It is no secret that sleep is required to recover and recharge each day; however, many people still express being exhausted even when managing to get the appropriate amount of sleep. This is likely a result of our hustle-and-grind culture, especially for Black and People of Color in New York City. Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a board-certified internal medicine physician and researcher, indicated that sleep cannot be the only type of rest, especially in such a faced paced environment. She identified seven types of rest in varying areas of our lives that, if tended to, will begin to allow for true recuperation. Here you will find out the seven types and how we are impacted when we do not tend to each area.
1. Physical Rest.
There is an active component of physical rest, which includes activities to help with flexibility and improve the body’s circulation. Yoga, massage therapy, stretching, foam rolling, and even adjusting the ergonomics of your work station are considered active ways to receive physical rest. The passive component, however, is what we typically think of when resting, high-quality sleep and napping. When physical rest is ignored, fatigue, body aches and pains, tension, and irritability are more likely to occur.
2. Mental Rest
Mental rest is taking a break from the processing, decision making, and information holding that we engage in on a daily basis. When there is a lack, memory recall is interrupted, such as forgetting why you are entering a room, what your next task is, or forgetting what you went to the grocery store for. At work, you are more likely to be irritable and have a difficult time focusing. You may also find yourself struggling to quiet racing thoughts as wind down for the day and go to bed.
Mental rest can be achieved by scheduling a break every few hours throughout your day to slow down and disconnect from your current task. It can also be achieved by writing down any thoughts about the day on a notepad or journal before heading to bed.
3. Spiritual Rest
Spiritual rest is the ability to connect to a sense of purpose and belonging. This type varies based on your personal belief system, but at its core relates to our efforts to contribute to something larger than ourselves. Those who are in a spiritual rest deficit may be going through the motions of their day-to-day life feeling lost or like their life is missing a purpose. To receive spiritual rest, you can engage with your community, pray, or meditate
4. Emotional Rest
Emotional rest comes from freely showing up authentically and sharing your experiences with others. When emotional rest is lacking, you may find yourself suppressing your feelings for the sake of others and engaging in people-pleasing behaviors. You may feel you have to “keep it together” or be the “strong friend” and keep your thoughts to yourself. Emotional rest works hand in hand with Social Rest. To engage in it, it takes courage from you to be true to yourself and others, especially as it relates to your feelings.
5. Social Rest
Social Rest is the feeling you experience when you surround yourself with people who pour life into you. These are relationships that fill you up rather than drain you. Someone who neglects this type of rest may feel unappreciated or resentful of the energy given to their relationships because they are giving to others without taking note of what they are receiving from these relationships as well. To prioritize social rest, consider the different relationships in your life and ask yourself if they are supportive, meaningful, positive. Identify what role you are playing in these relationships that are not supportive and begin to explore what is draining about them.
6) Sensory Rest
With the wealth of knowledge, connections, and entertainment accessible by our cell phones, it is safe to say it can be difficult to separate from constant sensory stimulation in any area of our lives. Sensory rest is just that, though. Taking a break from sensory stimuli to reduce daily overwhelm. This can be done by closing your eyes in the middle of the day, delaying your interaction with electronics in the morning, or unplugging a few hours before going to bed. Disconnecting can also look like setting screen time limits on any of your devices. If sensory rest is neglected, by the end of each day, you are more likely to be fatigued or on edge due to sensory overload.
7) Creative Rest
This type of rest is experienced when you are able to appreciate the beauty in the world and engage in wonder and awe. Creative rest is particularly important for people who have to brainstorm new ideas and problem-solve regularly. Similarly, you can tell if there is a deficit in this area of rest if you find difficulty with innovation of any sort fairly often. Cultivating creative rest can look like going out in nature or creating calming and inviting spaces at home and work. This can include any type of music, art, or movement.
All seven types of rest target different areas of our lives, areas that many of us struggle to prioritize. It can be overwhelming to incorporate all areas of rest at once. Try starting with the area that you feel the most exhausted in and make small adjustments. These need to be changes you can engage in regularly without many limitations. To identify which area you need the most restoration in, begin to ask yourself, “What kind of tired am I today?” Does what I am experiencing fall into any of these categories?”
If you are struggling with how to incorporate the different types of rest into your everyday life, you may reach out to a mental health professional for support and work together to incorporate rest into your self-care routine. For more information regarding the 7 types of rest, you can follow Dr. Dalton-Smith’s research or read her book, Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity.
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