How to Rest at Work: 4 Practices for a More Human Workspace

Steven R. Durgin
6 min readOct 19, 2021
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

If you were raised in America on the 8-hour workday, you might have tripped over my title. After all, what business does anybody have resting at work?

You don’t rest at work. You work at work and you rest after work, right? That’s the general idea.

And yet this conceptualization of things has always been oversimplified. The most productive people rest at work. And we should rest at work not merely because it’s productive but because it’s human.

It is healthy to take breaks often, to alternate between tasks of different types and intensities, and even to have fun while we get things done. At the end of the day, your health is more important than your productivity.

Or as Andrew Yang put it,

“We (human beings) are the bottom line.”

That is to say, profit is not. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Rest as Protest

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I used to be on a social work team that served over 100 dual-diagnosed clients— folks who struggle with both severe mental illness and substance abuse disorders — and supported them on the path to independence.

But the work was even harder than it sounds. Because of red tape, our team was assigned more clients than we were supposed to have and we couldn’t do a thing about it (without losing funding). The result: a state of perpetual crisis response. In an environment like that, taking a breather feels radical.

All this to say, I know what it is to work 8-hours straight without eating or using the bathroom, and it’s wrong.

Perhaps some people can stay healthy in that environment. I couldn’t. It wore me down, and I soon realized that I couldn’t overextend myself at work with the intention to make up for it at home.

My only option was to fight for my humanity while on the clock.

So I carved out some simple boundaries to protect myself and model a healthier way for others.

Here’s What I Did to Rest at Work:

Steven R. Durgin

Writes about personal growth. Figuring out what it means to be human.