7 Types of Rest You Need

With Lunar New Year approaching and time off from school for the children, carving out time to rest and relax is necessary for your health and well-being. Are you exhausted even after you slept for the recommended eight-ten hours? Or continued to feel irritable and annoyed by anyone and everyone you encountered even after you took a break? If you answered yes to either of these questions, this might be due to not getting the type of rest you need to recharge. According to Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, “Rest should equal restoration in seven key areas in your life.” The seven types of rest are physical, mental, sensory, creative, emotional, and spiritual. 

  • Physical Rest. Physical rest is the type of rest needed to alleviate the body of physical stress, including lack of sleep and muscle pain. It is the first type of rest that we typically turn to when we need to rest or take a break. A very common way to physically rest is to sleep, nap, or just lounge without putting your body through exertion. Other ways to physically rest are light yoga and stretching, which helps to get your blood circulating. 
  • Mental Rest. To calm your mind down and give your brain a rest, mental rest is needed. You know you need mental rest when you try to go to sleep, but your mind won’t shut down and it keeps you awake. Some ways to mentally rest include mindfulness activities such as meditation, taking regular short breaks during the day, or journaling. 
  • Sensory Rest. You need sensory rest to reduce the overstimulating amount of sensory input you receive, including bright lights and sounds (phones, computers, television screens, and/or people around you). Take a moment to step away from the chaos, put on some earplugs or headphones with calming music, and/or turn off all of the electronics. 
  • Creative Rest. When you need to feel inspired and motivated or when you need to find new and fresh ideas, it is time for creative rest. Take the time to explore and appreciate the outdoors or print out photos or quotes that spark your imagination. 
  • Emotional Rest. When you find yourself masking your emotions or when your temper flares unexpectedly, it is time for emotional rest. You need emotional rest in order to be able to express yourself freely and authentically. For example, give yourself space, journal, or talk to someone who won’t judge you – a close friend, family member, or therapist. 
  • Social Rest. Social rest is critical when relationships prove to be draining or toxic. If there are people who are constantly taking from your energy bank, remove yourself from them or be with people who lift you up. 
  • Spiritual Rest. Spiritual rest is about finding meaning and purpose in your life. It keeps you connected and grounded. If you feel disconnected, do volunteer work in the community, get together with like-minded people, or read something meaningful. 

During these challenging and uncertain times, it is essential to rest to rejuvenate your mind and body. Once you identify what kind of rest you need, be intentional and find restful activities. When YOU feel good, everything else falls into place. Dr. Dalton-Smith claims, “Rest is the most underused, chemical-free, safe, and effective alternative therapy available to us.” 

To hear more from Dr. Dalton-Smith, check out her TedTalk and/or read her book: Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity. If you want to identify what type of rest you need, Dr. Dalton-Smith has even created an online quiz – be prepared to answer questions that might take you out of your comfort zone!