7 types of rest

7 Types of Rest— Which One is Going to Help You Feel More Emotionally Well?

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“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.

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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?

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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)

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.


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.


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.

7 types of rest, mental health, wellness, rest, sacred rest


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.

7 types of rest


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.

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.

7 types of rest, rest, sacred rest, mental health
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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)

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44 thoughts on “7 Types of Rest— Which One is Going to Help You Feel More Emotionally Well?”

  1. 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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

  10. 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!)

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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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