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What Is R and R?

For many people, R and R means “rest and relaxation” or “rest and recreation.” For example, an overworked executive might say, “I’m so glad it’s Friday! I need some R and R.” It can mean a vacation, or just a slow, quiet day at home—anything except the grueling, often dreary work that consumes most of us on a day to day basis.

What may come as a surprise to some people is that R and R was originally a military term, and that its original meaning is “rest and rehabilitation.” Essentially, troops who had been exposed to the physical, emotional and psychological demands of war and defense were sent on leave. The rest, of course, referred to a chance for the body to recover from the sleepless nights and the rigorous and unrelenting work that soldiers must go through in often uncomfortable conditions. However, the “rehabilitation” recognized that some may need some counseling or other emotional assistance given the intense stress and tragedy they may see on the battlefield.

Of course, not all military personnel may need psychological help, though just the opportunity to mix with civilians or be with loved ones can provide much-needed relief. However, there are instances when they may find it difficult to “reintegrate” with every day society, or even adjust to a different environment. This is what happens to sailors, who have only a few days to get used to wide spaces after months of small and confined living conditions.

In any case, R and R – both in its original context or meaning in military lingo, and the current meaning it has in everyday society – affirms the need for people to take a break from stressful conditions.

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