This week I’m away with my partner and our dog on the East Coast, a break away and just what we needed to recharge our batteries. We’ve walked a lot, mostly in the rain – British Summertime in full swing – we’ve talked a lot, we’ve explored and yesterday we found a beautiful Chinese garden and walks through the trees and by the streams and waterfalls, I found my Zen.
In 2015 whilst still recovering from my burnout, everyone was telling me to rest. To stop and to rest, to do nothing. And I spent some time doing nothing, and resting, and getting sleep, and nothing changed – I still felt exhausted.
We’re told that sleep and resting is good for us and something that we should do to benefit our health, but what if time out and sleep aren’t working for you? Did you know that sleep and rest are not the same thing and that many of us confuse the two?
We go through life thinking we’ve rested because we have gotten enough sleep — but in reality we are missing out on the other types of rest we desperately need. The result is a culture of high-achieving, high-producing, chronically tired and chronically burned-out individuals. We’re suffering from a rest deficit because we don’t understand the true power of rest.
The right type of rest is important, and there are 7 types of rest that can benefit you.
The first type of rest we need is physical rest, which can be passive or active. Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping, while active physical rest means restorative activities such as yoga, pilates stretching and massage therapy that help improve the body’s circulation and flexibility. I love my yoga practice and if you’ve never experienced a sound bath or Yoga Nidra, you don’t know what you’re missing.
The second type of rest is mental rest. Do you know that co-worker who starts work every day with a huge cup of coffee? Personally I haven’t had any caffeine for years and start my days with a water, a peppermint tea and a protein shake. The caffeine fuelled co-worker or family member can often be irritable and forgetful, and they have a difficult time concentrating on their work. When they lie down at night to sleep, they frequently struggle to turn off their brain as conversations from the day fill their thoughts. And despite sleeping seven to eight hours, they wake up feeling as if they never went to bed. They have a mental rest deficit.
The good news is you don’t have to quit your job or go on vacation to fix this, although a break can be as good as rest. Schedule short breaks to occur every two hours throughout your workday; these breaks can remind you to slow down. Ideally take at least one break a day outside, the benefits of this can be enormous.
The third type of rest we need is sensory rest. Bright lights, computer screens, background noise and multiple conversations — whether they’re in an office or on Zoom calls — can cause our senses to feel overwhelmed. This can be countered by doing something as simple as closing your eyes for a minute in the middle of the day, as well as by intentionally unplugging from electronics at the end of every day. Intentional moments of sensory deprivation can begin to undo the damage inflicted by the over-stimulating world. I have no tech after 8pm, I’ve personally realised the benefits this can have on my mindset, my wellbeing and the quality of my sleep.
The fourth type of rest is creative rest. 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. Allowing yourself to take in the beauty of the outdoors — even if it’s at a local park or in your garden — provides you with creative rest.
But creative rest isn’t simply about appreciating nature; it also includes enjoying the arts. Turn your workspace into a place of inspiration by displaying images of places you love and works of art that speak to you. You can’t spend 40 hours a week staring at blank or jumbled surroundings and expect to feel passionate about anything, much less come up with innovative ideas. My office is full of beautiful images – if you’ve zoomed with me you’ll have seen my bright and colourful tree. I also have images of family, my dog, my vision board, and goals.
Now let’s look at another person — the friend that everyone thinks is the nicest person they’ve ever met. It’s the person everyone depends on, the one you’d call if you needed a favour or some help with something because even if they don’t want to do it, you know they’ll give you a reluctant “yes” rather than a truthful “no”. But when this person is alone, they feel unappreciated and like others are taking advantage of them – I’ve been there and I know many others who have also felt the same.
This person requires emotional rest, which means having the time and space to freely express your feelings and cut back on people-pleasing. Emotional rest also requires the courage to be authentic. An emotionally rested person can answer the question “How are you today?” with a truthful “I’m not okay” — and then go on to share some hard things that otherwise go unsaid – something many of us still need to master.
If you’re in need of emotional rest, you probably have a social rest deficit too. This occurs when we fail to differentiate between those relationships that revive us from those relationships that exhaust us. If you’ve been on any of my workshops or masterclasses you’ll have heard me refer to these as the angels and vampires. To experience more social rest, surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Even if your interactions have to occur virtually, you can choose to engage more fully in them by turning on your camera and focusing on who you’re speaking to.
The final type of rest is spiritual rest, which is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose. To receive this, engage in something greater than yourself and add prayer, meditation or community involvement to your daily routine.
Recognising the type of rest that I need has been a game-changer for me. Netflix and chill is adding me no value whatsoever if I need sensory rest and to get outside and a tough workout is no real benefit if I need physical rest.
Which of the 7 types of rest do you need more of right now?
What can you do to ensure that you get it?
Kelly is an Executive Coach for Professional Women who are ready to be their own VIP at kellyswingler.com and Founder of the Chrysalis Crew.
Kelly leads and coaches with an open heart and an open mind and challenges the status quo.