Last Updated: July 27. 2022
Today I’m talking to you about the different types of rest. According to physician Saundra Dalton-Smith, M.D., author of “Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Renew Your Sanity,” Humans need physical, mental, social, creative, emotional, spiritual, and sensory rest. “For a lot of people, if you have a deficit in an area, you’re likely to experience specific symptoms,” Dalton-Smith says. “If your deficit is in mental rest, you might have trouble concentrating. If you have an emotional deficit, you may be snapping at your spouse, and they haven’t done anything. If you have a sensory rest deficit, maybe you used to love 4th of July fireworks, but now you’re jumping out of your skin or chronically anxious when getting out of the car.”
Below are seven types of rest that you need to know about.
The most common form of physical rest is sleep. You are resting your physical body. When you can’t physically keep your eyes open because you’re so exhausted from your day at work, that’s when you know you need physical rest. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly. This can impair your abilities to concentrate, think clearly, and process memories.
If you've ever studied for an exam or juggled midterms and finals, you know exactly what it feels like. Your brain does not have any energy left to give you. You may realize you’ve been staring at the same page of a book for 10 minutes or just sent a barely-comprehensible email.
The next time you need a mental break, turn off your screens and take a few moments to ground yourself. You might try adding meditation to your day or simply repeating a calming mantra.
If you’re an introvert like me, you’ll relate to this type of rest. Socializing can be exhausting. At the same time, we know that socializing is a fundamental human need. The key is to find a healthy balance between connecting with others and learning when to disconnect.
Physician Dalton-Smith stated, “My biggest deficit is social rest. I’m an overachiever, competitive, and I like moving toward goals—it becomes easy to be this solo warrior. So for me, social rest means finding people in my tribe—women I don’t have to compete with.”
Social rest might mean catching up with an old friend with whom you've always connected well. Or it could mean shutting off your phone for the evening and watching Netflix on your own to recharge your social batteries.
We're all creative. We all tap into our creativity daily, whether we even recognize it or not. If you've had to engage in any problem-solving in your workplace or if you've ever had to plan an event of some kind - you're using your creativity. You need creative rest when you feel like you're tapped out of that creativity, and nothing is coming to mind. Disconnect and come back to it at a later time. Give yourself a break by going on a walk in nature or reading a novel. Surrounding yourself with inspiration can help replenish your drained resources—and take the pressure to create off your mind.
Processing emotions, any emotions, can deplete you of your energy. For example, If you’ve been to therapy, you may have left your therapist’s office feeling emotionally exhausted. Or, if you’ve ever had a good crying spell or gotten into a verbal altercation with someone - think about the exhaustion that followed those situations. It's normal to experience that type of energy drain when heavy emotions come around. Take some time to rest, and replenish your energy levels by going for a walk or doing something different for yourself.
You may need some spiritual rest if you feel ungrounded, alone, or lacking a sense of purpose or motivation. Feel afloat, unanchored, alone? This could mean connecting with your religion (if religion is something you practice) or even seeking a sense of purpose that will help ground you and provide you with insight and a new perspective to help you feel your spiritual cup.
If you've ever felt particularly overwhelmed by the noises, sounds, or smells around you to the point where you had to remove yourself from that space, you may need sensory rest.
Your nervous system experiences constant, sometimes excessive, sensory input every moment.
Sensory input is not wrong, but when we have too much of it without any breaks, we experience sensory fatigue. We all have a specific window of tolerance. If we stay within our limits, we can function properly, but we lose rational control when we go beyond our limitations.
Catch up on sensory rest by putting aside the technology and stepping outside for fresh air if you can. Check in with yourself regularly. When your environment becomes overstimulating, it's time to take a step back from what you're currently engaged in and get some sensory rest.
What type of rest do you find yourself struggling with? Remember that there can also be more than one area of rest that requires your attention.
Let me know in the comments below!