When I came across this article online via TED called ‘The 7 types of rest we all need’  based on the work of Dr Dalton-Smith I was delighted – someone had summed up what I have been talking to patients about for years in a wonderfully easy to understand way.

Intentional resting.

I’ll outline the excellent article below.
Many people come to see me for help who are experiencing chronic anxiety, low energy, challenging menopausal symptoms, post-viral fatigue – and on many occasions I have felt a significant root cause may be due to a lack of rest – essentially over-doing it – both physically and mentally and possibly emotionally too.

Unfortunately however, never-ending activity and stimulation is considered normal in our western, capitalist culture, but in my view it is deeply unhealthy. We seem ever-focused on achievement and subject ourselves to endless mental and physical activity. Culturally, we assume that we can live like this without consequence as it’s what everyone does, right?  Of course there is the need to earn money and survive and we may have caring responsibilities. Some of our circumstances feel like we cannot change. However, we also often subject ourselves to lots of extra mental stimulation from the moment we wake unitl we go to our beds. Smartphones have made this even worse and this is where perhaps we do have some choices and perhaps we need to create some healthy boundaries. We are often proud of our ‘work ethic’ and being very busy, but everything needs it’s counterbalance. We also need more of a ‘rest ethic’. 

It is understandable that we all want to do our best and live a full life, but we often don’t allow ourselves adequate rest time to counteract the activity. We are not machines, we are delicate organisms with sensitive nervous systems which cannot be worked into the ground. 

If our bodies and nervous systems are in the ‘on’ position too much, which usually means we will have stress hormones circulating in our systems to varying degrees it can eventually cause problems. This ‘on’ position is where we are active physically or mentally, whether that’s working, being online, doing aerobic exercise, driving, watching tv, scrolling your phone, or experiencing emotional stress. If this is the only ‘mode’ we operate in it may eventually lead to exhaustion or burn-out which can lead to chronic illness, inflammation or anxiety amongst other things.

It is vital that we allow ourselves to also sit in the ‘off’ position in equal amounts to the ‘on’, We must give ourselves permission to take this time out, and this isn’t just about getting enough sleep (although that is also important). We must Intentionally Rest. We have to take a look at our lives and ask ourselves how we can rest our bodies, minds and hearts every day, especially as we age, otherwise it will be to our detriment.  

The article is paraphrased here 
The 7 types of rest we all need
Physical rest / Mental rest / Sensory rest / Creative rest / Emotional rest / Social rest / Spiritual rest 

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, stretching and massage therapy that help improve the body’s circulation and flexibility.

The second type of rest is mental rest. Do you know that coworker who starts work every day with a huge cup of coffee? He’s often irritable and forgetful, and he has a difficult time concentrating on his work. When he lies down at night to sleep, he frequently struggles to turn off his brain as conversations from the day fill his thoughts. And despite sleeping seven to eight hours, he wakes up feeling as if he never went to bed. He has a mental rest deficit.

The good news is you don’t have to quit your job or go on vacation to fix this. Schedule short breaks to occur every two hours throughout your workday; these breaks can remind you to slow down. You might also keep a notepad by the bed to jot down any nagging thoughts that would keep you awake.

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.

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. Do you recall the first time you saw the Grand Canyon, the ocean or a waterfall? Allowing yourself to take in the beauty of the outdoors — even if it’s at a local park or in your backyard — 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.

Now let’s take a look at another individual — the friend whom 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 favor 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.

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.

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. 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.

See the full article here:


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