During the week I block off an hour for a lunch break. I prepare some healthy food and then make a pot of tea and relax on my sofa with a book for 30 minutes. I’ve come to realise that as well as a good night’s sleep, I also need to plan in some rest each day. With everything I do now online, I found myself sitting for long stretches of time in front of my laptop. It takes a lot of emotional energy to show up and be fully present with people when I am coaching and it takes a lot of creative energy to create content and resources. And I was finding that even after a good night’s sleep, I was often still feeling tired.
I‘ve been consciously integrating more movement into my day but I also came to the conclusion that I need to factor in rest too. And by becoming intentional about it I’ve noticed an impact on my energy levels and my mood as well as my creativity. And this in turn increases my happiness.
The 7 Types of Rest
According to Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith, many people think of sleep and rest as the same thing when in fact they are not. She goes on to suggest that there are 7 types of rest that every person needs:
- Physical rest. This can be passive physical rest like sleeping and taking a nap. Or active through activities that improve our health such as yoga, stretching and massage.
- Mental rest. Such an important one for us when we have busy minds and thoughts. Taking regular breaks throughout the day helps.
- Sensory rest. Switch off completely from gadgets
- Creative rest. Get out into nature to take a break and restore your creativity.
- Emotional rest. We so often pour in to others so make sure you have time and space to process your feelings and nurture yourself.
- Social rest. Make sure you spend time with people who are positive and uplifting.
- Spiritual rest. Make space for activities such as prayer and meditation.
The Reasons We Don’t Rest More
We had a very interesting discussion in the Happiness Club about rest and several people spoke about the reasons they don’t rest enough. Here are some of those reasons. Do any resonate with you?
- Don’t like doing ‘nothing’.
Often we see resting as doing nothing. Let’s be clear. Actively resting is not doing nothing. It usually involves a restorative activity that improves our health and well-being.
- Feel guilty.
Why is it that we feel guilty about resting? If resting is important for our health and well-being then stop feeling guilty about it. Making space to focus on your health and happiness makes you a stronger and happier person, the best version of yourself.
- Too much to do
Our lives are so busy and I know for many it can feel that there are so many other tasks to get done like work, laundry, dishes and cooking that ‘should’ be done instead. Again, not prioritising your health will lead to further problems down the line. Laundry can wait 5 minutes as you meditate.
- Feel you are letting people down.
Making time for yourself can mean setting boundaries and sometimes saying no. This can feel like you are letting other people down. You can still be kind and caring and helpful without running yourself into the ground. It is ok to take some time for physical or emotional rest for yourself so that you are able to be there for others too.
So, how have I incorporated rest into my days, weeks and months? I have been intentional about this and have booked in and planned restful activities in my calendar to ensure every day I am consciously and proactively focusing on my health. As I mentioned, I find chopping my veggies and prepping a healthy lunch a restful break from my laptop. I eat without distractions and then prepare a nice tea and relax on the sofa with a book. I have daily walks in the park next to my house. I practice yoga and pilates several times per week. I take regular movement breaks throughout the day. I keep a notepad next to me to jot down tasks and thoughts as they come into my head so I don’t need to hold them in my mind which helps tremendously with my mental rest. I switch off my devices in the evening. I don’t answer work emails after a certain time and switch off my phone completely by 9pm. I schedule regular social media and device breaks (at Christmas I switched on my out of office notification and took 3 weeks off all my devices and media). I practice daily meditation to allow myself space to process my emotions and feelings and tap into my sense of love and acceptance. And finally, I spend time with amazing people who lift me up and cheer me on.
Restful Activity Ideas
When becoming proactive about rest, think about the kinds of rest you need and what restores you. Look at the list of the 7 types of rest for inspiration. Other suggestions from the free Happiness Club were crafts and hobbies that put us in a flow state- knitting, sewing, jigsaw puzzles, chess, thai chi and colouring books are some great ones. Also volunteering / charity work gives us a sense of meaning and purpose and fulfillment.
Building rest into your day is not doing nothing. It’s something that is essential to our health and wellbeing that we need to get intentional about. It is preventative against exhaustion, depression, overwhelm and eventually burnout. And it is another tool that helps us increase and maintain our happiness. There are loads of suggestions in this post about how to rest. What action can you take right now to build rest into your day?
Want to learn the exact steps to an Intentionally Happy Life? Join me in the Intentional Happiness Circle, a year-long coaching programme that will show you the exact steps you need to take to live intentionally.
Suggested readingsDr. Saundra Dalton-Smith (2019). Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity.
Happiness Evangelist, Life Coach, Best-Selling Author and Speaker with over 30 years of experience, helping you to live a happy and fulfilling life.
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