Did you know that sleep and rest are not the same things, although many of us tend to confuse the two of them. We usually think that we're going to be rested because we’ve gotten enough sleep. When in reality, we’re missing out on the other types of rest we desperately need, so despite sleeping a good amount of hours, we still feel exhausted. We find ourselves suffering from a rest deficit because we don’t understand what rest is, so we do not fully understand its power.
To understand optimal rest, we need to know that there are 7 types of rest, not just sleeping or physically resting.
First of all: what is rest?
Rest includes restorative practices that we do to help rejuvenate our body and to help it get back to its optimal state.
Rest is about restoration. Restoring the parts of us that get depleted, the parts of us that get drained when we’re doing whatever those different activities that are part of our life.
We get disconnected when we use the word rest and sleep indistinctly. As if by saying I’m going to get good sleep you’re saying that you’re getting all of the restorations that you need and that is going to make you feel refreshed, rejuvenated, energized, and restored. And this is just not true. Sleep is just one type of physical rest.
In order to be and feel fully rested, we need to honor our restoration and see which areas we should prioritize when it comes to it. Maybe, you’re not aware of them needing to rest or maybe you are but you don’t do it. Either way, let’s see how to improve your 7 types of rest to feel and be the best version of yourself.
1- Physical rest
As we’ve seen, physical rest is one of the 7 types of rest. Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping. However, there can also be active physical rest which consists in doing restorative activities such as yoga, walking, stretching, massage, etc. These activities will help improve the body’s circulation and flexibility and will relax your muscles and release accumulated tensions.
2- Mental rest
Mental rest is the one we experience when we allow our head space to focus, concentrate, or clear out. Most of us spend a lot of time on mental unrest. For example, when you're going to sleep at night and you lie on your bed trying to fall asleep, but your mind won’t shut up. Your thoughts won’t stop coming, you’re running on your to-do list, etc. and you can’t get your head to go to that quiet zone.
A good strategy you can use here to “empty your mind” is brain dumping which is grabbing a piece of paper and start writing down whatever you’re ruminating on your head. Rumination tells the brain that this is something that you want to hold on to. If you’re ruminating over something it’s going to be very difficult for your mind to relax and rest.
Another thing you can do is to schedule short breaks to occur every 2 hours throughout your workday. These breaks will allow you and remind you to slow down.
3- Spiritual rest
Spiritual rest may look different to every person. But at its very core is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, gratitude, acceptance, and purpose. In order to get a good spiritual rest, you can engage in something greater than yourself. Some people experience this by praying, other people by meditating, it’s different for each one of us.
4- Emotional rest
Emotional rest involves having the space and time to freely express your feelings and cut back on people pleasing. We experience it when we feel the liberty to just be real, raw, and authentic about what’s going on with us mentally. You have to see with whom you can be that way, you get to choose who you’re emotional rest people are. But we all need that, having that feeling that we can never be vulnerable is in itself stress.
5- Social rest
If you’re in need of emotional rest, you probably have a social rest deficit too. This happens when we can’t differentiate between those relationships that revive us from those that exhaust us.
To experience more social rest, try to surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Even if it’s virtually. Try to analyze which are those exhausting relationships, try to avoid them as much as possible when you canthem, and put your focus on your healthier relationships that revive you and make you feel good.
6- Sensory rest
Sensory rest requires us to take a look at the sensory inputs that are happening in our life. Such as the bright lights, computer screen, street noises, background noise, multiple conversations, where you spend your time if it is crowded or not, and so on. All of these factors can cause our senses to eventually feel overwhelmed.
All of this can be fixed and controlled by doing something as simple as closing your eyes for a minute in the middle of the day, as well as intentionally unplugging from electronics at the end of the day, stop scrolling on your phone, setting a screen time per day, or wear earplugs for a block of time in your day.
Intentional moments of sensory deprivation can undo the damage inflicted by the over-stimulating world that we live in.
7- Creative rest
Creative rest is especially important for anyone who has to solve problems, brainstorm new ideas, or work in a creative environment. Creative rest is the one that awakens something in you. Is the one that reawakens the awe and wonders inside each of us. Allowing yourself to take in the beauty in all of its forms (outdoors, nature, art, etc.) provide you with creative rest.
Every type of rest has its passive and active practices, now it’s up to you to choose the ones that work best for you to get you rested and restored. Don’t forget that, as we’ve seen, sleep alone won’t restore you to the point you feel rested and rejuvenated. So now it’s your time to begin focusing on getting the right type of rest that you need.