The 7 Types of Rest You Actually Need In Your Life
I’m sure we’ve all had seasons where it just seems that no matter how much sleep we get we are always still tired. Some of us 30 and over just call that “life” now. To be serious though, some health and diet reasons could explain part of that. But have you ever considered that you might be sleeping, but never fully resting? Contrary to how it sounds, “sleeping” and “resting” are not entirely interchangeable terms, and there are actually 7 essential types of rest you need in your life to really feel recharged!
So if you’re getting a full night’s sleep and still not feeling rested throughout the day, you may be deficient in one or a few of the other types of rest you need. But what are all these different types of rest, and how do you make sure you’re getting enough of them?
I’m glad you asked.
Here are the 7 types of rest you actually need in your life to feel totally recharged:
One of the most obvious types of rest you need is physical rest. And it’s just what it sounds like.
Your body physically needs a certain amount of rest every day to replenish your energy, repair itself, and become fit for another day. Sleep is the most necessary way your body physically rests. The amount of sleep you need each day is dependent on factors such as age and health conditions, but the average adult needs at least 7 hours or more.
If you’re not getting adequate sleep each night, your body is never fully resting. Consider going to bed a couple of hours earlier. If you struggle with insomnia, try some calming relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep and get better sleep through the night. Meditation and nightly routines can help tell your brain it’s time to go to sleep.
Other ways you can achieve moments of physical rest throughout the day include:
- sitting and allowing yourself some deep breaths
- restorative yoga and stretching that relieves tension in the body
- periodic short naps
- taking a rest day from the gym to let your muscles recover
Another of the significant types of rest you need in your life is mental rest.
Whether you realize it or not, you are being bombarded all day with constant information from various sources all fighting for space in your mind. Whether it’s from your coworkers at work, your family members at home, texts, the internet, social media, the news, television, things you read, etc, you are intaking a lot of information all day, every day.
The good news is that your mind is amazing and can process and hold more information than you might be aware of. But just like your body, your mind also needs periods of rest to recover from all that activity.
Without proper mental rest, your thoughts start to scatter and it becomes difficult to focus. You’ll make more mistakes at work and find yourself in a sort of “mental fog”. Stress and anxiety can begin to build up resulting in physical headaches.
Rest is also needed for your brain to store and catalog memories and emotions. Without rest, you generally do not remember as much and process events in an effective way.
To make sure you are getting proper mental rest, find something that works best for you to clear your mind and give it a break from all the demands and distractions. Try things like meditation that brings quietness and focus to the mind for a specific period of time. If you’re new to the concept, there are some meditation apps that can help walk you through it.
Other strategies such as calming and positive mantras and affirmations can help bring peace to the mind. Or even just taking a quiet walk outside listening only to the sounds of nature can help clear your mind and bring it rest.
The next type of rest you need might be less obvious, but it’s intuitive. And that’s emotional rest.
We’ve all felt it before, but maybe couldn’t put it into words. Some things are just so emotionally draining that you feel physically exhausted afterward. Things like having an argument with a friend, grieving the loss of a loved one, stressful politics (goodbye 2020, hello 2021), etc. Or even just watching Braveheart will do the trick (preaching to the sobbing choir over here).
If you’re in a season where you are going through a lot emotionally, you probably could use some emotional rest. This becomes even more necessary if the strain and exhaustion have lasted so long that it’s making you short-tempered, easily angered, irritable, and emotionally reactive.
You can experience emotional rest simply from offloading your feelings and anxieties by talking to someone. Find a family member, trusted friend, or seek professional counsel through a counselor or therapist who will listen and be able to advise you further on steps you can take to bring some peace to your strained emotions.
Enjoying all those memes and cat videos aren’t you? That’s because another way to seek emotional rest is through humor. Laughter helps us cope with unpleasant situations and gives our heavy emotions a break by lightening the mood. So go ahead. Watch another episode of The Office. For your health, of course.
Spiritual rest is another one of the important types of rest you need in your life.
Spiritual rest has to do with an overall sense of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in your life. If this inner part of yourself is out of balance, you will end up feeling weary, listless, and lacking in motivation.
Finding spiritual rest doesn’t necessarily have to do with religion, but it can if that is what’s important to you. Other ways to seek this kind of rest could be through things like journaling to discover what you feel your purpose is, volunteering for causes you believe in, and performing acts of kindness and selflessness for strangers.
