What is it about rest that makes us feel guilty when we do it? Maybe it’s because resting— relaxing, kicking back, sleeping, not doing anything— makes us look like we’re lazy, unmotivated, or avoiding work.
On the contrary: According to an article on the benefits of rest, there is much to gain with this fundamental part of success, health, and happiness. In fact, all types of rest— from a 30-minute nap to a two-week vacation— can do wonders for our body, mind, and spirit.
“Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and so often difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us,” said Pope Francis in his Meeting with Families in Manila in 2015. “But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what He asks of us.”
Remember: Rest doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing. Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith, board-certified internal medicine physician, work-life integration researcher, and author of the book Sacred Rest, identifies seven types of rest and how we can achieve them:
Seven Types of Rest: Physical
Sleeping is a passive form of rest, but there are active ways to recharge, too. Try the gentle moves of yoga or tai chi or treat yourself to a massage. A 30-minute massage relaxes while promoting circulation and flexibility. (Read: We Asked a Fitness Coach: What’s the Best Way to Stay Fit at Home?)
Seven Types of Rest: Mental
Can’t think straight for the moment? Bogged down by information overload? Burned out from the work-from-home setup? Rest your weary mind with mandatory 10-minute timeouts. Go for a walk, or sit still and take deep breaths. Listen to some music. Even mini-breaks help clear the mind and inspire creative thought. (Read: 3 Tips to Beat Information Overload)
Seven Types of Rest: Creative
Artists and writers aren’t the only ones who experience a creative dry spell. If you’re required to constantly churn out innovative ideas at work, you could find yourself with nothing new to contribute. Get your creative juices flowing by finding inspiration from other creatives: Listen and dance to music, admire other artists’ works, curl up with a good book and read.
Seven Types of Rest: Social
Does constantly checking news feeds on social media leave you exhausted and overwhelmed? Log off and be by yourself for a while. Or spend time with people who really matter— those who genuinely love and accept you for who you are. (Read: 3 Ways to Avoid ‘Cancel Culture’ in Social Media)
Seven Types of Rest: Emotional
Does your work require you to give time and attention to others? We’re talking medical front-liners, psychiatrists, counselors, and caregivers. Or have you recently experienced something traumatic like retrenchment from work, separation from a significant other, or illness or death in the family? Soothe your anger, anxiety, or grief by retreating from the world and calming yourself with silence, music, or prayer.
Seven Types of Rest: Sensory
If you’ve been staring at your phone or computer screen all day— or your job exposes you to deafening sounds, blinding lights, strong smells, or constant chatter— give your senses a break! Unplug from electronic devices and be uplifted by the natural beauty of plants, the mountains, the sea, and the sky. (Read: ‘Plant Lola’ Shares How Gardening Brought Her Joy Upon Retirement)
Seven Types of Rest: Spiritual
Have you been too focused on family, work, or making sure everyone is safe from COVID-19? Or has the effects of the ongoing pandemic turned you depressed and cynical? Prayer and meditation aren’t the only ways to lift that dark cloud you’re under.
Try volunteering. The act of caring for people who are grateful for even a little assistance means no help is too small or insignificant to make a big difference. (Read: Want to participate in a feeding program? These organizations seek volunteers!)