Rest. We all need it, but did you know there are 7 Ways to Rest, for a better quality of life and to bring balance to the mind body and spirit? Rest is a state of relaxation where you reduce your stress levels, so you come out of your fight-or-flight state long enough to enjoy life. We all know that stress kills, and by relaxing we increase our chances of avoiding stress-related diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure and certain cancers.
Scientists have identified 7 types of rest, physical, mental, emotional, sensory, creative, social, and spiritual. As humans, we need all 7 for overall wellness. Each type of rest serves a different element of the human experience to bring balance and joy to our sometimes hard and unbalanced world.
By understanding the different types of rest, we can identify areas of our lives that we need to focus on, and we can organise and prioritise our self-care accordingly.
1. Physical rest
Physical rest gives our bodies time to repair and recover, avoid injuries, and reduce the feeling of tiredness. It can be broken down into two, active rest, and inactive rest.
2a. Active rest
Examples of active rest is doing light exercises like yoga, massage, and going for a gentle walk. It’s about undertaking a physical activity that is gentle, but once complete leaves the body feeling rested and rebalanced.
2b. Inactive rest
Inactive rest is exactly that, doing very little physically. This includes things like taking a nap, Netflix and chilling, a long soak in the bath, and just relaxing with little to no movement.
2. Mental Rest
Mental rest is one of the hardest to do successfully, it is about taking a break from continuous mental stimulation. This is particularly hard when you are a parent or caregiver, and your internal monologue is constantly on. There are a few activities you can do to reduce mental stimulation and they include not using your phone, meditation and breath work, all resulting in the quietening of the mind.
3. Emotional rest
Emotional rest means taking a break from emotionally demanding situations in your daily life. If someone or something is causing you emotional distress, it is important to take time away from that person or thing. This means setting boundaries for yourself and them, so that you can have time to process your emotions. Emotional rest can be talking to a friend, journaling, or therapy with a professional. There is a lot of guilt attached to taking emotional breaks, but we need time and space to process our big feelings, so practice setting aside your guilt and prioritising your needs.
Examples of emotional rest:
- Spending time alone
- Self-care rituals
- Setting boundaries
4. Sensory Rest
Sensory overload is when one or all five senses take in more information than your brain can process. Overwhelmed by all the input, the brain responds as it would to a life-threatening situation and enters fight, flight, or freeze mode. As working women, mothers and community caregivers, we often experience feelings of sensory overload, I know that as a stay-at-home mum, I often feel overwhelmed when my kids are sick and are especially clingy. You, are probably self-soothing by watching reruns of Fraiser for the 100th time, because you know what’s going to happen and you can unwind, or you stay up late at night to eat snacks and drink wine. Sensory rest is about shutting down external stimulation, putting the phone down, turning off the TV, hiding from the kids for 5 minutes to give your senses respite.
5. Social rest
Introverts stand up! Being outside can be exhausting and we sometimes need a little break from socialising. As the festive season approaches there is a lot of mixing and it can be draining. Likened to the overstimulation associated with sensory rest, social rest is about taking a break from being outside. It’s about spending time away from social gatherings, and instead spending time alone to realign and build up more socialising energy. There is much joy and discovery in spending time alone, and that is exactly what social rest advocates for.
6. Creative Rest:
It is not exactly as it sounds; creative rest is about embarking on creative activities that stimulate and excite us. It is designed to bring balance to overwork and the demands of paid employment. By being unbridled in our creativity, we allow our minds to wonder and tap into dopamine, which relaxes and soothes us. The best part is it doesn’t have to be good, as long as you are doing something that requires you to use the left side of your brain you’ll reap the benefits. No matter what you embark on, have fun, learn, and allow yourself to get excited about something.
- Creative hobbies like
- Drawing/ painting
- Web design
7. Spiritual rest
Spiritual rest relates to the very human yearning for community. A lack of connection often manifests in the feeling that our lives lack meaning and purpose. Getting involved in community, prayer and meditation are all avenues to greater connection. It doesn’t have to be religious or belong to a denomination, it’s about connecting with your spirit and finding the beauty of lays inside of you.
- Ancestral homage
- Bible studies
- Volunteering for a cause that you care about
One of the biggest challenges of modern living is finding the time to honour our needs around the 7 kinds of rest. Here are 5 ways you can make it easier to do nothing in a world that is determined to keep you constantly engaged.
- Prioritise Rest – Schedule it in your lifestyle like other aspects of your life.
- Be intentional – Being intentional means you listen to your body, mind and spirit and choose the type you need to soothe you.
- Make it a habit: Plan your rest activities or non-activities on a 30-day rotation. Within 3 months it will become more a lifestyle than a choice.
- Have fun experimenting: Rest is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, play around with different types of activities to find the one that most suits you and your wellness needs.
And there you have it, the 7 Ways to Rest and how you can incorporate them into your life.
Until next time, stay well rested and remember to always…