How to Build a Healthy Rest Ethic to Avoid Depression

July 1, 2020 Mahevash Shaikh

Most of us are well aware of the importance of a strong work ethic to succeed in one's professional life, but the idea of a healthy rest ethic isn't well known. In fact, thanks to today's hustle culture which demands that we work as much as possible, we are acutely overworked across generations.1 Irrespective of what certain people in positions of power want us to believe, overworking, also known as hustling, is bad for the mind and body.

Adequate leisure is crucial for not only producing quality work but also for keeping mental illnesses like depression in check. This is why I believe that a healthy rest ethic, no matter how frivolous or snowflakey it may sound, is just as important for your career and mental health as a work ethic. Working yourself to the bone eventually leads to burnout and depression, and I can personally vouch for how difficult it is to recover from either of them. As they say, prevention is better than cure, so let's take a look at how you can get the rest you need. 

Tried and Tested Tips to Cultivate a Healthy Rest Ethic

  1. Stop when you are tired. -- I cannot stress how important it is to not push yourself to keep working when your mind demands some time off. While overwork cannot be completely avoided in the modern world, do your best to ensure that you make it the exception, not the rule. Let the world live by the toxic "don't stop when you're tired, stop when you're done," pseudo-motivational school of thought. When you feel overwhelmed and need to recuperate from mental or physical fatigue, respect your health enough to stop working. You can always start fresh tomorrow, or a few days later. Allow yourself to recover instead of continuing to work as if your life depends on it. 
  2. Rewire your brain. -- Ever since we were little children, we are told to work hard far more times more than we are told to relax. If you ask me, we are consistently conditioned to believe that work is what makes us worthy and we must do it without any complaints. Worse, very little importance is given to taking breaks and having fun. The "rise and grind" school of thought courtesy of hustle culture has made things worse. The result is that we often think we don't deserve to stop until we take care of everything on our to-do lists. Even if we do stop working for the day, we end up feeling guilty for not working hard enough. Via trial and error, I have rewired my brain by routinely reminding myself that breaks refresh the mind and help me do some of my best work. 
  3. Add it to your regular routine. -- Many of us rely on daily to-do lists in our personal and professional lives. So if you can't stop working and rewiring your brain is proving to be a challenge, pencil in some time to not work every single day. Over time, you will look forward to "unhustling" so much so that you will compulsively integrate it into both your career and life in general. What will make this even easier is when you redefine relaxation time according to your personal preferences. For example, if watching comedy helps you unwind more than a nap, go for it. On the other hand, if a digital detox is what you need to feel at ease, don't hesitate to do just that. 

A healthy rest is indispensable for success and peace of mind in the long run, even if influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk advocate "working your face off." Even if you are very busy, always do your best to ensure you slow down and just be. After all, there is a lot more to life than work. 

How do you ensure you regularly take healthy rest times off from work? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments below. 


  1. Sara B., "Overwork and Burnout Affects All the Generations in the Workplace." Workplace Insight, September 12, 2016.
Tags: healthy rest

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2020, July 1). How to Build a Healthy Rest Ethic to Avoid Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

July, 2 2020 at 2:37 pm

I am tired of everybody "bragging" about how busy they are to just be. Never heard of rest ethic, I hope it catches on soon because it is common sense to play and not just work, work, work, work, work!!!!!

July, 3 2020 at 4:17 am

Very well explained is a requisite for success and peace of mind in the long run. We have to keep in mind to take complete and healthy rest as overworking can be very bad for our mind as it leads to depression also.

Lizanne Corbit
July, 5 2020 at 8:06 pm

This is such a wonderful read for making the connection between rest (or lack of) and depression. Also Yahoo! to the comments above. We need to stop glorifying exhaustion and running ourselves into the ground. Rest (and play!) are vital parts of a truly healthy and balanced life.

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