The 7 Types of Rest: Are You Getting Enough?

Oftentimes, we think that vegging out watching Netflix or scrolling social media is restful, but in reality, there is so much more to rest. Have you ever spent time doing either of those things or sleeping through the night only to find yourself more exhausted? If so, you may just be lacking rest in other areas of your life.

The hustle culture that we live in has glorified productivity and being exhausted like it’s a badge of honor while making rest an afterthought. Being well rested is crucial for our overall health and wellness. Resting from a holistic perspective – body, mind, and spirit – can help you to feel awake, centered, grounded, and ready for whatever life brings your way.  

Let’s take a look at the seven types of rest:

Physical Rest

Physical rest can be divided into passive and active rest. Passive physical rest includes sleeping or napping while active physical rest includes activities like stretching, getting a massage, and using a foam roller. Aches, pains, swelling, and exhaustion are big indicators that you have a physical rest deficit. You may want to try cutting out electronics before bed and creating an optimal sleep environment to promote more restful sleep, as well as going to bed 30 minutes earlier. Changing up your workout routine and getting some restorative stretching in would be beneficial as well.

Mental Rest

In such a fast-paced world that constantly requires critical thinking, reasoning, decision making, remembering things, and processing an abundance of information, it’s easy to experience mental fatigue. This can impair our cognitive function and productivity, as well as our physical performance. Mental rest is turning off the constant chatter and allowing your brain to slow down and process information while making connections and creating memories.

If you struggle to focus and remember things, feel like your brain is mush and find it difficult to comprehend simple information, or feel like your mind is constantly racing then I suggest taking some time to rejuvenate your mind and give it a break. Some great ways to get mental rest include meditation, breathwork, prioritizing your day and chunking your time, letting go of perfection, and simplifying your day-to-day life by eliminating the things that aren’t necessary and are taking up mental space.

Social Rest

Most of us spend our days with people who pull from our social energy. This doesn’t mean that they are bad or negative per se, but they require us to constantly pour into them, which can be very draining. Social rest comes from spending time with those who you can enjoy one another’s company and come away feeling fuller than you started. If you find yourself lacking engagement and connection with others, isolating yourself from others, feeling alone in the world, or feeling drained by the people in your life you likely need some social rest. If this is you, be intentional about spending time with people that you can be your authentic self around and who revive you. A great place to start would be to call an old friend, spend quality time with a loved one, or say no to something you don’t really want to do.

Spiritual Rest

Spiritual rest varies depending on one’s belief system, but essentially revolves around our sense of purpose and giving back to humanity. Our spirituality gives us meaning in our everyday lives. It is also closely linked to our physical and mental health.  Some signs that you need spiritual rest are feeling the need to strive for wholeness, feeling hopeless, lacking motivation for life, feeling far from God, and lacking any sense of accomplishment or satisfaction. You can get spiritual rest through prayer, meditating on scripture, going to church, listening to worship music, learning more about spiritual disciplines, and spending time in nature.

Sensory Rest

With all of the hustle and bustle and constant input in our lives (everything from the news to social media to lights from electronics to fragrances to touch from kiddos to email notifications, etc.) it’s no wonder that many of us are overstimulated. Most people with a sensory rest deficit often find themselves getting the day off to a good start and then by the end of the day they’re DONE. If you often find yourself irritable, agitated, or zoned out you may just need some sensory rest.

Spending time in nature is a great way to do this as nature is the optimal sensory environment. You can also help regulate your nervous system by getting some movement in, which will help your body to better process all of the sensory input from your environment. You may also want to try unplugging periodically, dimming the light on your screens, using essential oils, using noise cancelling earphones, listening to your favorite music, eating something that tastes divine, or soaking in the tub.

Emotional Rest

It’s easy to experience emotional fatigue in a world that is constantly taking us on an emotional rollercoaster. Many of us are carrying around emotions that are weighing us down and ultimately causing anxiety and depression. Our emotions are connected to our choices and behaviors, so when our emotions are healthy, we are better able to make sound, thoughtful decisions. On the other hand, when our emotions are out of control, we are more likely to react rather than respond thoughtfully.

You may need emotional rest if you find yourself easily irritated with your loved ones, feeling numb and disconnected, feeling self-doubt and insecurity often, overwhelmed with worry and anxiety, or you are easily distracted and have difficulty remembering things. You can experience emotional rest by processing your past hurts and trauma, identifying stressors and trying to eliminate or modify them, journaling, prioritizing and delegating responsibilities, letting go of people pleasing behaviors, talking to a mental health professional, and using healthy stress management techniques.

Creative Rest

Creativity is much more than just art. It is also brainstorming, problem solving, planning, any type of innovation, as well as experiencing the awe and wonder around you. Creative rest is the process of letting the beauty around you restore your soul. It helps to feed our imaginations, fuels gratitude, helps us find joy, and fills us with hope. While it can include productivity, such as painting, writing, or cooking, it definitely does not have to. It can be as simple as taking a stroll through the woods, listening to music or a podcast, reading a book, or doing things that brought you joy as a child.  

While most of us need seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night, there is no scientific answer for how much rest we need in the other six areas. You know your body best, so I would suggest taking some time to evaluate where you may be struggling most and start there. While you likely need some form of each type of rest throughout the week, making small, simple changes can get you started on the right path. Taking time to be intentional with rest can prevent your body from forcing you to rest later.

You may also be interested in:

10 Self-Care Practices to Stay Grounded in the Chaos
7 Ways to Support Your God Given Immune System
The Roots of Rooted