7 Types of Rest— Which One Do You Need to Help You Feel More Emotionally Well?

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Are you wondering how to be less tired?

“I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning.” ― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I am no stranger to fatigue.  I have been tired for longer than I can remember being not tired.  The sad reality is, sometimes sleep just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes the fatigue is so oppressive, you just wish you didn’t exist at all.

I’ve spent the past three years looking for solutions for fatigue, since the birth of my youngest daughter.  I am getting there. It’s getting better. But I have had to take a hard, long look at the things I was doing. Was I resting in the right type of way? Keep reading to see I discovered.

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Sacred Rest

My sister noticed that I had not been myself for a while. I was so bogged down by exhaustion that I was not functioning well. She introduced me to a book last year that I really got a lot out of.  It’s called Sacred Rest by Sandra Dalton-Smith.  

“How can you keep your energy, happiness, creativity, and relationships fresh and thriving in the midst of never-ending family demands, career pressures, and the stress of everyday life? In SACRED REST, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a board-certified internal medicine doctor, reveals why rest can no longer remain optional.

Dr. Dalton-Smith shares seven types of rest she has found lacking in the lives of those she encounters in her clinical practice and research-physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social, creative-and why a deficiency in any one of these types of rest can have unfavorable effects on your health, happiness, relationships, creativity, and productivity. SACRED REST combines the science of rest, the spirituality of rest, the gifts of rest, and the resulting fruit of rest. It shows rest as something sacred, valuable, and worthy of our respect.

By combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, SACRED REST gives the weary permission to embrace rest, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear.” (Amazon description for Sacred Rest)

Sacred Rest, 7 types of rest

The 7 types of rest

Like I said above, sometimes you just feel like sleep isn’t enough.  You can get enough sleep at night and still spend the next day feeling worn, like you’re dragging your legs through a pool of molasses.  If that is the case for you, here are some action steps you can take to help feel less burned out. Dalton-Smith fleshes the ideas out better in her book (it is a must read!) but here is a basic breakdown of a few of the 7 types of rest she discusses.

Physical

Sometimes, we simply need physical rest.  Our lives get hectic. We work too much, we take our kids to too many places, and we push ourselves too hard exercising.  

This goes beyond not getting enough sleep at night.  The book makes an important distinction: sleep is not rest.  Getting enough sleep in between grueling day after grueling day is not a solution.

So, what can you do? Cut back on activities to the extent that you can.  You can also implement a weekly “do nothing day.” Pick a day of the week where the entire family can commit to not going anywhere and not engaging in strenuous physical activity.

Also, I always recommend asking for help.  There is no shame in it. The pace of life can be hectic, and even the best parents and employees occasionally need to call for reinforcement. Take this time when you have help to get some self care.

Mental

This is very common in people that have been working really hard, and especially in parents.  Our jobs get too overwhelming, whether that is a job outside of the home or you are a stay at home parent.

Do you find yourself having too much on your mind? Too many worries?  If you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, you might be experiencing fatigue, and could be in need of mental rest.

If you think this is the case for you, your to-do list might need a tweak!  Make it a habit to cross 2-3 things off of your list each day, and put them off for another day.  We try to do too much, and there is a good chance that a couple things on your to-do list can wait until tomorrow.

You can also try meditation to help quiet your mind.  Set aside 10-15 minutes at the end of the day to relax and enjoy some time calming your brain and ignoring as much outside stimuli as possible.

how to feel more rested

Spiritual

Is your heart weary in a hate-filled world?  Are you looking for answers, or meaning, or validation?  Many people find themselves run down when they are not getting enough spiritual rest.  I certainly feel this way in today’s political climate. Things seem hopeless, filled with constant tension from all sides.

If this sounds like you, journaling might be a really good fit.  Truthfully, I think it is a good fit for everyone!  Take even 5 minutes each day to write down your worries, and then take sometimes to come up with a positive counter-statement.  

It could also be helpful to explore a spiritual path.  This does not have to be the Christian conception of God.  (I’m not a Christian, and that’s not the purpose of this blog.)  But there are many different paths to choose from, and you might find that one of them can bring you comfort.

journal, how to feel more rested

Emotional

In a way, this one goes hand in hand with the one above (Spiritual rest).  My heart has been incredibly heavy this past year. I’m still grieving the loss of my grandmother, and this season of parenting has been challenging.  Apart from that, I live with anxiety and bipolar disorder. All of those things add up to a pretty potent emotional cocktail.

If you are like me, I definitely recommend seeing a therapist.  Therapy is a game changer.  These licensed professionals are trained to think outside of the box, and come up with coping strategies that you might not be able to think of yourself.

Maybe your emotional health has gotten to a point where you need professional help.  Try not to worry. Yes, it might seem scary, but I promise, help is out there. And you are definitely not alone.

