Rest is a long-term investment in your well-being. Yet, we often treat it like an afterthought- and through no fault of our own!
It takes courage to rest in a capitalist system. This is especially true for children of immigrants, who may learn to associate self-worth with how well we survive a system that devalues our wellbeing.
So, how do we get our power back?
The first step is to revolutionize and expand your understanding of rest. Rest is an expansive, nuanced practice. It fits any lifestyle and goes far beyond sleep alone.
This piece is dedicated to the deep and restorative experience of rest outside of sleep. I invite you to make room for rest and claim your right to truly recharge and prioritize your wellbeing!
Let’s get right into it.
Rest Is More Than Sleep
Many of us associate rest with sleep, and this is not entirely wrong! Lack of restorative rest can often manifest as physical tiredness. Have you ever had what you felt was an optimal level of sleep and still woke up exhausted, unrested, irritable, and overall not at your best?
This is because there is a difference between sleep and rest!
Sleep is a PASSIVE form of rest our bodies engage in involuntarily.
Rest, on the other hand, is something that RESTORES you and replenishes energy. Rest is an ACTIVE process.
Here is something we don't talk about often enough: restorative, active rest is just as important as passive sleep. We need restoration as much as we need sleep.
Rest Should Not Be A Last Resort
Many of us turn to rest as a way to address burnout.
What if we introduce rest not as a last resort, but as an integral part of each day?
Try reflecting on how you can incorporate moments of rest into your day. Making time and space for restorative practices every day prevents us from hitting the bottom of the well, so to speak.
Also remember that rest is in and of itself, a worthwhile pursuit. You and I were not meant to work until we burn out and then work again until the cycle repeats. Our whole selves- physical, mental, emotional, spiritual- have needs that often we only become aware of in the resting seasons of our life
The 7 Types Of Rest
Rest is not only restorative but healing. It also comes in many forms and can involve both pausing activities or engaging in a number of activities that can nourish us.
There are many ways to access rest. Let's explore each one a little further.
Physical rest recharges and repairs the body. Moreover, sleep is not the only source of physical rest...I invite you to consider sleep as the byproduct of rest. We actually need active forms of rest to help us not only restore ourselves and energy but find sweetness and rejuvenation in sleep! If you have ever experienced a deep, restorative sleep after a good workout, you know this to be true :)
Physical rest can involve both physical activity and reducing physical activity. Here are a few examples of physical rest:
- Breating practices
- Stretches and mindful movement
- Getting a massage or using fascia massage balls
- Laying on the ground or leaning with supports and a cushion under the knees
- Taking a bath
Have you thought about how social activities can support your nervous system? Our social energy has a reservoir as well. Social rest can look like connecting with people who ground us and replenish our energy. It can also look like spending time alone or limiting time with others to connect with ourselves again.
Here are a few examples of social rest:
- Spending time with people who ground you and validate you
- Taking a break from socializing and social commitments
- Replying to messages only when you have the capacity
- Practice mindfully listening to others to deepen connection
- Prioritizing face-face interactions
- Connecting with groups online that share similar values, interests or spiritual paths
Prioritizing creative rest can be lead you to seek inspiration or take a break from creating and thinking to divert time and energy to different things. We use creativity lot more than we think. For example, you use creativity when you brainstorm solutions at work, put together plans for a bachelorette party, figuring out a budget friendly trip, meal planning for the week!
Here are a few examples of creative rest:
- Listening to music, reading books, listening to interesting podcasts
- Visiting places that inspire you, ground you, or are connected to fond memories
- Taking a break from creative projects
- Flow between 90 mins-2 hr work period and break in between to follow a rhythm
- Incorporate 'sabbaticals' into life
When we make room for emotional rest, we may wish to talk about our feelings with a willing and compassionate listener or seek spaces and people that feel emotionally safe. Here are a few examples of emotional rest:
- Validating your own feelings (i.e., “I am disappointed and it’s okay to feel this way”)
- Labeling emotions
- Seeking spaces and people that provide comfort, reassurance, and a sense of emotional safety
- Putting a stop to comparisons and honouring YOU authenticity, listing your strengths and what you loveabout yourself
- Practicing awareness of emotions, what depletes you (situations, places, people) and what energies you
- Going to therapy regularly
- Journaling about your emotions
Our minds need ample rest as well! Mental rest gives us a break from concentrating and mentally processing information.
