Our lives have become so packed, so busy, so noisy, and so full of conflict. At the end of the day, we feel drained, cranky and overly judgemental. Some of us numbly pace through our days not knowing how out of balance we are, finding nothing to smile about. We might sleep in on Sunday but still wake up feeling tired. Why is that?
Saundra Dalton-Smith, M.D. and author of ‘Sacred Rest’, identified seven types of rest we need in order to feel happy, productive and fulfilled. Dalton-Smith spoke at TEDxAtlanta about how to correct rest deficit from diagnosing patients for common ailments.
What it all comes down to is that sleep is not the same as rest. Sleep is the result of how well we rest, and rest is associated with interrupting activities resulting in a relaxed state. So, if we lack rest, we won’t sleep well.
Here are the seven types of rest and ways to recharge:
1. Physical Rest
The most familiar and obvious type of rest. Your body needs time to recover whether from a workout or sitting behind your laptop. So, take some time to stretch your body and breathe deeply to expand your lungs. As we age, our body will inevitably wear down. Eventually, our need for rest becomes more noticeable.
Physical rest, such as releasing tension and calming your body, repairs and rebuilds the body and mind. When we exert ourselves physically or mentally, we long for the restoration of our energy. Researchers have shown that both the physical stress of manual labour and even the emotional stress of a desk job require subsequent rest for the body and mind to recuperate.
2. Mental Rest
We can all relate to this: when your mind is tired, you get bad-tempered and unfocused, making it easier to make mistakes and experience memory lapses. The more you let your mind wander in past events thinking what you would like to change, self-critiques, and judging others, the quicker you wear out your brain. The same is true with what-ifs about future events.
What you could do is, throughout the day and evening, schedule activities that take little thought. If you can, ground yourself to the present by walking through grass with your bare feet, so you can feel the earth. Also, truly listen to your surroundings, take it all in and let things be.
If you can’t go outside, try to meditate three times a day for five minutes. In the evening, it’s okay to watch some mindless YouTube videos to let your brain process what occurred during the day. You might laugh a little before you go to sleep.
3. Social Rest
This is not about some alone time, it’s rather the opposite. The sad part is, even when you’re around a lot of people, it’s possible to still feel lonely. We are group animals and we all need to be seen, loved, and appreciated by others from time to time. Hopefully, you get this from real people you can relax with who won’t judge or offend you and vice versa.
So, make new friends if you need to. Find like-minded people, whether to hike together, read and talk about books, enjoy the same hobby, or play the same game as you. Face-to-face time is important. Besides live meetings, even acknowledgement from people you know on social media can help.
4. Creative Rest
As we age, we often lose our sense of creativity. You might find ways to express your creative talents in art you enjoy, such as music, dance, and comedy to renew your appreciation for beauty and originality. Creative rest is a creative act in itself. Sometimes, we need to waste time. The poet John Ashbery said it so well: “I waste a lot of time. That’s part of the creative process. The problem is you can’t really use this wasted time. You have to have it wasted.” Of course, “wasted” is a contradiction in this case.
What we learn is by having wasted time we give it a certain value. Our desperate need to create is often opposing to creativity itself. You might want to give it a rest by being a beginner again to reawaken your sense of curiosity in creativity.
Sometimes the best way to give our creative minds a rest is to give our bodies a workout. A study by Stanford found that walking outside produced twice as many creative ideas as sitting in a room. Even participants who walked on a treadmill while staring at a blank wall were able to produce, on average, 60 per cent more ideas that were both novel and appropriate, also known as creative.
5. Emotional Rest
It’s good to cry once in a while because the release can lead to relief and maybe even joy and laughter. Also, the constant pressure to perform and pretend to be someone else can lead to emotional overload. Find people you trust who won’t judge or bombard you with advice to talk about the pressures you feel. Say no when your plate is too full.
When you feel insulted, ignored, unappreciated, or misunderstood, tell them that you feel this way and ask for what you need to move the conversation or relationship forward. When you notice you are hesitating to reach out to someone or start a new task, ask yourself what you are afraid will happen. Talking about your fears out loud often decreases the power they have over your actions.
Be sure you have people in your life whose positive perspective influence your own. Hang out with or at least listen to people who make you laugh when you need an emotional lift.
6. Spiritual Rest
This is not necessarily about religion; it’s about your sense of connection to something bigger than yourself, a purpose.
If you don’t have a life purpose, you can cultivate a sense of purpose. Let music or uplifting videos reunite your body and mind spirit. Allow yourself to feel the warmth of a beautiful sunset, the bloom of a flower, plants soaking up drops of water from rain, or a child’s touch. Journal about these moments to preserve them when you feel disconnected.
7. Sensory Rest
Most of us are overloaded with noise in our environments, interruptions from our computers and phones, artificial light, stressful driving, and other distractions at work and home. You need to take breaks from your electronics to rest your mind and vision.
Our bodies are always processing sensory input. Even when we’re laying still, we can feel the air on our skin and the pressure of gravity pressing our bodies into our beds. Our minds stay active, assessing our environment, observing potential threats or concerns and thinking about the next step.
Relax your senses by immersing yourself in music you love, get whiffs of fresh air, use aromatherapy or cooking to take in good smells, and rub your hands in things you love to touch to awaken your senses individually.
Also, Slow Down
For about a week, I have been feeling tired and worn out. So, I had no choice but to turn in. I could have pushed another few hours of work in the evening or done something more productive, but right now the most productive thing I can do is rest.
When you race from one thing to another, you end up leading a busy but insignificant life. Every time you’re too busy to enjoy a meal, meet up with your friend, or visit a family member, remind yourself to slow down and be in the present. It’s about making the person in front of me feel important and appreciated, because they are. It’s about focussing on the present moment, or everything else you do will suffer.
If you’re rushing through life when you should have been resting, then I challenge you to do the following: Instead of trying to increase the illusional quantity of time, focus on the quality you have with the time you have right now.
- Why are feeling tired?
- Which type of rest are you lacking?
- How do you plan to correct your lack of rest?
Have your say in the comment section 🙂
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