Last updated November 1, 2023
There are 7 types of rest. How do you know which one(s) you really need?
Are you tired after a complete night of sleep? Feeling “rested” doesn’t always happen from a full night’s sleep.
In her viral TEDx talk, board-certified internal medicine physician Saundra Dalton-Smith reveals 7 types of rest that are needed to feel fully energized and reset.
We can’t just fill our cup with one thing—we need to fill it with several types of rest to feel our best. Just like our devices, we need time to recharge but we are the only ones who can plug in and unplug.
Prioritize These 7 Types of Rest
Each type of rest has to do with different parts of our mental, physical and spiritual well-being. We outline below the 7 types of rest according to Dr. Dalton-Smith. Are you getting the right type of rest?
1. Physical Rest
Physical rest can be both passive and active—meaning we can be napping and sleeping or doing yoga, stretching, using a foam roller or getting a massage.
Obviously passive physical rest is important daily, whereas active physical rest can be implemented two to three times a week. Physical rest could also mean sitting out of the HIIT class you signed up for and instead going for a walk.
If you have a desk job, physical active rest is highly important to release pain or swelling in your body that is caused from sitting for extended periods of time.
2. Mental Rest
This type of rest is the most commonly avoided. Many people spend their days doing so many things and it can be difficult to find a passive mental state.
Our minds are engaged in work, conversations or being stimulated from outer circumstances at all times. If you lack mental rest during the day, you will likely be kept awake with racing thoughts at night.
Disconnecting means taking intentional time away from things that may mental exhaust you after too much consumption—technology is the key culprit of mental rest deprivation.
3. Sensory Rest
Nowadays we consume content and external stimuli all day. Bright lights, computer screens, noises and phone notifications can overwhelm our senses. Taking intentional time away from devices is key to getting sensory rest.
One simple way to do this is by taking a walk in nature without your phone. If you really want to challenge yourself, dedicate one day each week for a tech-break.
Irritation, short temper, agitation or unprecedented anger could all be signs that you are experiencing sensory overload from that day. Take time for yourself, away from distraction or an environment with subtle sensory details.
4. Creative Rest
If you’re in a creative job role you may be questioning how this is possible. Creative rest is about igniting creativity from outside environments without brainstorming or solving creative problems.
It can come from experiencing a new food, traveling to a new place, walking through an art gallery or listening to live music. Innovative ideas are usually born in these environments more so than they are in static work environments.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way gives our inner artist permission to have free flowing creativity with morning pages. She instructs readers to write a stream of consciousness through morning pages which are meant to be fluid, free-flowing thoughts instead of assignments, tasks or strategies.
5. Emotional Rest
This type of rest isn’t always easy to express. It requires vulnerability and a willingness to say, “I’m not doing okay.” It also requires the word, “no” instead of “yes.”
In this day and age, over commitment is becoming a default. There is such thing as doing TOO much. You are not obligated to assume the caretaker role for everyone.
Start saying no and see how empowered you feel by doing so. One of the best ways to sort through your emotions is by journaling, undergoing therapy or releasing what’s on your heart to a willing listener.
6. Social Rest
Listen up social butterflies. This type of rest sometimes requires us to remove ourselves from social commitments and evaluate relationships or daily habits that are no longer serving us. Some relationships exhaust and some revive—select who you spend your time with carefully.
We don’t give ourselves enough time to stop and ask ourselves who is adding or taking away from our best selves. Socializing is also more accessible than ever with social media, Zoom and FaceTime all within reach.
Just because we have the ability to connect with others anytime we want doesn’t mean it’s what is always going to serve our well-being.
7. Spiritual Rest
In order to connect deeper with ourselves, there needs to be an element in our daily lives or a ritual that connects us with something greater. This could include meditation, yoga, prayer or community involvement.
Spiritual rest isn’t about accomplishing goals, but looking deeper within yourself to connect with what you are really feeling.
7 Types of Rest to Fully Restore
Sleep will never be enough to fully restore us. We need all 7 types of rest to be balanced in order to feel and perform our best.
It is universally known that you need to get seven-to-nine hours of sleep (passive physical rest) daily, but there isn’t a science to how much time should be dedicated to the other six areas. It really depends on each individual and where they are usually allotting their time.
If you’re not sure where you are lacking rest, Dr. Dalton-Smith created a rest quiz to help you narrow down on the areas that need the most attention. Start by choosing the area of rest that is lacking the most and implement little daily practices to shift your outlooks and behaviors. You will feel rested and recentered in no time!
Feeling rested yet?
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