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The 7 types of rest and how to restore them

If you’re someone who utters the words ‘I’m so tired’ at least once a day, then listen up. You might be feeling tired, but do you know what type of tiredness you’re feeling? That’s right - there is more than one way to feel restored, not just by getting a good kip in. In fact, there are a total of seven types of rest, which might explain why you’re still feeling exhausted after that daily power nap. So how can we really feel well rested? Read on to find out.

Rest is one of the most important aspects of our wellbeing. Without it, we are much more likely to feel stressed, overwhelmed and reach burnout. Resting our bodies is crucial for our health, but there are many other parts of our being that need rest as well. Each type of rest has its own characteristics that show up if we have a deficit. The seven types are: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social and creative.

Physical rest

If you’re in need of physical rest, the symptoms that might show up are aches in the body, or that heavy feeling in your body that accompanies when you’re struggling to keep your eyes open.

There are two types of physical rest (I know, but bear with me). You can rest physically in both an active and passive way. Passive looks like sleeping and napping, whilst active rest is more of a restoration activity like yoga, stretching or having a massage.

Mental rest

Don’t worry, there’s only one type of mental rest! You know when you get into bed and your mind is racing? No matter how hard you try you just can not fall asleep. That’s a sign that you need some mental rest. Another is when you walk into a room and for the life of you, you can’t remember what it is you went in there for. If you have a mental rest deficit, your concentration and recall of information will be where you notice it!

Things that can help you to rest mentally might be: taking regular breaks, organising and scheduling your time efficiently, eliminating stressors in your life, meditation and mindfulness - even taking a mindful walk in nature could help.

Spiritual rest

Spiritual rest can, but doesn’t have to, refer to religious beliefs and connections. In a broader sense, the term ‘spirituality’ refers to how humans draw meaning from their lives, and how we connect to each other and the world around us. So, spiritual exhaustion happens when we’re not giving ourselves time to experience meaningfulness and connection.

Therefore, getting spiritual rest will look different for each individual. Have a think about what that sense of fulfilment and meaning looks like in your life, and then try to make space for things that reinforce it. Mantras and meditation are a great place to start if you need a little support.

Emotional rest

Are you crying more often than usual? Or maybe your temper is shorter than it normally is. There’s a chance you might be experiencing emotional exhaustion. This can also look like physical tiredness, a lack of motivation and being easily distracted.

To help with this, you might try journaling, or if that’s not for you, start with just writing down your feelings or a ‘brain dump’ - where you literally write down everything that is going on in your mind. A break from social media might help too, as this is often a whirlwind of others’ emotions, including the negative ones! Take some time alone to process your feelings and spend time doing things that make you feel good - self-care is key here!

Sensory rest

The world we live in today is full of stimuli. Just leaving the house involves different sounds, sights, smells, textures! Imagine the work our minds go through to process all this information. What happens is our minds filter it out to focus on the important information, but all the other stimuli are still being subconsciously processed. This can cause an overwhelm of all the sensory input we’ve received. You might notice you need some sensory rest after a day full of talking to multiple different people, or somewhere with a lot of loud noises or flashing lights.

Wind down in a quiet place with minimal distractions. Take some deep breaths or even try out some breathing exercises.

Social rest

Even Outgoing Olly needs a break from people every once in a while. Whether you’re an introvert or the most extroverted extrovert out there, social rest is important for connecting to ourselves. Our relationship with ourselves is the most important there is, it’s always there no matter what, and it’s the only one that truly lasts forever - so it’s important we take time to nourish it.

To do this, you might try journaling, spending time alone with yourself - going for a walk, watching your favourite movie or reading a book. Try some self-care activities like trying out a self-care meditation, yoga, or pampering yourself.

Creative rest

Creative rest is when we allow ourselves to appreciate beauty in different forms. This includes natural beauty - the waves of the sea, a blue sky, the way the snow covers the landscape like a white blanket - or created beauty - a painting, dance performance or music.

Maybe you’re finding it tough to come up with new ideas at work and brainstorming is just a ‘no’ at the moment. It might be that you’re feeling a lack of inspiration. Ways to restore creative rest might look like less ‘doing’ and more ‘observing’ - journal, people watch, get inspiration from a museum or the theatre. Take time to just observe and don’t rush to get all those new ideas done. Make a note of them and continue to explore until you feel well rested, creatively.

Ok, you might be wondering where the heck to start with all of this. Well, as we’ve outlined the symptoms of each different type of rest, make some time to think about your own needs and identify which type of tiredness you might be experiencing. If there’s a few - or seven - that’s ok, don’t freak out! It’s totally normal to be deficient in multiple areas of rest.

Try to prioritise by figuring out which type of tiredness is more important to you, or you need to restore most urgently. Maybe make a plan to schedule different activities that will help restore each type of rest you’re needing. Take things slow and don’t rush - you don’t want to reach burnout, that’s what we’re trying to prevent!

Do your best to rest: It’s easy in a world full of distractions to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether it’s a busy working life or chaos at home, we need rest to restore our energy and be our best self. Burnout comes with a whole lot of consequences, and remember - we’re prioritising ourselves and our wellbeing in 2023! So when you next feel a little tired, ask yourself what kind of tired am I feeling? What does it feel like? And what do I need right now? It might be a nap or a trip to the Tate Modern! Listen to your body, it knows best!




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