In a year when anxiety has robbed many of us of meaningful rest, The Art of Rest by Claudia Hammond is a welcome remedy.

More rigorous than a crystal waving self-help book, more conversational than a scientific textbook, this book hits just the right tone. Hammond uses the resources of the Wellcome Collection and an informed, intelligent foundation of scientific rigour to deliver new evidence around the importance of rest, yet delivers it in a style that is warm, chatty and supremely accessible.

This book documents the results of the global research project – The Rest Test – a research study where 18,000 people from 135 countries around the world were asked which activities they found most restful. This turned out to be a range of things; from mindfulness to music, spending time in nature or spending time in the bath. Hammond explores the benefits of a range of these pastimes, and even extols the virtues of simply doing nothing. When was the last time you did that? This book is a well-timed reminder that the human psyche does not deal well with the constant “fight or flight” response of high alert, and that down-time is vitally important for us mere mortals.

There is not a whiff of chalk dust about this book, and it is an easy read for tired minds and bodies who are seeking advice on how to get more rest in their lives. For those who do require the evidence to back up the advice the notes are comprehensive and a gateway for further reading.

Hammond’s broadcaster voice rings from the page, such that the book itself becomes a relaxing chat with a trusted friend. And it will come as a surprise to no-one that reading was shown to be a restful activity, so just by leafing through this book’s pages you will be doing yourself good and that’s as good a reason as any to immerse yourself in this illuminating, informative read.