Sleep and rest are not the same thing, although many of us incorrectly confuse the two.
We go through life thinking we’ve rested because we have gotten enough sleep — but in reality we are missing out on the other types of rest we desperately need. The result is a culture of high-achieving, high-producing, chronically tired and chronically burned-out individuals.
Rest should equal restoration in seven key areas of your life.
Physical rest; this can be passive or active. Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping, while active physical rest means restorative activities such as yoga, stretching and massage therapy that help improve the body’s circulation and flexibility.
Mental rest; Schedule short breaks to occur every two hours throughout your day so you can switch off and wind down from thinking about work or tasks yous need to do during the day; these breaks can remind you to slow down. You might also keep a notepad by the bed to jot down any nagging thoughts that would keep you awake.
Sensory rest; Bright lights, computer screens, background noise and multiple conversations — whether they’re in an office or on Zoom calls — can cause our senses to feel overwhelmed. This can be countered by doing something as simple as closing your eyes for a minute in the middle of the day, as well as by intentionally unplugging from electronics at the end of every day. Intentional moments of sensory deprivation can begin to undo the damage inflicted by the over-stimulating world. Make a space in your home where you have things that soothe and calm your senses, this might include a scented candle, your favourite cushions/blanket, aromatherapy diffuser, relaxing music (sounds of the ocean or rainfall), a comfortable chair and dimmable/soft lighting.
Creative rest; This type of rest is especially important for anyone who must solve problems or brainstorm new ideas. Creative rest reawakens the awe and wonder inside each of us. Do you recall the first time you saw the ocean or a waterfall? Allowing yourself to take in the beauty of the outdoors — even if it’s at a local park or in your backyard — provides you with creative rest. But creative rest isn’t simply about appreciating nature; it also includes enjoying the arts. Take a trip to an art gallery, or immerse yourself in street art. You can also turn your workspace into a place of inspiration by displaying images of places you love and works of art that speak to you. You can’t spend 40 hours a week staring at blank or jumbled surroundings and expect to feel passionate about anything, much less come up with innovative ideas.
Emotional rest; means having the time and space to freely express your feelings and cut back on putting other peoples needs before your own. Emotional rest also requires the courage to be authentic. An emotionally rested person can answer the question “How are you today?” with a truthful “I’m not okay” — and then go on to share some hard things that otherwise go unsaid.
Social rest; This occurs when we fail to differentiate between those relationships that revive us from those relationships that exhaust us. To experience more social rest, surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Even if your interactions have to occur virtually, you can choose to engage more fully in them by turning on your camera and focusing on who you’re speaking to.
Spiritual rest; which is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose. To receive this, engage in something greater than yourself and add a practice of gratitude, meditation or community involvement to your daily routine.
- In what area of my life do I need more rest?
- Have I been avoiding rest in fear of feeling unproductive or alone?
- Can I implement a type of rest today somehow?