If you’re constantly exhausted, you may not be getting the right kind of rest
In our constantly evolving and ever-moving world, we are often overwhelmed with information overload, too much to do, and not enough time to put down our phones and connect with ourselves. Self-care is a privilege that many people can’t afford or are not 100% aware of how to achieve. That’s because influencers and mainstream media have gotten us to believe that self-care is all manicures, facials, and lavish vacations when really what we need is rest.
Sleep and rest are not the same things, even though many of us confuse the two. A common scenario that many people feel (including myself) is sleeping eight hours a night and waking up feeling absolutely exhausted. That is because even though you are sleeping you are not resting. Your mind and body are asking for two very different things, or rather, seven very different things.
There are seven types of rest that every person needs and without those different types of rest, you may find yourself feeling absolutely exhausted despite feeling like you have been taking time out of your day to care for yourself. Many people are aware of the first type of rest, physical rest, which includes sleeping or napping as well as different types of active rest like stretching, yoga, and massage. However, physical rest is only the first step to feeling better in your body and mind; and though physical rest may be the easiest to achieve, if you are not getting the other six types of rest you may find yourself still feeling pretty damn un-rested.
The second type of rest is mental rest. Mental rest is more difficult than physical rest, especially if you are the type of person who is constantly on the move, working hard, and striving for more. Mental rest often slips by because even in the moments when you may feel like you are resting, scrolling on Instagram, and having a cup of coffee, that is not mental rest. In order to achieve mental rest, you need to give your thinking mind a break. This can mean scheduling time away from your phone or taking short breaks during the day to give your thinking mind a break.
Here are some ways to achieve mental rest:
- Give yourself permission to relax and take breaks; internalized capitalism is real and the idea that if you are doing less you are not as worthy is embedded in so many of us. Give yourself permission to do less or to do nothing at all.
- Meditate. Even a five-minute sit can do wonders for your mind, take five to ten minutes out of your day to simply sit, shut your eyes, and do nothing.
- Breathing. Breathing techniques help to calm us and some smartwatches even have breathing prompts built in to help you relax. Do some deep breathing for one to five minutes a day or schedule a one-minute, deep breathing session each hour just to get you to calm down a little bit and focus inward. Think of it as a mini-meditation.
- Reduce sensory input — don’t go on your phone, television, computer, or play video games while trying to achieve mental rest. Schedule time away from screens and away from doing in order to relax your mind.
The third type of rest we need is sensory rest. As I mentioned above, in order to achieve mental rest you may need to reduce your sensory input. That is because we are constantly overloading our minds and bodies with different types of sensory input that cause us major sensory strain. Zoom meetings, Instagram, Facebook, bright lights, and computer screens are all things that impact our bodies, minds, and mental health. All of these things can cause us to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
In order to achieve sensory rest, you need to disconnect. This can be as simple as unplugging for an hour to take a walk or shutting off your electronics at a certain time every day to make sure to give your mind intentional moments of sensory deprivation. One way that I achieve sensory rest is paddle boarding. I don’t take my phone out on the water, I simply paddle away and take moments to stop and breath, dip my toes and body in the water, and actually allow myself to relax.
The fourth type of rest we need is creative rest. According to Ted, “This type of rest is especially important for anyone who must solve problems or brainstorm new ideas. Creative rest reawakens the awe and wonder inside each of us.” Ideas for creative rest can be as simple as going outside and appreciating the outdoors, however, creative rest is not simply going outside. You may also need other forms of creative rest such as taking time to doodle, draw, or turn your workspace into an artspace. Take time to create for joy rather than for work.
The fifth type of rest is emotional rest, which means taking time away from people-pleasing and making sure that everybody else is well-rested, happy, and relaxed. For many people, taking care of others is second nature, however, those people are often not taken care of themselves or taking time to take care of themselves (I’m looking at you moms, wives, and self-proclaimed empaths). Emotional rest requires authenticity and honesty, you need to be able to understand your own needs and desires and take time to achieve the rest that you need and deserve.
The sixth type of rest is social rest which is often combined with emotional rest. Because people who need emotional rest often spend their time taking care of others, they may also be in need of social rest. According to Ted, people who need social rest often “Fail to differentiate between those relationships that revive us from those relationships that exhaust us.” In order to achieve social rest be sure to surround yourself with positive people who give more than they take. Rid yourself of toxic influences and immerse yourself in supportive friendships and relationships.
The final type of rest is spiritual rest. In order to achieve spiritual rest, you need to engage in something bigger than yourself such as religion, prayer, meditation, or even community engagement. Spiritual rest doesn’t just mean “go to church” — many of us are not religious (hello, fellow atheists), it means doing something that benefits your spirit. For me, connecting with the outdoors is spiritual rest.
Understanding your different needs and the different types of rest that every person needs to achieve physical and mental wellness can be difficult in a world that requires us to be constantly moving. However, understand these seven types of rest my help you get on your way to feeling more mentally and physically sound.
It’s time for us to begin to focus on the kind of rest that we need.
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