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  • Writer's pictureSarah M.

7 Types of Rest - The Difference and Importance

While there’s plenty to rave about when it comes to the benefits of sleep, as it turns out, it’s not the only form of rest that can recharge our almost constantly drained batteries.

According to some research, we actually require 7 (yes, seven) entirely different types of rest. And most of us probably aren’t getting the right ones for the kind of exhaustion we’re experiencing.

That's why even if you are getting a full 8 hours a night, there are times when you wake up in the morning still feeling sluggish, fatigued, and drained of energy. Research shows that sleep and rest are not the same thing.

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. - Saundra Dalton-Smith

Resting is a state where our body is chilled out from a stressed routine. It's a kind of activity that a person frequently does in order to regain their lost freshness or energy.

Sleep on the other hand is a kind of altered conscious state where the body shuts down all the physical and mental work.

While sleeping, our body is in its repair mode. All the vital components revitalize, and the cells continually rejuvenate during sleep.

Whereas resting is a very versatile action. This can vary from person to person, place to place or purpose to purpose. While resting, the body is conscious, but it tries to calm all its senses and get rid of any sort of stress.

Want to know the real reason why you’re tired? Here’s how to get the rest you deserve.

1. Physical Rest

I think it’s safe to say that we all know what physical exhaustion feels like. If you’re struggling to keep your eyes open or you’re on that endless cycle of yawns, a quick fix could be going to bed a few minutes earlier.

Whenever your body is asleep you’re catching up on passive physical rest, which is what so many of us traditionally consider to be “rest.”

However, physical rest is any activity that releases tension and restores calm to the physical body.

This type of rest consists of restorative activities like stretching, massages, yoga or even a hot bath.

Unlike a decent night’s sleep, active physical rest isn’t technically required for daily functioning, but it helps improve the body’s circulation and flexibility.

2. Mental Rest

Call it brain fog. The post-lunch haze. The 2 p.m. slump. This sudden whoosh of exhaustion is your body telling you that it’s time for a mental rest ASAP.

Mental rest is where you stop forcing your brain to work hard and give it some time to process information and make connections

A terrific way to do this is to schedule short breaks every couple of hours to take a walk, grab a bite to eat or practice mindful breathing, use this time to rest and reset even if it's for a couple of minutes.

Breaks like these remind our bodies to slow down, which gives us the capacity to tackle an additional two hours of productivity afterward.

3. Emotional Rest

Where are you spending your emotional energy? Has your brain turned to mush?

When a person is maxed out because they’re carrying more than their share of emotional labor, that person feels stifled and unable to express their emotional needs.

Emotional rest is the rest we experience when we have the space and time to cut back on people-pleasing and caretaking, and just ‘marinate in’ and express our authentic feelings.

Maybe you can you can offload to a therapist or friend with whom you’re able to fully be yourself.

4. Sensory Rest

Sensory rest is about giving your senses a break.

Take a quick second to survey the room around you. How many lights are on? Are you staring into a computer screen? If so, for how long? Is there any background noise? Funky smells?

No matter where you are - at the office, a coffee shop, or at home - things of this nature can overwhelm our senses. If you don’t make a conscious effort to keep these stimuli in check, you might find yourself experiencing sensory overload.

To give your senses a little rest, take a few moments to close your eyes and recharge. If you’re feeling up for a challenge, put aside the technology and stepping outside for fresh air if you're able to do so.

5. Creative Rest

For many, when they hear creative rest they may think, “I’m not creative,” or “I’m not an artist, musician, or actor.” But I am a firm believer that we all use our creativity at some point throughout the day.

Everything from pitching meetings and problem-solving to gratitude journaling and planning content utilizes those creative juices.

If you take a moment to think about it, I’ll bet you use your creativity more than you think.

That being said, wouldn’t you want to make sure your creativity is in full supply?

Giving yourself a creative reset looks different for different people, but it could be anything from taking a brisk walk through the park to getting lost in your favorite book or even practicing a quick gratitude ritual.

Activities like these relieve the pressure to create and offer some inspiration, which in turn replenishes your creative resources.

6. Spiritual Rest.

A spiritually exhausted person may feel that nothing they do is important, or that their job is devoid of meaning. These feelings can lead to burnout if left unchecked.

Regardless of your religious affiliation (or lack thereof), most humans need to feel connected to something larger than themselves.

Spiritual rest is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental realms and feel a deep sense of love, belonging, and purpose.

If you’re feeling a bit disconnected from the rest of the world, then you might need a little spiritual reboot.

For my religious bunch, this could mean devoting a few minutes to prayer each day.

You could also try your hand at a morning meditation.

Spiritual rest could also be achieved by devoting some time to volunteering in your community or participating in something that grounds you and makes you feel larger than yourself.

7. Social Rest

Introverts know just how exhausting socializing can be. To give ourselves social rest, it’s important to balance any draining social encounters with rejuvenating ones.

An easy way to differentiate between the two is to make a list of all the people in your life that you find easy to be around, enthusiastically supportive, and genuinely kind.

Then, make a second list of all the people you find draining, demanding, or simply exhausting to spend time with.

From there, make a conscious effort to maximize time spent with the former group of people and limit the time you spend socializing with the latter.

I know this might seem brutal but trust me, you will start to feel loads better after tackling this type of rest.

How do you know which of the 7 types of rest you need?

At one point or another, you’re going to need every type of rest on this list.

You probably need more than one type of rest right this second.

But depending on what you’re currently spending your day doing, and how you’ve been feeling about what’s on your plate is a huge clue.

Do you dread going to work, because you feel like a zombie all day? It’s time for a mental or sensory rest.

Are you procrastinating finishing your prolonged project because negative thoughts keep creeping in? Creative rest time.

Did you just spend eight months planning a big event and never want to hear the word “catering” ever again? A spiritual rest is calling.

And how much of these types of rest do you need, anyway?

While you should get seven-to-nine hours of passive physical rest every day, there is no cut-and-dry answer for the other types of rest.

If you work in an office, mental and sensory rest should be a daily part of your workday routine, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes every few hours.

If you frequently do creative projects, whenever you’re feeling blocked would be a great time to take a creative rest.

And whenever you find yourself frustrated with yourself or other people, it’s a great time to step back and incorporate an emotional, social or spiritual rest into your day.

Take a minute to check in with yourself. Where do you feel rested? And which aspects of your life could use a little reboot?

If your sleeping habits aren’t quite doing it, then it might be time to work these 7 types of rest into your daily routine.

Which one will you start with?



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