxation in the brain occurs when our mind feels still afterwards, whereas shopping and shopping centres are designed to keep the mind busy.”

The research also revealed that Brits get a mere 40 minutes of ‘me time’ per day, which is defined as taking time out for yourself to not think about work, children or business commitments. Therefore suggesting the remaining 11 hours and 20 minutes of the day are spent consumed by other people and activities.

When taking well-earned ‘me time’, nearly a third of Brits (30 per cent) said they take a digital detox and put their phones, laptops and tablets down for a limited period of time, with 42 per cent believing technology is one of the main reasons they can’t switch off.

So, why aren’t Brits getting enough rest?

Two in five British people (40 per cent) blamed mobile phone usage, while 39 per cent said they were spending time doing personal admin.

When asked what they would be willing to give up to lead a more peaceful lifestyle, career success topped the list, with nearly a third (32 per cent) saying this would allow them to take more time out for themselves. Those working in the professional services industry, including lawyers and accountants, felt particularly strongly about this, with 39 per cent highlighting they would give up career progression.

While Brits have a very clear idea of how to make the most of downtime, 40 minutes a day isn’t enough. Results from the study found that a third are constantly in a grumpy mood when they aren’t well-rested, while 34 per cent admit to arguments at home and 30 per cent feel lethargic.

Dipti continued: “It is important to incorporate restful and relaxation practices into our lives, so our body and mind stays calm and balanced. When we feel calm, we feel in control. Our body and mind needs calming homeostasis to be able to operate efficiently and function effectively, so by ensuring we get enough rest, sleep and ‘me time’, in our lives, this helps us stay in control.

“There are many ways to prioritise relaxation and incorporate ‘me time’ into your life - like join a yoga class, learn to meditate, get some hypnotherapy and trying holistic therapies like massages and reflexology. It is very important for us to learn and practice the skill of relaxation to get useful neurochemistry, like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin fuelling us, which makes our lives much more happy, clearer and peaceful.”

Louise Boden, Brand Manager for Rest Assured said: “Our research highlighted some really interesting findings and it’s clear that the nation simply isn’t making enough time for rest and recuperation.

“We’re constantly on the go and sometimes taking time out to relax, whether that’s having a nap or catching up with friends is vital to our health and wellbeing. When you feel truly rested and relaxed, this can aid a good night’s sleep too, which is fundamental to a happy and healthy lifestyle.

“There are lots of reasons why people aren’t getting enough downtime, and this just highlights the seriousness of the matter. It’s important to make this a priority.”

The study revealed the top twenty activities to unwind and de stress:

  1. Go shopping 20.4
  2. Spend time with animals 16.6
  3. Go on a long walk 16.6
  4. Walk on the beach 15.4
  5. Listen to music 14.1
  6. Crafts 12.5
  7. Play a board game 12.2
  8. Listen to a podcast 11.2
  9. Sitting still and doing nothing 9.7
  10. Paint 8.7
  11. Learn a new skill 8.3
  12. Meditate/Yoga 7.9
  13. Practice aromatherapy 7.3
  14. Bake 5.8
  15. Go for a drive in the car 5.6
  16. Have a bath 5.4
  17. Give up technology for a period of time 4.5
  18. Watch the sunrise 5.0
  19. Exercise 3.9
  20. Nap 2.2

Rest Assured is giving one lucky winner the chance to take some well-deserved R&R time, and offering a luxury two night stay at Hoar Cross Hall, alongside the option to choose a brand new mattress to aid their sleep every night. Please click on the link to enter into the prize draw: