The seven types of rest
You need more than sleep to restore yourself to the point where you feel well-rested. Prioritise yourself by focusing on getting the right type of rest you need to feel refreshed and re-energised.
Rest and play are as vital to our health as nutrition and exercise. – Brené Brown
We often complain about being exhausted with no energy to do the things we really want to do. How do we solve this problem? Getting more sleep is not the answer. We think we should be well-rested because we sleep eight hours every night but sleep and rest are not the same thing. According to Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith, a physician, researcher and author, we need seven types of rest to feel revitalised.
The seven types of rest
This can be passive or active. Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping, while active physical rest consists of restorative activities, such as yoga and stretching.
Is your mind preoccupied with thoughts of your diagnosis and treatment? Maybe you have difficulty turning off your brain when you are trying to fall asleep at night. Your mind may be filled with images of the treatment room. You could have a mental rest deficit if you are sleeping seven to eight hours per night but waking up feeling as if you never went to bed.
To improve your mental rest, take short breaks every two hours throughout your day to remind yourself to slow down. Some people find it helpful to keep a journal or notepad on their bedside table to write down any concerns that might prevent them from having a good night’s sleep.
Bright lights, computer and cell phone screens, background noise, and being surrounded by people all day long can cause our senses to feel overwhelmed. Put your phone on silent in the evenings or at weekends, informing your loved ones that you need some sensory rest. Lie down in a dark, quiet room if you have the time to take an afternoon nap.
This type of rest enables you to appreciate the beauty and wonder of your surroundings once again. Take a walk in a park or have lunch at a tea garden to experience moments of creative rest. Turn your workspace, or a corner of your home, into a place of inspiration by displaying photos of places that you love or prints of works of art that give you joy.
Do you say yes to requests from your friends or colleagues when you actually mean no? Are you a people pleaser? Then you need emotional rest, which means having the time and space to freely express your feelings and avoid people pleasing. Emotional rest also requires the courage to be authentic by sharing feelings and thoughts that make you feel uncomfortable. For example, by telling a friend that you are not well when they ask how you are doing or saying no when a friend asks you to look after her child.
If you’re in need of emotional rest, you probably require social rest too. To experience social rest, it’s important to differentiate between those relationships that revive you and those relationships that drain you. Surround yourself with people who support you, for example, someone who is willing to be with you and truly listen to you without interrupting you.
This final type of rest is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose. To experience this, make prayer, or meditation, or involvement in your community part of your daily routine.
This article is based on a TEDx Atlanta Talk by Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith.
MEET THE EXPERT – Avril de Beer
Avril de Beer is a social worker at Alberts Cellular Therapy. As a member of the South African Oncology Social Workers Forum (SAOSWF) and Social Workers in Palliative Care and Oncology (SWIPCO), she is passionate about oncology social work. She also has a private practice in Centurion, Pretoria where she focuses on loss and grief counselling.
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