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7 Types Of Rest* - And How To Get More Of Them

When talking about rest, we often think of the common restful activities we do – sitting down with a good book, going to bed or perhaps even having a scroll through social media whilst sitting on the sofa with the tv playing in the background.

All feel like they should be restful, but is an early night always the type of rest you need?

Let’s start with the most recognised rest and that’s Physical rest. This can be considered the act of passive activities such as sleep, and napping, etc but can also be lightly active such as stretching and yoga.

Anything that requires zero to minimal physical effort and feels good for your body can be considered physical rest so you can get more of this by perhaps scheduling an early night with a good book a few times a week; adding in some gentle stretches of yin yoga to your night time routine or getting in a massage.

Also consider how you can improve your work environment so it is looking after your body with things like good posture, comfortable lighting and support for your back etc.

As a highly sensitive introvert this next one is a favourite of mine – Social Rest! This includes activities that we do on our own AND it can also be the feeling you get from spending time with people that give you energy rather than drain you of it.

This is not about isolating yourself, but more about balancing who you spend your time with.

Spending too much time alone can be just as draining as hanging out with energy vampires or people who don’t make you feel great. When we spend adequate time with the right people, we feel buoyed up by a sense of belonging, of being part of a community as well as having the space to be with our own thoughts and feelings too.

Find the people that fill you up and spend as much time with them as you do by yourself.

If you are someone that does a lot of problem solving and creating, you may sometimes find that your well of inspiration runs dry and you lose love for what normally fills you up.

This can be an indication you need some creative rest – to soak up the beauty of the world to fill your creative cup once more. Creative rest is about being present, noticing the beauty of the world around you and seeking inspiration from there, rather than continually drawing on yourself for inspiration.

Adding more of this type of rest can support you to feel more creative, more inspired and more able to innovate and problem solve in the long term.

This next one will vary depending on your own feelings and beliefs, but it is still a type of rest we all need from time to time and that’s Spiritual Rest.

This is made up of activities and behaviours that take you out of yourself and put you back in touch with something bigger.

That may be God, The Universe, the thing that gives you purpose and meaning – whatever it is, it can be easy to lose sight of it amongst the mundane treadmill of life.

You’ll recognise needing this rest if you frequently feel disconnected from life and that you lack purpose or fulfilment. Finding ways to connect with whatever the divine means for you will help you fill up your spiritual cup.

That could be meditation, spending time in nature, volunteering at your local homeless shelter or food bank – it’s anything that will give you meaning and purpose.

Feel like your brain never switches off and one thought tumbles after another? You, my love need some mental rest.

Overthinking, feeling overwhelmed yet unable to switch off are all signs you need to give your brain a break.

Make sure you are scheduling in regular breaks to support you switch off autopilot and try some grounding practices to help bring you out of your mind and back into your body.

Making sure you are making time for mental rest will support you to increase your long-term capacity to get things done, to get focused and then stay focused

Whilst burnout and overwhelm can be signs you need mental rest, they can also be a sign of you needing emotional rest too.

Poor boundaries, people pleasing, taking in too much and generally living life in a patriarchal, late capitalism, white supremacy, ableist culture is – let’s be honest - FUCKING EXHAUSTING.

Enforcing boundaries, learning to say NO, completing the stress cycle and allowing yourself to feel and express your emotions are all ways to release the pressure and give your emotions a rest.

Emotional rest is a priority as long term it impacts your physical and mental wellbeing too if you can find ways to protect your emotional energy.

Did you know that your brain receives about 74GB of information each day? That’s more than would fit in my phone’s memory, and as that research was done in 2017, it’s probably even higher now. It's no wonder we need sensory rest too.

Background noise, zoom calls, social media videos, pinging phone notifications, traffic sounds, kids playing, cooking smells whilst you work from home... The list goes on and the sensory overwhelm can feel exhausting, even if you feel like you had a good day.

Sensory overload syndrome happens when your nervous system feels so over saturated with information, it enters a fight or flight state, flooding you with stress hormones and making it difficult to relax.

This can happen to anyone, but is more common if you have something like ADHD, PTSD or other similar/chronic conditions so if that’s you, making sure you seek out sensory rest can be a game changer for your nervous system.

Find ways to minimise sensory input, schedule and prioritise screen free time; seek out gentle, soothing ways to wind down at the end of the day and week so take the sensory pressure off of your system so you can fully relax when the time comes.

Doing this will support you to manage your mental health, feel calmer and in control as well as seek pleasure through gentle stimulation that isn’t overwhelming for your system.

I’ve certainly written more than I intended and I think that’s because rest in all its forms is SO important to me!

We write it off and downgrade it as something we’ll get round to eventually, or finally give in when we fall ill rather than seeing it as an active practice that can be woven through your day to support you.

Rest is not the opposite of work, it’s a partner to it and can be used to enhance your creativity, relationships and overall quality of life when experience with intention and purpose.


If you'd like help weaving more rest into your life, why not book in for a free discovery call and lets chat about how I can support you.

*The 7 types of Rest was originated by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith in her book Sacred Rest - you should definitely check her out.


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