How to get the rest you need

Self care is essential.  You might get enough sleep and still find yourself tired.  Burdened by your day to day routine. So sluggish and unmotivated that you can’t manage to get out of bed.

My top three tips are:

  • Cut back on your day to day responsibilities.
  • Ask for help in whatever way you can.
  • Read this book.  It was really helpful to me.  Take some time to identify what kind of rest your body needs, and then make sure you take action.

“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” (Ralph Marston)

Which type of rest does it sound like you need? Let me know in the comments! And please, share this post if you found it helpful.

Try these tips for how to feel more rested, and start getting your life back.


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Related posts for how to feel less tired:

How to explain depression, according to Twitter

What is guided meditation?

Amazing Self Care Ideas: 10 Ways You Can Beat Stress

5 simple ways to avoid burnout

How to recognize the physical symptoms of depression and anxiety

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102 thoughts on “7 Types of Rest— Which One Do You Need to Help You Feel More Emotionally Well?”

  1. Such a good read! Rest and rejuvenation are so important but can feel so elusive as a busy mom. I’m always try to balance making time for all the different types of rest. Right now I need physical and emotional rest. It’s been hard to have any personal rejuvenation during quarantine.

    1. It definitely has been a lot harder when you’re with little ones constantly now. Just have to somehow find the time. But it has been much harder for me too! So hang in there. Hopefully it all blows over soon 🙂

  2. These days I don’t think many people are able to get the rest that they need. Stress is a killer but I really like this idea and these tips.

    1. Yeah, it is definitely much harder these days. Life has gotten stressful really quickly. Hopefully it eases up soon. Thanks for reading!

  3. This was so insightful! I can relate to each type of rest! I would say the one I need most help with is mental rest.

  4. I love this topic. It’s something I believe we all struggle with at least at some point of our lives. I like to listen to sleep meditation recordings on YouTube. connecting with spirit guides is always fun 🙂

  5. I love the sound of that book! Rest is so important. Right now life is so busy with work, homeschooling and keeping the house together and all the cooking and cleaning that I need a lot of mental rest…whether I get it or not is the question!

    1. Mental rest seems to be the popular one. For me it helps to disengage by mindlessly watching tv at night lol. Sounds silly, but it helps for me to “not think” for a while. Thanks for reading!

  6. This was a very useful post! I tend to feel worn out and tired all the time too and I might have to dive in deeper into what is causing this. Thank you for this amazing post!

  7. This is a great post. Lately I’ve been a bit tired, but I know the weather has been gloomy. That usually does it for me. Between that and now homeschooling the kids and working, it has been a lot.

  8. This is such a beautiful post. I actually all these types of rests not in a day but in a different day and situation. But today I am wishing for a physical rest since I’ve been working all day long.

  9. OMG. Yes. I so can relate. For me personally lack of sleep and fatigue all started after the birth of my first daughter (she’s almost 13 now). My sleep has never been the same. I’ve gone to doctors etc. They’ve told me my Vitamin D is low.

    1. Mine was too, and my iron. I agree though, that it’s never been the same since having kids. It’s so much harder to calm your mind down. Thanks for reading!

  10. BB has had to use each of these methods, sometimes a couple at the same time! Gracias for being to forthcoming and truthful; it truly does help to know a real person is also looking for a real solution, while trying to make do with whatcha got.

    1. We all can right now, I think. It’s an unprecedented time for us. I hope life calms down for you soon! Thanks for reading!

  11. Very interesting read, I’ve got into meditation and meditation music, as mental rest is something I’ve always found really difficult.

    1. I really want to try meditation but I’m bad at it LOL. I will give it another shot. Mental rest is my downfall too!

  12. Hmm, I never thought of rest as having subtypes but, thinking about it, I realize that lying down or sleeping longer is sometimes not the kind of rest I need, and writing is what I need to feel at peace and reenergized. 🙂

  13. It’s so true, there are many different types of rest that are needed at different times. I love how you broke this down. I’ll be honest, right now I feel like I need every kind of rest possible being pregnant and having two toddlers at home with me in quarantine!

  14. This is really interesting I am absolutely exhausted at the moment and it doesn’t matter how much I sleep it just doesn’t get better, so I will have to look into this more!

    1. It was fantastic! I highly recommend it. If you check it out, let me know what you think. Thanks for reading 🙂

  15. I’ve never really thought about there being multiple kinds of rest. This was very helpful! I definitely need more mental rest. I feel like I’m always on and then running fuzzy through the day and the thoughts don’t turn off at night!

  16. I’ve never really thought about my tiredness in any other way other than the need for sleep so this is really interesting.

    I can totally relate to it though, Just reading I was able to pinpoint times where I felt physically and in particular, emotionally tired. That was my permanent state during grieving. Even now, If I have a good cry, its like taking a sleeping tablet. I am just completely worn out.

