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The 7 Types of Rest: Embracing the Power of Pause

girl standing by lake, lake with mountain view

Endless meetings, relational conflicts, inner struggles… the onslaught of life seems relentless at times.

It’s tempting to see how far you can push yourself. After all, you have deadlines to meet. Your honey-do list is growing by the day, and the dog isn’t going to feed himself.

Culture also glorifies this phenomenon called “hustle-culture” --- the idea that you “rise and grind” until you reach your goals. In some circles, it’s still considered the gold standard for work and life.

But as leaders in many industries are realizing, personal and professional burnout is on the rise (9).

Taking the time to pause and rest might make you uncomfortable at first, but there are serious consequences for those who don’t. Take sleeping, for example. A basic human need, but many people burn the midnight candle trying to finish up a few more tasks.

Research shows those who habitually get very little sleep become more at risk (1) for:

  • Hypertension

  • Depression

  • Kidney disease

  • Diabetes

  • Strokes

  • Heart disease

Today’s technology also creates a stream of mental stimulation that can make it hard for your brain to shut off. But moments of inactivity are important. Some studies report your brain uses glucose to help you maintain self-control (2). If you don’t give your brain a break, it can’t replenish these resources. This can lead to outbursts, emotional imbalances, and increased stress.

Benefits of Rest

Your brain is an incredible organ. During times of active engagement, it uses energy to focus and learn. However, during times of rest, you allow your brain to disengage. This helps it to be better able to process information, remove data, and reboot systems. And the result? Increased overall productivity, according to research (3).

Ever heard of the Pomodoro method (4)? This technique breaks large workloads up into smaller, more manageable increments of time. Practicing this has also helped you get more done in less time.

So, there are benefits to rest. Your brain needs it, your body needs it. But your soul, emotions, and spirit need it, too.

Understanding the 7 types of rest can be the first step towards better health. Each of these areas deserves equal attention in your life. With a little guidance, you’ll be able to recognize areas that need attention, find ways to actively rest, and enjoy better health.

Mental Rest

Whether you’re a student studying for a test or the CEO mapping out next year’s business goals, you’ve got a lot going on up there. Your brain uses a lot of energy to plan, create, remember, and manage. But operating at such a high level all the time can leave you drained, bogged down, and overwhelmed. If you find yourself in that place, mental rest is highly recommended.

How do you do this? Try taking short breaks throughout the day. This allows your brain to disengage for a bit (remember that from earlier?). Step away from your computer or smartphone and go into a different room altogether. Look around, stretch, and take a few breaths.

Social Rest

“I feel awkward in large crowds” is typical among introverts. If you’re an extrovert, however, you thrive when surrounded by others. Then there are ambiverts, who are a little bit of both.

Regardless of where you find yourself, occasionally you’ll find yourself in need of a little “me time”. That’s where social rest comes into play, and it’s perfectly acceptable to embrace it (5).

Saying no to events, going on solitary trips, and learning to be fully present can give you new perspectives and fresh insights on things you never thought of before.

man wearing hat standing alone, peaceful, rest

Creative Rest

Any lack of inspiration can be frustrating if you work in the creative industry. This is especially unsettling if work deadlines are fast approaching.

So how do you experience creative rest? Grab a change of scenery. Nature always offers us lessons if we’re willing to look for them (6). You can also gather ideas from other creatives by strolling a local museum. Painting, dancing, and listening to music can also generate ideas.

Spiritual Rest

Part of a holistic perspective acknowledges humans as spiritual beings. And running on empty for too long can leave you feeling disconnected, lost, and questioning your purpose.

Learning to pause, reflect, and ultimately abide in Love will bring spiritual rest to your weary soul (8). You’re created by a God who loves you and wants a relationship with you through his Son Jesus. He brings the ultimate sense of purpose, fulfillment, security, and satisfaction that can’t be found anywhere else.

Joining communities of uplifting, faith-based communities can also bring refreshment and encouragement when you’re feeling spiritually parched.

Emotional Rest

Stressful times will bring out the worst or the best of you. Increasing demands in your personal life may leave you feeling irritated, frustrated, underappreciated, and unable to cope.

One way to get more emotional rest is by setting clear boundaries. Taking the time to weigh your options before committing to something, expressing your true feelings to trusted companions, and getting help dealing with difficult emotions can bring order to a chaotic emotional state.

Sensory Rest

The sound of someone loudly smacking their gum, the itchy feeling of your new sweater, your smartphone notifications dinging left and right, and your screaming toddler yanking your pants. It’s enough to make you explode from overstimulation.

How do you achieve sensory rest? One way is to silence your phone during working hours. Noise-canceling headphones can help you concentrate in an outdoor setting and practicing meditation can help you block out the noise. Ever heard of a sensory deprivation tank? This innovative therapy is designed to facilitate full-body relaxation and can be found in many spa settings (7).

Physical Rest

A more obvious one but no less important. If you habitually push your body to the limit, it will eventually push back. Feeling tired, sick, or achy are good indicators you need to slow down.

But physical rest can have two variations: active and passive. Passive physical rest is what happens when you sleep. This could include taking a nap. Active physical rest is any activity that improves your physical well-being. This can include stretching or light exercise, like walking or foam rolling.

The best way to get more physical rest is to take breaks. Make time for quality sleep too, between 7-9 hours if you can. Adding a few gentle exercises like massage and visiting whole-body health professionals like chiropractors or massage therapists can make leave you feeling lighter and more aligned.

Back To You

Stress is all around us, and while we like to think we’re invincible, humans are delicate and need a lot of care.

Not taking time to pause will eventually lead to disaster. Making yourself a priority and embracing these 7 types of rest can help you let go of unnecessary burdens, bring you new perspectives, and help you enjoy life more.

Start small and try to enjoy the process. Make rest part of your daily health goals --- you’ll be glad you did.


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