Imagine a long day after work. How does it look like for you? Is it filled with endless Zoom meetings? Are you burdened with mundane tasks? Does it entail constant communication with colleagues? Are you required to do extra work to fulfill your boss’s requests?
You might chronically feel burnt out and exhausted if you keep this up. You might compensate for all the work you do by sleeping it off for an entire day, but the truth is sleep and rest are different from each other.
In fact, there are seven types of rest we need in order to rejuvenate our bodies and feel well-rested. Following all these aspects could equate to total restoration for our bodies.
Why being well-rested is important
Most workers do not get the prescribed seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Sometimes, even if we get more than nine hours of sleep, we still feel drained. In her TED talk, Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith asserted that rest is the most underused, safe, effective, and chemical-free alternative therapy that’s available to people.
"Rest is not for weaklings. Hollowing out space for rest is work. Finding time for rest is the hands and feet of the promises we long to claim," she said.
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We all need to rest because our brains are not hard-wired to function 24/7. The brain is most productive when it can move between periods of focus and unfocus, according to Betterup.com. During relaxation and rest, the brain can better consolidate memories, work on problem-solving, and crystallize learning.
And just how scientifically important is rest? Studies collated by business insights firm Gitnux show that scientists have observed 20% increase in productivity among people with 7 to 8 hours of sleep. On the flipside, sleeping fewer than 5 hours lowers productivity by 29%.
7 types of rest we need
Dr. Dalton Smith suggested seven types of rest:
Sleeping or napping constitute passive physical rest, while restorative activities such as yoga, massage therapy, and stretching – which improve circulation and flexibility – are part of active physical rest.
Perhaps we’ve all experienced a day where we drink coffee and feel irritated and find it difficult to focus with work. At night, our brains feel active, and we find it challenging to turn off conversations from the day. Despite sleeping for eight hours, we wake up feeling as if we never went to sleep. This is something that Dr. Dalmon Smith calls a “mental rest deficit.” It can be fixed by taking short breaks every two hours in a workday, which can remind us to slow down.
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Background noise, bright lights, computer screens, and multiple conversations – on Zoom meetings or in your office – can overwhelm our senses. According to Dr. Dalton Smith, sensory overload can be countered by doing simple things: closing your eyes for a minute or unplugging from electronics. When you intentionally deprive yourself of sensory overload, it can undo the damage of an overwhelmingly stimulated world.
Have you ever found out it difficult to come up with ideas for a project? You may be needing rest from brainstorming and idea-building. This type of rest is all about reawakening the awe and wonder inside you. Through this, you allow the beauty of the outdoors to provide you with creative rest. Likewise, this type of rest also entails enjoying the arts. You can find images that inspire you as well as works of art that speak to you. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
If you ever find yourself having the tendency to please people too much, you likely need emotional rest. It requires you to freely express your feelings and having the courage to be authentic. Being emotionally rested means you can answer honestly how and what you are feeling at the moment.
If you need emotional rest, you likely need social rest too. This happens when we fail to distinguish relationships that revive us and relationships that drain us. To counter this, surround yourself with supportive and positive people.
Lastly, the last type of rest involves making deep connections to feel a sense of belonging, love, acceptance, and purpose. To do this, engage in something greater than yourself or add meditation, prayer, or community involvement to your routine.
Shifting your mindset so that you can get all the seven types of rest is crucial. Taking care of yourself matters in the long run and it contributes to better health and well-being. Start by practicing the types of rest listed above today.