One of the more essential types of rest you need in your life include creative rest.
If you consider yourself a creative person, you probably feel this one instinctively. But if creativity isn’t your thing, then you’re probably thinking this one’s outside your concern. But not so fast! You don’t have to be Picasso or Gordon Ramsay to experience creative depletion. And no, you’re NOT an “idiot sandwich”. No matter what Chef Ramsay says…
Humans are creative beings by nature. Even if you’re not painting or serving up a next-level Michelin star quality amuse-bouche in your kitchen, your mind is still working creatively throughout the day by solving problems, processing information, scheduling tasks, coming up with ideas, and making decisions. And you might be using more creative skills at your job than you’re aware of.
Creativity and inspiration are closely linked. So when you’re creatively depleted, you feel like you’re in a slump and uninspired. The best way to achieve creative rest is to give your own creativity a break and spend some time seeking things that inspire you. In The Artist’s Way, the definitive manual for un-blocking creativity, Julia Cameron instructs that you have an “inspiration tank”, which needs to be re-filled when you’ve used it all up. You can do this by taking yourself on “artist dates”. Cameron explains:
“The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic”– think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing.”
This could be anything that excites you like a trip to the museum, an art gallery, the zoo, the beach, or a craft store. Or even something as simple as journaling, shopping for gifts, reading a stimulating book, or going for a long walk in a park can help you achieve inspiration and creative rest.
Introverts, get excited. Because next up on the list of types of rest you need in your life is social rest.
But don’t throw away your razor and book a one-way ticket to Tibet to live with the monks and take a vow of silence and leg hair just yet (as I sadly begin unpacking my own bag…). Social rest in this case can be better explained as “social balance”.
Many people have busy social lives both online and in-person (though mostly online these days), while others might have spent the past several weeks of quarantine befriending a specific potato in the kitchen (hey there, Spuddy *wink*).
But both ends of the spectrum are socially draining in their own ways. Too many social interactions with too many people can be exhausting, and it is wise to take periodic breaks from the demands of social performance to recharge. However, not enough social interaction can be a little empty (Exhibit A: potato friends). All jokes aside though, too much isolation can lead to very serious side effects such as depression.
The key here is to have a few close relationships with people in your life who are always refreshing to be around – either reveling in just being yourself with them after a busy social calendar week full of casual acquaintances you’ve had to “perform” for, or as a welcome change from some solitary days. And you will know you’re at a good balance when you feel socially rested and energized more often than drained.
It’s important to make sure you cultivate these relationships, whether they are close friends or family members so that they are always there when you need them. And vice versa.
Last on the list of essential types of rest you need in your life is sensory rest. The need for sensory rest is something that has always been around but has perhaps become more prevalent, common, and notable in modern times with the advent of increasing levels of technology in our everyday lives.
If it’s not our phone screen in our face, it’s a laptop. If it’s not a laptop, it’s a tv. If it’s not a tv it’s an iPad. If it’s not an iPad, it’s an e-reader. I could go on here, but you get the idea (hello blue light exposure and eye strain). Also, most people live more congested in cities these days, with all the inherent bright lights, colors, and constant sounds. And you hardly ever see anyone without headphones at-the-ready anymore, and we’re always looking for that next show to binge-watch on Netflix.
Let’s face it. Our senses are in over-stimulation mode. Big time. So unless you’re that leopard-print-tattooed hermit living in a secret hideaway on a secluded island off the coast of Scotland (sounding better and better these days, to be honest) or a cloistered nun happily raising miniature horses (…may or may not be looking into that, too), you’re probably in need of some sensory rest.
How do you achieve sensory rest?
Turn. Off. Your. Devices.
At least for a little bit.
You can do it! I believe in you. Set aside some time to remove yourself from all of the overstimulation and find a nice, quiet place outside of the city you live in, a park, or even just a quiet place in your home if that’s all you can manage. The key here is to pursue silence. At least a little every day if you can. Nature is a refreshing balm to the senses, so go outside and take a walk. Take off your shoes and let your feet feel the grass. And then lay down in it. Meditate here, too, if you want. And let your senses rest.
You know yourself best. And now that you know there are several different types of rest you need, you’ll hopefully be more successful at targeting which specific type(s) are being depleted most in your life so you can take even better care of yourself and be truly refreshed. And then you can go ahead and congratulate yourself because you’ve just leveled-up in self-care.
Goodbye, fatigue. Hello, vitality!
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