  17. I definitely know that sleep can sometimes not be enough to recharge the batteries. Two days ago all i wanted to do was rest after a full night of sleep and today i feel great after a poor night of sleep

    1. It’s strange how it works, isn’t it? For me, I NEED peace and quiet after a long day of being overstimulated by the kids. Thanks for reading!

  18. I can definitely tell the difference between physical and mental exhaustion, I’m guilty of trying to do too much every day so perhaps I need to chill out a little so I’m not so mentally exhausted. I think this book sounds like something I’d be interested in reading.

  19. Pam Wattenbarger

    I’d never thought about sleep not being rest before, but I can see how that would be true. I like the idea of crossing off a couple of nonessential things on the to-do list too.

    1. I’m doing that today myself if I can lol. I want to clean the bathrooms, but they look pretty clean… Thanks for reading!

    1. This book was really mind-blowing for me and gave me a lot to think about, self care wise. Glad you enjoyed it!

  20. This is a real eye opener – the point about how sleep is not rest has genuinely blown my mind. I find journalling is a great way to get any thoughts out if your mind is feeling super crowded especially, and I’ve started to get myself into the habit of learning to say no to stuff and that’s made a huge difference!

  21. Oh this post is wonderful! I honestly never thought of rest as being anything more than physical! But when you break it down like you have you can truly find out what rest you need! My main issue is definitely needing mental rest! Thank you so much for sharing this! I can 100% say I will be returning to read again and remind myself of these!

    Ashleigh – https://www.ashleighsmoments.com

  22. I’ve never heard of The Sacred Rest, but I think I’m going to read this book. I feel tired everyday like I never get enough rest. Part of the problem is everything I have to plus going to bed late, but my job also takes a lot of mental energy. By the end of the day, I’m exhausted. Rest is definitely something we all need more of. Thank you for sharing.

  23. Awesome post. I have been putting lots of hours both for my career and working on my blog. After reading your post, I will cut back and start working smart. Its exhosting and emotinally draining. I need rest to recharge.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! Sorry you’ve been exhausted, but I hope the book helps. Definitely check it out. Feel free to share the post!

  24. I’ve noticed as your sister noted for you that I am different without consistent rest and that due to several life changes, I’ve more easily ruffled. I think your suggestion of journaling may help with unpacking what I’m feeling and help me to put things in perspective. Very informative post about the types of rest we need to receive.

  25. I never knew there were so many different variations of rest. I have starting to include meditation in my day. I have set aside a block of time daily for it so I do not get distracted. Great post!

  26. Oh my goodness, this post came at the right time for me. I really needed to hear this… I’ve been exhausted and haven’t really admitted it to myself. I might check out this book.

  27. You know I loved this post. Not sure if you are following any of my posts but I have one with Sacred Rest mentioned in it too! I love love love that book and am keeping it as a reference for life. Very thorough description and great job how you laid all of the 7 types out. Nicely done! So glad this info is getting out there for folks with mental health struggles especially. All the best to you!

  28. I’m definitely getting my hands on a copy of this book. How interesting, I had never considered the different varieties of rest before but how important it is to understand these in order to properly rest. Thank you for sharing xxx

  29. This is an eye-opening post. I never thought of rest being any more but physical (lying down on the couch after a long day), or sleeping. But I never feel rested, and I NEVER sleep well. First of all, I’m running out to buy “Sacred Rest.” I love the concepts you talk about here, and would absolutely like to explore them further, especially the emotional rest (I’m grieving too…I never would have anticipated how exhausting it can be). Great post!

    1. Thank you! It has truly done wonders for me. (Crashing asleep at 6 or 630 from mental stress and overstimulation, vs now being able to stay awake til 9 or so!)

  30. As someone who seriously suffers with fatigue I can really relate to this. There are so many ways to be tired, and sleep doesn’t help all of them. These are some really useful suggestions, really helpful!

  31. This is wonderfully laid out and very helpful. I feel a little part of me is connected to each type. Rest is so important but also one of the hardest things to do for ourselves. This year I’ve committed to not feeling like I always need to be doing something and to give myself time to rest.

    1. Yesss! I’m so glad you said this. That was part of my 2019 issue was trying to do all the damn things. This is my year where I rest more and just sharpen my focus on the few things that matter. Thanks for reading. Feel free to share!

  32. I love this post so much! Thank you for sharing these things. Rest is so important! I feel like often when you say rest people think of sleep but there is so much more to rest than just sleep. Sleep is only one part of feeling better, it’s also important to take care of your body mentally xx

    1. It’s so crazy isn’t it? I was having significant chronic fatigue. Like falling asleep at 6pm nightly despite having like 10-11 hours of sleep the night before. But when I started getting more REST, and the kinds that I needed, my fatigue is much better. I’m up til like 9 now! Thanks for reading. Feel free to share.

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