How do you recharge? Perhaps you take the occasional nap, zone out with a good book, or sleep in on weekends to give yourself an added energy boost when you need one. But you still feel flat and exhausted afterwards. It turns out that you could be missing out on the secret to truly rejuvenating rest.
Shutting off your brain for a while can certainly provide you with rest in some cases, but it’s actually only one of many forms of rest that help us to function at our peak. Physician Saundra Dalton-Smith, M.D., the author of Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Renew Your Sanity, says that humans in fact need 7 different types of rest: physical, mental, creative, emotional, social, spiritual and sensory.
According to Dalton-Smith, many people have a one-sided approach to rest, thinking that they will be well-rested if they kick up their feet and do nothing for a while. She says that this rarely works, and leaves people deprived of quality rest more often than not. She also tells her patients that if they consistently wake up exhausted after sleeping, the issue is likely a rest deficit rather than a lack of sleep.
Getting the Right Rest for Your Needs
Getting the right kind of rest for your needs requires you to assess exactly what you are missing. If you have deficits in certain areas, such as mental rest, you may experience specific symptoms like concentration issues. If you have a sensory deficit, you might find that loud noises jar and frazzle you, despite normally loving lively concerts and fireworks displays.
Once you determine the type of rest you need, you’ll need to adapt your resting habits to suit your needs. It isn’t enough to cancel your plans and stay in and watch TV. This can actually result in more fatigue than before as so many of us need a break from our screens.
Here are the 7 types of rest everyone needs to feel genuinely rejuvenated and recharged.
Exploring the 7 Types of Rest
Physical exhaustion is easy to pinpoint. You will battle to keep your eyes open and stay awake, and even walking the length of your home will feel like a challenge. The most common type of physical rest is sleep, so if you feel physically exhausted, try going to bed 30 minutes earlier and limiting strenuous physical exercise to give yourself a break.
You can also enjoy physical rest by breathing deeply throughout the day and enjoying activities that relax you. Once you find yourself with more energy to spare, you’ll know that this approach is working.
2. Mental Rest
If you’re suffering from brain fog, concentration difficulties and a brain that feels like cotton wool, you may need mental rest. Whenever you need a mental break, switch off your devices and take some time to center yourself by meditating or repeating a relaxing mantra.
Sometimes you might need a full day without screens to address mental exhaustion.
3. Creative Rest
Our creative brains are always hard at work devising solutions to work problems, planning events, and looking forward into the future. It’s no wonder that our minds need creative rest from time to time.
You can provide this rest for yourself by going for a gentle hike in nature, reading a gripping novel, and surrounding yourself with creative inspiration that replenishes your creative resources instead of drawing from them.
4. Emotional Rest
Do you find yourself feeling emotionally exhausted, confused, overwhelmed, and drained? You need emotional rest. Give yourself what you need by speaking to a willing listener about your feelings and reading up on ways to prevent emotional overload in the future and set healthy boundaries.
You could even schedule some therapy sessions and find yourself a support group to lighten the load.
5. Social Rest
The introverts among us will already know that socializing can be tiring, but it’s important to balance these draining experiences with restoring interactions.
Social rest could involve catching up with a close friend who you can be yourself around, enjoying a family lunch, or even taking a night off from socializing online and reconnecting with your own needs.
6. Spiritual Rest
If you feel as though you are drifting, un-anchored and lacking in direction in life, you could need some spiritual rest. That could mean engaging in religious and spiritual rituals and practices, but it could also entail seeking out your own personal sense of purpose.
Try volunteering for a worthy social cause, or joining a supportive group with whom you can discuss the current state of the world and how you can make a difference.
7. Sensory Rest
Sensory fatigue is one of our most common and widespread modern challenges thanks to the constant presence of screens, social media, and online interactions.
According to Dalton-Smith, this can cause neck tension, eye strain, and even strained and broken relationships when it becomes easier to interact with the smartphone than your spouse. Enjoy some sensory rest by putting your screens down, reading a book, getting outside for some fresh air, and limiting your online time significantly.
When Less Is More
Understanding the different types of rest required to maintain physical and psychological wellness and how your needs compare is challenging. Especially in a world that demands us to be constantly on the go.
However, now that you know that you need a variety of different forms of rest, you’re better equipped to identify what your body and mind crave. You can create healthy habits that help you to meet these needs in ways that replenish you, rather than exhausting you.
Remember to give yourself permission to relax, to rest, and to take breaks when you need them.
Many working members of modern society find that they don’t feel worthy if they are doing less, or if they are not generating value for their employers or their families in some way.
Give yourself permission to do less, and sometimes to do nothing at all, depending on what will best serve your needs. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
As an editor, Ellen Klein covers topics such as financial management and risk management, as well as health-related topics. She’s a realist and believes that planning for life’s unknowns is best. When she’s not busy with volunteer social work, she can be found scribbling away at her keyboard.
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