My best friend gave me Time Off: A Practical Guide to Building Your Rest Ethic and Finding Success Without the Stress by John Fitch and Max Frenzel and illustrated by Mariya Suzuki for my birthday this summer. It was much needed and it was a joy to read in late October, as we headed for another lockdown in a crazy year, where switching off from work, when work is now at home, has become more difficult than ever.
It’s a beautiful book to dip in and out of, and in fact it regularly encourages you to – with beautiful illustrations that tell you to put it down and go and look out of the window, journal, call someone you love, get some exercise, take a nap, stretch, go for a walk in nature, practice a daily ritual, listen to your favourite song, and put your phone on airplane mode.
It picks up all of the themes of the happiness literature (see my blogs on happiness), with chapters on creativity, rest, sleep, exercise, solitude, reflection, play, and travel, and ends by looking at technology and the future of work. By peppering each chapter with case studies from public figures it shows how impactful that following the advice it gives can be and it also has very helpful ‘practice tips’ in each chapter, for those of us inclined to read and agree with the analysis, whilst forgetting to act on it.
None of this was really new to me, but it was put together in such an enjoyable way, that just picking it up was like taking a deep, relaxing breath. It also added to my desire to read more about the Stoics, whose attitude to life feels partcicularly pertinent in this year of Covid-19. It reminded me how travel will be at the top of my list when life returns to normal – I am already missing the restorative power of going somewhere completely new, experiencing time slow down as I immerse myself in a different culture and having no ability to do jobs around the house instead of properly switching off.
This is the perfect book to read for anyone feeling frazzled as the bizarre year of 2020 draws to a close.