We all know that feeling of exhaustion after a long day of work, where even a full night's sleep doesn't seem to recharge our batteries. Or you have a day filled of emotions, whether that’s happiness or sadness, and you feel totally drained of energy? That’s because we use energy in different ways, so we need to rest in different ways too.
In our busy (busy) world, we use our energy in more ways than one. We exercise, we work long hours, we are always online and stimulated. And burnout is on the rise, high levels of stress, and a constant demand for mental and emotional energy being all too common in the workplace. To beat burnout, it’s essential we get a good night’s sleep, but we also need to rest in more ways that just sleep. Developed by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, there are 7 types of tiredness, each requiring 7 types of rest.
“Sleep and rest are not the same thing, although many of us incorrectly confuse the two” Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith
1. Physical Rest
This is the type of rest we're most familiar with: sleep. Physical rest involves either passive rest (like sleeping or napping) or active rest (such as yoga, stretching, and massage therapy). Physical tiredness happens after exerting energy through your body, such as exercise, when your body can ache and your eyes feel heavy.
Deficit symptoms: Sore muscles, a sluggish body, and a general feeling of fatigue.
Mental rest is needed when you’ve been working your brain a lot during work or study. This can be how you feel when you’ve been crunching numbers all day or engaged in deep strategic planning. By the end, you find it hard to focus or even hold a casual conversation. Mental rest involves stepping away from cognitive tasks to allow our minds to decompress. This could be just doing nothing, or listening to music. A deficit here often leads to forgetfulness, poor concentration, and a sense of mental "fogginess."
Deficit symptoms: Poor concentration, brain fog or forgetfulness
“We go through life thinking we’ve rested because we have gotten enough sleep — but in reality we are missing out on the other types of rest we desperately need….We’re suffering from a rest deficit because we don’t understand the true power of rest.” Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith
3. Sensory Rest
Our senses are constantly bombarded with stimuli, from social media, screens or loud background noise. You can feel sensory overload if you’ve spend the day a noisy, bustling office environment. Sensory rest involves stepping away from these stimuli to give our senses a break. Symptoms of sensory overload include irritability, headaches, and an inability to concentrate.
Deficit symptoms: irritability, headaches, and an inability to concentrate
This type of rest is crucial for anyone who needs to innovate or solve problems. You may find yourself struggling to find creative inspiration or thinking about a problem with no idea on how to solve it. Creative rest can be found in stepping away from stimulation, or immersing yourself in nature. You might notice that you always tend to have your best ideas in the shower or on a walk and this is because your mind has space to wander and you’re finding inspiration from nature or music.
Deficit symptoms: Lack of inspiration, creative block, brain fog
Expose yourself to new experiences to inspire your
Read or listen to music with no other distractions
5. Emotional Rest
Emotional rest requires the space to express and feel your emotions authentically. You may feel exhausted from strong emotions over a short period, or you may have a longer term deficit if you’ve been unable to be open about your emotions or ‘let your guard down’. A deficit here can result in feeling low or, conversely, feeling emotional overload.
Deficit symptoms: Emotional exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, feeling like you have ‘brave face’
This type of rest means surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people who have a positive and supportive impact on your life and goals. A deficit in social rest can feel like social exhaustion, even after being around others. You could also feel anxious about being around a lot of people. You can find social rest by surrounding yourself with people who recharge your batteries (or don’t deplete them), or spending time on your own when you feel like you need a rest.
Deficit symptoms: Feeling drained, loneliness even when around people, social exhaustion
How to get social rest:
Quality time with friends or family that don’t use social battery
Say no or exit group chats if they feel overwhelming
7. Spiritual Rest
Spiritual rest involves feeling connected with something greater than yourself, whether that's through nature, religion, or a sense of purpose. It’s been found that people who have a strong sense of purpose live longer and happier lives. And a lack of spiritual rest can result in feeling unmoored or lacking direction.
Deficit symptoms: Lacking motivation or purpose, low sense of direction, disconnection
How to get spiritual rest:
Spend time in nature
Practice gratitude by keeping a journal or sharing your thankfulness with others.
Find a passion through hobbies that give you purpose
In our fast-paced world, it's all too easy to neglect these different types of rest. But recognising and addressing each one can lead to a more balanced, fulfilling life. You can tailor your rest to the way you have been spending your energy: if you’ve had a long week in work, take mental rest. Or if you’ve done a long run, have physical rest. Try to incorporate a little of each type of rest into your daily routine, and watch how your overall well-being transforms!
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