According to the Oxford Dictionary, rest is defined as: “to cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep or recover strength”. This definition shows us that rest and sleep are two different things. This can explain why you sometimes feel absolutely exhausted at the end of a day, no matter how much sleep you got the night before. Our culture has conditioned us to become high-functioning, high-achieving and high-producing individuals, which often leaves no time for rest and leads to burnout. 

Saundra Dalton-Smith (MD) is a physician, researcher and author of: “Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity.” There are 7 different areas of rest that all need equal attention, according to Saundra and her research:

Physical rest (Active and Passive):

Active physical rest involve activities you can do that help you relax after a long day such as getting a massage, stretching, or going to a yoga class. There are certain signs to look out for if you need more active physical rest such as bodily aches and pains or spasms. Passive physical rest is the physical rest we all know, sleeping! The biggest sign that you need more passive physical rest is feeling sleepy and lethargic.

Mental rest:

Mental rest is important to help you mind ‘switch off’. This can include taking breaks during your workday or while you are studying or keeping a notepad next to your bed and writing down thoughts that keep you awake. If you struggle to fall asleep at night because your mind is running a thousand kilometers an hour or you are finding it hard to concentrate and retain information, you might be in a mental rest deficit.

Sensory rest:

Your senses can become overwhelmed quickly and easily by too much background noise, computer screens or too many conversations happening at once. Learning to counteract this through intentional sensory deprivation will make a huge difference. Try closing your eyes in the middle of the day for a few minutes or unplugging electronics at the end of each day. If you are struggling with irritation, rage or agitation, you might be experiencing sensory overload syndrome.

Creative rest:

If you need to come up with new ideas, brainstorm or problem solve in your daily life, creative rest should be a priority. Allowing yourself to go for a short walk outside and taking in nature is one of the best ways to achieve creative rest. If you are having a hard time being innovative or problem-solving, creative rest is what you need.

Emotional rest:

You need to be able to express yourself freely and without judgement. Often times we want to people please, which depletes our emotional reserves. If you feel like you always need to keep your emotions in check and can never truly express yourself, then you are not getting enough emotional rest. Find a safe space and safe people where you can be yourself and express yourself and your feelings openly.

Social rest:

Think about all your relationships, do you feel like you are the one who is always pouring out into others, or do you spend your free time with people who just want to enjoy your company? The answer to this question will determine if you need more social rest. We get the most social rest from spending time with life-giving, positive, and supportive people.

Spiritual rest:

Pouring back into faith-based culture, getting involved and giving back to your community or engaging in something where you feel like what you are doing really matters are all ways of getting spiritual rest. Add prayer, meditation or more involvement into your daily routine. If you feel like what you do has no impact or does not matter, you need make time for more spiritual rest.

Sleep alone is not enough to restore us as there are many realms of ourselves that need to feel rested. Set aside some time each day to focus on getting the type of rest you need.