Do you ever sleep a full eight hours and wake up tired, only to repeat the cycle the next night, and the next, and wonder what on earth is going on?
This has been a recurring pattern for me for a number of years and it has led to an interest in studying rest. Both what it is and what it means for us in our day-to-day lives.
From a biblical point of view, the bible models rest for us. From God taking a day of rest in the creation story in Exodus 31, to Matthew 11: 28-30, it is clear that rest is God’s idea.
Seven Types Of Rest
While researching rest I discovered that the field of neuroscience has a lot to say about rest as well. Not only do we need rest to be productive, there are actually seven different types of rest that are necessary for us to be at our best. This resonated with me and answered the question of why I so often felt so tired even when I was sleeping well.
1. Physical Rest
We need physical rest, which doesn’t just mean sleeping. Physical rest can be things like stretching and massage, that help our bodies to recover.
2. Mental Rest
Trouble concentrating? You know you need this type of rest if you find yourself having trouble concentrating or if you can’t turn off your brain at night. Ways to help with mental rest can be to make sure that you schedule regular breaks during the day at work or keep a note pad near the bed to write down things that are keeping you awake.
3. Sensory Rest (AKA a Break From Technology)
In today’s world, there is always technology competing for our attention. We have screens, streaming, notifications, emails, texts, and social media – it literally never stops. The world is full of noise and we rarely take a break. I have recently started shutting my phone in a drawer on Saturdays to take sensory rest. I was finding that I was feeling obligated to answer notifications on the weekend and I knew I needed to take a break from it. It has been one of the best choices for sensory rest I could have made. Other ideas are to close your eyes in the middle of the day, turn your office lights off for five minutes and do some deep breathing or unplug all from electronics at the end of each day.
4. Creative Rest (AKA Find Something That Inspires You)
If you work in an area of creativity, problem-solving, or are required to brainstorm regularly, this type of rest is really important. We get creative rest from going outside for five minutes and admiring the beauty around us. I like to take a five-minute gratitude walk every morning before work. Creative rest is also about finding things that inspire you, pictures of things you love, beautiful artwork, or photography.
5. Emotional Rest
Emotional rest includes putting in place boundaries and sticking by them, learning to say no, and being able to process things instead of letting them build up. If you are struggling with emotional rest, things like journalling, counselling, and speaking to someone you trust are all helpful.
6. Social Rest (Spend Time With People That Fill Your Cup)
Social rest is something that everyone needs, regardless of if you are a more introverted personality or an extroverted one. I tend towards more introverted. In my life, I know I need social rest when I book things without looking at my diary. I then overbook myself and find myself dreading the things I have booked, even things I would normally enjoy. Social rest is also about recognising the relationships that fill your cup and scheduling time for those.
7. Spiritual Rest
Spiritual rest is the last type of rest that has been identified. Spiritual rest might look like spending time reading the bible or praying, or being thankful. Another way we get rest is by being involved in a strong faith-based community.
I find I am often physically rested, but in need of social or sensory rest. Now that I am aware that there is more than one type of rest, I have found it has really helped me to be intentional about resting. This has a positive effect on my overall productivity at work and at university. Rest helps me to better balance everything in my life. This means I can be at my best for my family, which ultimately is what I want.
The information I have included here comes from the below links and the Ted Talk by Sandra Dalton Smith, author of Sacred Rest. If you are tired all the time it’s also always a good idea to get checked by your GP.