Culture Trips

How rest and relaxation became an art

Change was coming anyway. In early 2019, a survey of more than 2,200 people across the UK found that 78% of Millennials actively engage in JOMO (the joy of missing out, as opposed to FOMO, the fear of missing out), when friends cancelled drinks, or parties were shelved. In February 2020, California-based psychiatrist Dr Cameron Sepah created the concept of ‘dopamine fast’, in which we reject the bings and bongs of modern life. Instead, we should allow ourselves to feel bored or lonely, or to take pleasure in simpler, slower, more natural activities, thereby addressing compulsive behaviours that may, in contrast to the way they’re portrayed, be simply making us more unhappy.

How do we do this? Firstly, by taking care of ourselves, and within this new parameter, there are some old favourites. The Art of Rest is based on a survey which asked more than 18,000 people which 10 activities they found most restful. Number seven was  bathing. Hammond’s chapter A Nice Hot Bath (which includes fun facts such as ‘a layer of bubbles prevents heat escaping’) should have us running for the tub. The launch last year of Lush’s We the Bathers campaign, with a short film exploring these intimate moments of self care, now feels like a moment of pre-pandemic intuition.

But there are other types of baths that are gaining in currency. Sound-bath sessions using gongs or Tibetan singing bowls have been named as one of 2020’s Conde Nast Traveller’s biggest wellness trends. Once found principally at New Age retreats, their acolytes today include high-profile figures such as Robert Downey Jr and Charlize Theron. But behind the glossy celebrity patronage lies a long history. For more than 40,000 years, aboriginal tribes used the didgeridoo in similar ways. In the Tibetan spiritual tradition, gongs are believed to have deep spiritual links with the nature of the cosmos.

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