Here are a few examples of mental rest:
- Spending time in nature
- Intentionally slowing down routines (I.e. slowing down and savouring the process of making coffee or tea in the morning)
- Taking a social media break
- Taking a news break
- Watching or listening to something comforting and familiar
This type of rest helps align us with what gives us both purpose and meaning in life. Spiritual rest can anchor us in a world that can often feel chaotic and unpredictable. This is especially true of the current times we live in- it can be easy to fall into a hole of existential dread :(
If you find yourself feeling afloat, alone, or hopeless - it's very likely that you are in need of some serious spiritual rest. Keep in mind that spiritual rest looks different for everyone! Anything that helps you connect with a greater sense of purpose, your deep inner self, or brings you a sense of peace and grounding is spiritually restorative.
Here are a few examples of spiritual rest:
- Reading or studying sacred literature
- Guided meditations
- Sacred music and poetry
- Connecting with your religious or spiritual community
- Volunteering your time or donating money to causes that are close to your heart
Sensory rest provides us with a break from technology, light, noise, or people. If you have ever experienced 'sensory overload' you may have an appreciation for why this type of rest is so very important!
Here is an interesting reflection for those of us new to the concept of sensory rest: The beauty of our experiences lie in our nervous system's ability to sense the world around us! We are so immersed in sensing the world, that we sadly overlook the need for resting our senses.
Sensory rest can involve creating space for quietness, dim light, and low stimulation. Here are a few examples of sensory rest:
- Going outside for fresh air
- Dimming the lights or using candlelight
- Taking time away from screens
- Follow the rhythm of your body and natural world (sleeping, eating and resting) and schedule work for when your body works optimally
- Set a timer to help you disconnect every 1-2 hours for a short period
Signs You Need Rest
Our bodies and minds are remarkable. They regularly give us information and insight into our needs, including our need for restorative rest.
Let's go through each type of rest and explore the signs that you may need to give some care and attention to this area.
Signs You Need Physical Rest
- You are often ill and have a weak immune system
- You experience soreness and muscle pain often
- You depend on substances for rest and comfort (i.e. food, alcohol)
- You lack the energy to complete phsyical tasks
- You feel tired but have trouble falling asleep
- You depend on substances for energy
Signs You Need Social Rest
- You feel like you are alone in the world
- You gravitate towards people who treat you poorly
- You tend to isolate yourself from others
- You feel distant from those closest to you
- You prefer relationships to be online rather than in person
- You struggle to maintain or make new friendships
Signs You Need Creative Rest
- You have a tendency to self-sabotage your happiness by doing things that are destructive to your wellbeing
- You frequently feel like your work is worthless and/or underappreciated by others
- You never prioritize your own needs and instead focus on the needs of others
- You find it hard to enjoy things in their natural state
- You deny yourself self-care because you do not feel deserving of it
- You feel selfish whenever you do something for yourself
Signs You Need Emotional Rest
- You have a bad habit of focusing on your flaws and failures
- You exhibit strong feelings of worry and anxiety about situations
- You avoid trying new things due to insecurities and self-doubt
- You feel the need to make constant apologies or clarifications for just being yourself
- You are overly critcal of yourself when you make mistakes
- You feel irritated or depressed when thinking about your life
Signs You Need Mental Rest
- You find it extremely difficult to mentally keep up with your task list
- You become frustrated and annoyed when thinking about your day ahead
- You avoid doing certain things due to fear of failure
- You often feel sluggish or like you are in a mental fog throughout the day
- You sometimes lose your temper over things that are insignificant
- You spend long amounts of time trying to tackle overwhelming tasks
Signs You Need Spiritual Rest
- You frequently feel detached and numb to your emotions
- You feel defeated, hopeless, and trapped
- You experience a lack of motivation and feel as though life is a waste of energy
- You experience a sense of disconnection
- You feel distant from your beliefs
- You feel less satisfaction and a decreased sense of accomplishment
Signs You Need Sensory Rest
- You feel sensitive or experience negative reactions to loud sounds
- You dislike physical touch from others
- You crave processed foods and feel like natural foods lack flavour
- You have blurry vision or eye fatigue/pressure/strain
- You are experiencing a weaked sense of smell
- You struggle to enjoy experiences that are sensory rich
Before You Go...
Rest can be uneasy for many of us. As mentioned above, the capitalist society we live in does not value rest. By showing your nervous system that rest is a priority, that rest becomes revolutionary.
We want to hear from you: What are your favourite or much-needed forms of rest?
Until next time!