What You Need To Know About The 7 Types Of Rest
What You Need To Know About The 7 Types Of Rest

What You Need To Know About The 7 Types Of Rest

If you often wake up exhausted, even after eight hours of sleep, the issue might be the type of rest you’re getting. According to the experts, there are seven types – and if you burn the candle at both ends or are going through a stressful time, it’s probably worth finding out which one you really need. Here, a counsellor, a psychologist and a wellbeing expert explain all…
By Tor West

We All Need Different Types Of Rest

“Rest is personal, and we all need different forms at different times. If you suspect you need to recharge your batteries, check in with yourself. Are you feeling disconnected? Have you been emotionally drained by recent events? Have you been on the go non-stop? Remember rest doesn’t discriminate – it’s something we all need to thrive and feel good. If you are prone to perfectionism, recognise when it seeps in. Does it come up in the middle of a busy week? Or perhaps when you feel like you have nothing to do? Learn to recognise your feelings.” – Sophie O’Kelly, integrative therapeutic counsellor at Self Space.

Being Rested Will Build Resilience

“When we are fully rested, we are also at our most productive. When you’re constantly busy, you might feel like you’re getting a lot done, but the reality is you can’t give your best when you are depleted. Real productivity requires focus and concentration – you can’t pour from an empty cup. Likewise, when we are fully rested, we are also likely to be more emotionally stable. When we are tired and unbalanced, we are more vulnerable to experiencing negative emotions.” – Dr Elena Touroni, consultant psychologist & co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.

When you’re constantly BUSY, you might feel like you’re getting a lot done, but the REALITY is you can’t give your best when you are DEPLETED.

It’s Important To Be Patient

“Many of us believe it’s good to be productive, but without rest, resentment, frustration and feelings of inadequacy will creep in. If you only allow yourself to rest after overworking and overachieving, you might find yourself struggling to sleep, being overly critical and feeling irritable and impatient with colleagues and loved ones.” – Sophie

Some Of Us Need It More Than Others

“Burnout can happen to anyone. It’s the result of giving out more than we are taking for ourselves. If this balance falls out of whack, over time you’ll find your psychological and physical resources simply burn out. Perfectionists can be vulnerable to experiencing burnout as they tend to push themselves beyond their limits, as well as mums who are trying to juggle multiple responsibilities and putting everyone else’s needs before their own. Likewise, being anxious for an extended period can leave the body stuck in fight or flight, which can also lead to burnout.” – Elena

Therapy can help UNTANGLE tricky thoughts and encourage everyday mental maintenance, so you can COPE better when CHALLENGES hit.

The Seven Types Of Rest Explained

1. Physical Rest

Physical rest is exactly how it sounds. “When you’re physically exhausted, even small movements like a morning stretch can feel like an effort,” Sophie explains. “A lack of physical rest can leave muscles feeling achy, and you may experience headaches, eye strain and a faster heart rate.” For Natasha Richardson, medical herbalist and founder of Forage Botanicals, it can also manifest as irregular periods and sugar and coffee cravings. The experts also explain there are two components to physical rest. Passive rest includes sleeping and napping, whereas active rest includes things like yoga, stretching, using a foam roller or getting a massage.

What To Do: “Breathwork is a powerful tool to help the nervous system decompress,” Sophie says. “If it helps, place one hand on your heart and the other on your tummy to become conscious of the breath flowing in and out of your body. Stretching, yoga or going for a walk (without your phone) in a green space can also provide a restful break.”

2. Mental Rest

“It’s hard to deny a tired mind,” Sophie continues. “We can become irritable and frustrated, and cynicism can crop up. Simple tasks can feel like an ordeal, and the numbing effects of Netflix and a glass of wine can become addictive. You might find concentrating hard, and the things you used to enjoy suddenly feel like a chore.” 

What To Do: Start by reducing screen time, says Sophie, as constantly scrolling on social media can leave the mind feeling cluttered. “Leave a voice note to a trusted friend, or better, pick up the phone. Move your body and cook yourself your favourite meal.” Sophie also adds that clarity can elude us when we’re mentally overwhelmed. “If your challenging thoughts confuse you, a good conversation with a professional listener can help. Therapy can help untangle tricky thoughts and feelings and encourage everyday mental maintenance, so you can cope better when challenges hit.”

