Redefining Rest: 8 Types of Rest & Practical Solutions

Ever have one of those days where you know you need rest so you go to bed early and when you wake up, you don’t feel rested? Me too. It’s probably because we are trying to use sleep when what we really need is rest. If you know me you know I love my naps but only if they’re productive. Otherwise what’s the point? (besides sneaking in kitty cuddles) We all know self-care is a trendy topic, as it should be, but it is not always easy to understand how to apply that to real life. Did you know there are different types of rest and understanding which ones we need will help us to fill our cups in ways that sleeping alone can’t? Me neither.

I started to wonder what redefining rest looks like and that’s when I stumbled across an article about Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith on the How To Be A Better Human Being blog series via TedX. (Click here to view the series, I highly recommend it.) Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith is brilliant and with her insight we can start to open up the box on what rest looks like under different lenses. It addresses the problem of not feeling rested despite our efforts and I want to share some of the ways I’ve applied those ideas to my daily life. It’s been a game changer my friends. You can see her whole video here but if you’re short on time I’ll sum it up for you. ๐Ÿ™‚


Burnout Signs: You’re feeling fatigued and sluggish. You know you aren’t sleeping enough and your body is kind of achy, not to mention you’re a little moodier than normal. You may have a hard time staying focused and keeping your eyes open.

Ideas to help: If you can sleep, get that beauty rest my friend; however, if you’re like me it’s not always that easy. When I know I need sleep but it just seems to elude me, I’ve taken to calling those ‘down days.’ For me down days look like a day of physical rest with no pressure to sleep and no physical strains on my body. On down days I prioritize upping my fluids and reach for nutrition. Hydrating can do a lot for our health in combatting fatigue and brain fog. Often I feel just as rested on down days than if I had gotten a full nights sleep.


Burnout Signs: You’re feeling mentally ‘full’ and have no energy to work on your spirituality. You may have been doing some personal work and became overwhelmed or you are not leaving enough energy to dedicate to spiritual growth. Personal development becomes a pain point and you avoid it.

Ideas to Help: Spirituality comes in many forms. When I am not feeling motivated to grow, I listen. Connecting spiritually to your surroundings doesn’t always have to be work. Sit outside, meditate on the marvels of nature. Watch Planet Earth II (Hans Zimmer did the soundtrack) and get inspired. Journal about the things you are grateful for. Watch Oprah’s Super Soul Sundays, listen here. Go through some of my favorite and most powerful quotes here.


Burnout Signs: The feeling of being so emotionally overwhelmed that all you want to do is crawl into bed. The drained feeling often experienced after conversational turbulence or after having spent time with someone that is emotionally abusive or draining. The inability to process your feelings any further. You’re not thinking or acting rationally.

Ideas to Help: The first thing I do when I am emotionally overwhelmed is go outside. I prefer the open space to think vs a confined house/room. Often I take off my shoes and socks and plant my bare feet into the ground. Wiggling my toes in the grass takes me out of my head, not to mention the scientific benefits of grounding that you can read more about here. Take time off from social media and people. Listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs. Journaling is also an excellent tool to re-energize you. Get it all out on paper and then burn it. It’s a healing exercise, try it.


Burnout Signs: I like to compare this feeling to the scene in Austin Powers where the Fembot’s head explodes from Austin’s ‘mojo’. Also referred to as cognitive overload, there is a point of overstimulation in our sensory input as well. When we take in too much information at once or are subject to an overwhelming amount of noise, our brains can enter a fuzzy state as it’s trying to process everything. Like the mouse curser that spins in between clicks, it’s catching up. But as our brains catch up, it can take a mental toll on our cognitive abilities.

Ideas to help: As a Highly Sensitive Person, sensory overload is something I deal with often. I am known to retreat during social events so I can quiet my surroundings albeit temporarily. In situations where I can’t leave, for example at a restaurant, I’ve had great success wearing Loop Ear Plugs. They are ear buds specifically made for sensory overload that reduce some frequencies but still allow you to hear. It reduces the amount of overwhelm I’d normally experience because the noise of the restaurant is muffled so I can have a conversation with the person I’m sitting next to without being overstimulated. It’s an elegant solution for sensory overload and you can read more about them here. I cannot rave enough about this product.


