Is there a commonly used German equivalent to the phrase "a change is as good as a rest"?

It is a quite literal application in English. If you are very tired from working on the same thing for a long time, doing something else can revive your energy as much as taking a rest or a nap.

When I was very young, we spent our weekends and summers with my grandmother who was a native German speaker. I remember her often saying a phrase in German when we said we were too tired to do more homework or more housework. When asked "what does that really mean?" She would say "a change is as good as a rest. Now go do something else and stop whining."

The online translation sounds clunky and not familiar. As we got older she would also tell us this same thing when were ruminating or wallowing in something. But by then she rarely spoke in German anymore and used the English version. She would say you must distract yourself or discipline your mind to think of something else. A change is as good as rest. So I wonder if the original was more about the think/feel/act Cognitive Behavioral theory or was just as simple as telling someone go something else and you will be less tired.

  • 2
    I'd call this a proverb or saying rather than an idiom. For something to be an idiom the literal meaning needs to be different than the actual meaning. With this one you could translate the phrase into any other language and the meaning would still be clear.
    – RDBury
    Nov 13, 2020 at 23:40

2 Answers 2


There are thousands of idioms and it is really very difficult to guess the right one with the clues given. The idiom itself would, however, be translated as

Abwechslung tut Wunder

but I'm not sure if this is really a well-known german saying.

However, it reminds me of a popular latin phrase and its translation

variatio delectat - Abwechslung erfreut


Another phrase adults may say which fits "a phrase in German when we said we were too tired to do more homework or more housework"

Erst die Arbeit, dann das Vergnügen.

  • 2
    In other words: no, there no commonly used German equivalent.
    – HalvarF
    Nov 13, 2020 at 23:28

Perhaps, though still quite far off, she quoted jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne ‘there is some magic in every new beginning’ from Hermann Hesse’s poem Stufen ’Steps‘.

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