The seven types of rest that every person needs

The seven types of rest that every person needs

Business, Human Resources

Author: Celia Denton (

(Celia is the owner and director of PTES Consulting, specialising in national and international psychometric evaluation and assessment.) 

Have you ever tried to fix an ongoing lack of energy by getting more sleep – only to do so and still feel exhausted?

If this is you, here is the secret: sleep and rest are not the same thing, although many of us incorrectly confuse the two.

We go through life thinking we have rested because we have gotten enough sleep, but in reality we are missing out on the other types of rest we desperately need. The result is a culture of high-achieving, high-producing, chronically tired and chronically burned-out individuals. We are suffering from a rest deficit because we don’t understand the true power of rest.

Rest should equal restoration in seven key areas of your life:

  1. Physical rest

This 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.

  1. Mental rest

Do you know a co-worker who starts work every day with a huge cup of coffee? They are often irritable and forgetful, and have a difficult time concentrating. When they go to sleep, they typically struggle to turn off their brain, and despite sleeping seven to eight hours a night, wake up feeling tired. This is 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 every two hours throughout your workday; these breaks remind you to slow down. You might also want to keep a notepad by the bed to jot down any nagging thoughts that would otherwise keep you awake.

  1. Sensory rest

Bright lights, computer screens, background noise and multiple conversations – whether they are in an office or on a Teams call – 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.

  1. 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 is at a local park or in your own backyard, provides you with creative rest.

However, 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.

  1. Emotional rest

Now let’s take a look at another individual – the friend whom everyone thinks is the nicest person they have ever met. It is the person everyone depends on, the one you would call if you needed a favour because even if they don’t want to do it, you know they will give you a reluctant “yes” rather than a truthful “no”. But when this person is alone, they feel unappreciated and as if 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 would otherwise go unsaid.

  1. Social deficit rest

If you are 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 are speaking to.

  1. Spiritual rest

This 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 and add prayer, meditation or community involvement to your daily routine.

As you can see, sleep alone cannot restore us to the point where we feel rested. Now is the time for us to begin focusing on getting the right type of rest we need.

Editor’s note: Fatigue can also be associated with numerous health problems, so please get checked out by your physician if it persists.