Is the Big Lap as restful as it could be? Probably not!

Published: September 29, 2016
Grey nomads not sure about rest

For many grey nomads, hitting the open road on a long-term trip is seen as the ultimate opportunity to rest and relax after a life-time of hard work and frantic family activity.

But what exactly is ‘rest’ … and is taking off on the Big Lap the best way to get it?

Well, perhaps not if we are sharing our caravan or motorhome with a travelling companion.  The results of the world’s largest survey on rest have revealed that in order to feel truly rested, a lot of us want – and need – to be completely alone,

In The Rest Test, a survey conducted by Hubbub – an international group of academics and health experts – 18,000 people were asked which three activities they found the most restful … and the results were unexpected.

Reading came out as the clear winner; followed by being in the natural environment; being on your own; listening to music; and doing nothing in particular. The BBC reports that the striking thing was that all these are activities often done alone. Seeing friends and family, chatting or drinking socially all came much lower down the list. This apparently doesn’t mean that the respondents didn’t like socialising, just that they didn’t consider it to be particularly restful.

Could it be then that what we really want in order to rest is to get away from others … including our nearest and dearest?

“People said that when they were on their own mostly they were focused on how they were feeling, so on their body or their emotions,” says psychologist Ben Alderson-Day, who co-wrote the survey. “People said they were only talking to themselves in their head 30% of the time, so there is a hint that when you’re on your own – as well as switching off from other people – you get the chance to switch off from your own inner monologue as well.”

But just because we’re on our own doing nothing, that doesn’t mean the brain is resting. The BBC reports that neuroscientists used to think that the brain was less active whenever we stopped concentrating on a task, but late in the 20th Century studies using brain scanners threw up some curious findings and they realised they had got it wrong.

When we are at rest, supposedly doing nothing, our minds have a tendency to wander and our brains are in fact busier when we’re not concentrating in a task than when we are.

Incidentally, just over two-thirds of respondents said they would like more rest. When they were asked how much they had rested the previous day – leaving them free to define rest in any way they wanted to – the average was three hours and six minutes.

·         Do you get more ‘rest’ on the Big Lap that you did before you left home? What are you doing (or not doing) when you are feeling most rested? Comment below.

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Ruth Manning
5 years ago

My man and I have been married for 24 years and now our permanent home is our “gypsy wagon”, on the road permanently. We love our life together and travel slowly and move when we get itchy feet, free camp and are self sufficient for power etc. We are happy in each others company and enjoy the same hobbies of gold fossicking amd gem hunting
on creeks along our travels. We have a hobie kayack and a couple of fold up cycles also……just love being on the road. I am sure there are other couples travelling that feel the same as us……Happy Travelling and stay safe.

Christine Sinclair
5 years ago
Reply to  Ruth Manning

Great to hear Ruth, my man and I are planning to do the same and I am sure we will have much , R & R we need. In the prosses of selling up at the moment, there is no rest in that. Happy travels.

Cynthia Weekley
5 years ago

I love travelling with my hubby of 45 years. Wouldn’t be the same without him – for better or worse .

Helen P
5 years ago

Sold up a couple of months back and together myself and my dog hit the road in the caravan. Never felt more r&r (after the flurry of getting sold up and devoiding myself of all but the bare necessities). I’ve got a huge jigsaw happening, books, crosswords, music, DVDs and TV, finally time to do that cross stitch and do some cooking. Loving every minute. The thing about a dog is they’re ready to go when you are, they never want the remote control, car keys, happy to go where I want to, don’t take up much room (smallish dog), always happy and very sociable. Very selfish lifestyle I’ve got happening and loving every minute of it.

Erica Struber-Nunn
5 years ago
Reply to  Helen P

great ! good on you … been thinking of doing this myself

5 years ago

We were away this year until we had to come home because of a family tragedy, been home for three months now and already bored out of our minds.Need to get back on the road again so we can rest.


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