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What are the different types of rest?

Rest is essential to the normal functioning of human beings. We know and respect this about children - it is built into their days to have naptime or quiet time, multiple times a day. At some point in childhood though, someone decided that we don’t need rest anymore. That what we need to do is prepare for long hours in the factory. (I’m pretty sure it was Henry Ford that decided this).

But the problem is that humans don't stop needing rest. We are just told that it is weak to continue to need it.

Are you feeling anxious and overwhelmed, like you need to constantly achieve, you're pulled way to thin and you just want to abort mission, go home and curl up into a ball? You might be missing out on the different types of rest.

But the problem is that humans don't stop needing rest. We are just told that it is weak to continue to need it.

Capitalism and the “need” to be productive at all times supports the lie that we continue to be told. In our fast-paced, modern lives, finding time for proper rest and relaxation is crucial for maintaining overall well-being and productivity. While most of us are familiar with physical and mental rest, there are 5 other essential dimensions that often go overlooked. In this article, we will explore the seven types of rest, including the type of rest that is most often neglected.

Understanding these different dimensions will empower you to prioritize rest and incorporate a holistic approach to wellness in your daily life.

different types of rest
kitty getting all 7 types of rest

What are the 7 different types of rest?

Physical Rest

Mental Rest

Spiritual Rest

Emotional Rest

Sensory Rest

Social Rest

Creative Rest

Let’s talk about each of the 7 types of rest and break down each one.

What is physical rest?

Physical rest is like sleep, what I was talking about above. It is letting your physical body rest and do all the things it needs to do like digest, process, repair, etc...

What is mental rest?

Mental rest is giving your mind a break from all the planning, overthinking, and rumination that you put it through on the daily. Mental rest might look like meditation or it may be something more simple like going on a walk in nature without listening to anything other than the sounds around you.

What is spiritual rest?

Spiritual rest is what happens when you are living in your purpose, in your dharma. This consists of whatever it is that your intentional life brings in. My spiritual rest is when I get to play around in my garden, tending to the flowers and herbs. Maybe I will decide to make a drink or a snack using something that I grew. Spiritual rest allows you to connect deeper with yourself, your ancestors, and the earth. This is often overlooked because we get so caught up in the productivity of life, and keeping up with the Joneses. We prioritize what looks good on instagram over what feels good in our souls.

What is emotional rest?

Emotional rest comes with the safety to be vulnerable and authentic. It takes work to be able to rest in this way. Think about the person (maybe it's you) who is always trying to cover their emotions or just wants to seem happy- it takes so much effort to be able to do that! But it comes from a place of not feeling safe to express yourself authentically... and creating that safety takes effort too.

What is sensory rest?

Sensory rest is a break for your senses. Turn off The Bear, don't listen to the New Taylor Swift release... Close your eyes down. This is why sensory deprivation tanks are popular. You don't have to go that far though. Looking out at some blue space (water) or green space (trees, grass) has been shown to calm the mind and senses. One of my favorite ways to get a quick hit of sensory rest is to just lie down and close my eyes with nothing playing in the background… and just breathe. I’ll set a time for anywhere between 5 - 20 minutes, just in case this sensory rest leads me to fall asleep; that way I don’t miss anything in my day.

What is social rest?

Social rest can be taking a break from socializing OR it can be only socializing with people who energize you. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and are easy to be around. Spend as much time with them as possible. Introverts and Extroverts will have totally different needs when it comes to social rest. This is why self-awareness is central to everything I teach. You need to know your limits and needs when it comes to social rest and what works best for you.

What is creative rest?

Creative rest is the time that you give to yourself to be able to appreciate art and beauty. Maybe that means walking through a museum or garden. Maybe it's strolling through a neighborhood with gorgeous architecture and design. Maybe it means filling your home with lots of color, patterns, and texture. Whatever it is that you find beautiful, spend time with it. This is also the time that you take to be creative, to make things. My creative rest comes in the kitchen sometimes, creating delicious meals for my partner and I. It also comes through doodling or rearranging my desk space. Problem solving taps into your creative brain space as well.

Which is the most important of the 7 types of rest?

None of them. Your self care plan should include each of the 7 types of rest on a regular basis.

I recommend that you pick the one that feels easiest for you to work on first, and then begin to add the others in from there.

Is it easiest to develop an evening routine that supports 8ish hours of sleep? Do that. Is it easier to turn off the TV and sit down to paint? Do that.

In our quest for productivity and success, we often forget the importance of rest and rejuvenation. Rest is important, just for rest’s sake. But it is also an essential piece of the productivity puzzle. Understanding the different types of rest, including physical, mental, emotional, social, sensory, creative, and spiritual rest, empowers us to prioritize our well-being and lead more fulfilling lives.

By incorporating these various dimensions of rest into our daily routines, we can achieve a better balance between work and leisure, leading to improved health, contentment, and overall wellness

Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury but a necessity. Embrace the power of rest and allow it to fuel your journey towards a more balanced and harmonious life.

Your self care is and always will be about you and what feels best for you. That doesn’t mean that it won't ever be hard work or difficult - going to therapy and the doctor are self care - but it does mean that you get to decide what feels right for you and what doesn’t.

So, take a deep breath, relax, and start incorporating these types of rest into your life today.


different types of rest - intentional self care coach

Kaylin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Intentional Self Care coach. She created the Messy Authentic Newsletter to help others turn the chaos in their lives into an intentional lifestyle.

Kaylin is obsessed with all things wellness, and through her programs teaches anxious overachievers how to quiet their mental chatter so they can have inner peace and deep connection.

With an all virtual practice, Kaylin is able to provide therapy to anyone in the state of California, and can coach individuals located anywhere.

Learn more here and schedule a consultation call to work with Kaylin.

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