3. Sensory Rest

“If you find sounds jarring, this is often the first sign you need sensory rest,” Natasha continues. “You may also find certain textures and light levels bother you, especially when looking at a screen all day.” But it doesn’t all come down to tech, says Sophie. “Sensory exhaustion can also come from other humans, fragrances and crowded spaces. If you’ve ever walked into a ‘loud’ space, you may be familiar with sensory overload.”

What To Do: “We’re nearly always using at least one of our senses, so tuning out can help settle the nervous system,” advises Sophie. “Start by dimming the lights, turning your phone to dark mode and opting for natural over artificial light, and get used to sitting in silence, without TV, music or a podcast. It can also be helpful to cut back on different scents. A gorgeous candle may be lovely, but sometimes the scent of nature is the most healing. Smell the rain when it comes, and stroll through the grass.” If you become overwhelmed during the working day, Natasha recommends listening to white noise and using ear plugs. “If you can, working from home once a week can also help give you headspace.”

4. Creative Rest

This type of rest is especially important for anyone who problem solves on a daily basis, or who needs to be constantly brainstorming new ideas. “The first symptom of creative burnout is a lack of inspiration,” Natasha continues. “When you’re feeling this way, time out is essential to get you firing on all cylinders again.”

What To Do: “If ‘busy’ is your default state and productivity your kryptonite, it may come as a surprise to hear that creating and making something purely for pleasure is an incredible way to reset,” says Sophie. “If you’re constantly in survival mode, running from one task to another, get in touch with your inner child and make something for the sake of it. If drawing and painting aren’t your thing, try photography, cooking, needlework, or a course you’ve always wanted to try.” And if you’re interested in Ayurveda, Natasha recommends eating more hot, spicy food, which – according to the ancient Indian way of life – will fire you up spiritually and emotionally. 

5. Emotional Rest

If you find yourself focusing on your flaws and you feel like failure is inevitable, you may be in need of a dose of emotional rest, says Sophie. “When we’re emotionally exhausted, we can feel more sensitive, and you may even find yourself saying sorry, even when you have no idea what you’re sorry for.”

What To Do: “Your sense of identity isn't tied to what other people think of you, but it can certainly feel like it is sometimes,” says Sophie. “When you're emotionally exhausted, check in with yourself. What's going on for you, and what do you need today? If you're struggling, try to clear your calendar and turn to your support network. A good conversation with a great listener will help you feel seen and heard — a good therapist can help with that.”

6. Social Rest

If you find social interaction exhausting, you’re not alone. “After the pandemic, being social may feel like a luxury – like you’re a butterfly emerging from your cocoon,” says Sophie. “But you may also be feeling the effects of draining social interactions. Upholding surface-level conversations and talking about things you don't really care about can leave you feeling disconnected and empty. To recharge your social batteries, surround yourself with people you can be honest with, people you feel like yourself around.”

What To Do: Learning how to say no is an important first step. “Connecting with someone a bit older or outside of your usual network can help you see things from a different perspective,” advises Sophie. “If you're a new mum or someone in a new job, chat to someone in the same boat as you to find a shared sense of empathy.”

7. Spiritual Rest

If you don’t feel like what you do has purpose – whether it’s your job, studies or something else – you will experience burnout. “We all have a need to feel like we belong and that we are contributing,” Sophie adds. “If you constantly veer towards existential questions, seeking out a sense of belonging, acceptance and purpose can help.”

What To Do: It’s simpler than you think, Sophie continues. “A regular morning routine is a great place to start. Rather than jumping into action, if you can, wake a little earlier and set aside time to journal, read and set an intention for the day. Affirmations can encourage optimism, and journaling can declutter your mind. A spiritual practice like yoga can help you feel more grounded and give you an opportunity to connect with other people with a similar goal. Reflecting on your family tree, your cultural upbringing and where you find yourself now can invite curiosity and a sense of helpful self-awareness, too.”

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