Burnout Signs: The ‘if I have to attend on more social gathering I’m going to lose it’ mood. The feeling of not wanting to leave the house or a sense of anxiety before and/or during a group event. You may not know the term energy vampire but you’ve definitely experienced it. These are the people that leave you feeling drained after speaking with them, and this can be experienced from one individual or as a whole in a group setting. If you are an introvert, group settings are especially draining as your preferred method of recharging your batteries includes PJs and time alone. To add, online social apps can have the same draining effects as an in-person meet.

Ideas to help: Learn to say NO. This is hard for me but learning to say NO keeps me from over extending myself just to please someone else. Being home and not feeling any social pressure is well worth the temporary discomfort of telling someone you can’t make it. If you cannot ‘call in sick’ to your next social engagement, I would again recommend the Loop Ear Plugs to avoid overwhelm. Start paying attention to the ‘energy vampires’ in your gatherings and learn to avoid prolonged conversations with them. Intentionally gravitate towards people whom help you to feel energized. Put in some extra time in your self-care routine before a social event so you go into it fully charged. (Get extra rest beforehand or bring a soothing cup of coffee with you.) When it comes to social media, I’d recommend taking Marie Kondo’s approach. Do a deep dive into the accounts you’re following, one by one. If an account doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy, it’s time to lovingly hit that unfollow button. Curate your feed so that it brings you up, not down if that’s a place you spend a lot of time. Pay attention to how accounts make you feel. Share the accounts that do bring you up with your friends so you can spread some love. Add motivation and uplifting accounts to your feed. I recommend: @_hi_anxiety_ @thegoodquote @mindsetofgreatness


Burnout Signs: You don’t seem to feel inspired and when you do create, you aren’t satisfied with your end result. You can’t seem to get into the ‘zone’. You have no urge to create and you feel guilty about that.

Ideas to help: Sometimes when I am in a creative drought I switch forms of creativity. If I’m not feeling inspired to photograph, I will read. If I am uninspired in the kitchen, I will watch foodie shows that spark curiosity (and make me hungry). Sometimes a break entirely is warranted and I’m here to tell you NOT to feel guilty about that. Take some time off and BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF. Learn some new techniques online or go on a hunt for emotional music that seems to stir your soul. Creativity will spark. In the meantime, be patient with yourself and “learn to rest, but don’t quit.”


Burnout Signs: You feel over stimulated with no mental capacity. Taking in more information seems impossible. You crave quiet and just need some time alone. You’ve been forcing your brain to work too hard and it feels like mush. Like you’ve hit a ‘wall’ mentally.

Ideas to Help: This is where mediation comes in. I practice many forms including journaling, letting go of trying to make things ‘perfect’ and jotting down what I’m thankful for. Take a moment to find your stressors and if you can, eliminate them. Ask for help so you have less on your plate. Delegate. Build a support network of friends that you can lean on when you are down. Being a people pleaser absolutely contributes to mental exhaustion. Learn to set boundaries and speak up for yourself so that you are not carrying extra pent up stress unnecessarily. This is one of my favorite books on how to truly love yourself and set boundaries.

Understanding the different types of rest and what they look like is a game changer when it comes to trying to re-energize and love yourself. Self-care is subjective and I hope you can take this knowledge and use it to identify what your body and mind need so you can get back to kicking ass. My final thought on anything that has to do with self-care, and life in general, is to remember you are not alone and to be gentle on yourself. Ditch the guilt and the pressure to do everything. Stop putting yourself last and learn to rest.

So what to you think? Did this help you redefine what rest looks like? Hopefully you are brimming with ideas on how to make these categories suit you so that you can feel recharged. If you have something to add, please comment below. I’d love to start a conversation with you about the different types of rest. ๐Ÿ™‚

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