The 7 Types of Rest

Good afternoon mindfull community!

Today we’re going to talk about rest.

Pre-pandemic, there were already discussions of burnout…

But since 2020, we’ve seen a drastic increase in burnout, anxiety, and mental health struggles.

In a survey done by Deloitte 84% of the millennial respondents reported experiencing burnout at their current jobs.

And over 70% of the other respondents reported the same experience.

As I decided to start my first business in the summer of 2019, I was definitely a part of the population experiencing intense burnout.

This catapulted me into my wellness journey, where I learned different meditation techniques, grounding exercises, and ways to be more mindful.

The latest part of this journey has been redefining my relationship with rest.

Growing up, I was taught the importance of naps, meditation, and different forms of rest but I was never very good at any of it.

I was always “time traveling”.

Being mentally in the past or in the future, never “where my feet were”.

One of the latest books I’ve stumbled upon to help me be more present, more energetic, and more rested is “Sacred Rest”  by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, physician, researcher, and founder of Restorasis.

In her book, she elaborates on her “7 Types of Rest” framework.

Let’s talk about it.

The seven types of rest: physical, mental, social, creative, emotional, sensory, spiritual.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith,

1. Physical Rest

This type of rest is the one we are most familiar with. Calming your body and lying down while taking slow deep breaths.

Often times our bodies force us to take this type of rest, whether that is through physical sickness, injury, or breaking down in tears and taking a “Self-care day”.

But how frequently do we incorporate physical rest BEFORE the “check engine light” comes on?

This week I challenge you to take some time during the middle or at the end of your day to turn off your screens, turn down your lights, and do a few relaxing stretches or a body scan.

2. Mental Rest

This type of rest involves quieting all of the constant chatter we experience on a daily basis. Some examples of background noise include:

  • Ruminating - constantly rethinking things in the past.

  • Self-critiquing

  • multi-tasking

  • Remembering to do all of the things on your to-do list

  • Negative self-talk over the things you didn’t get to do on your to-do list

One of the most well-known ways to give yourself mental rest is through guided meditation. When you have a lot of background noise, it can be difficult to do a completely quiet meditation.

 Headspace (7 and 14-day free trial in the hyperlink) and Sabr are two of my favorite platforms for guided meditations.

Here is a free guided meditation from Headspace.

3. Emotional Rest

Emotional rest occurs when “you no longer feel the need to perform or meet external expectations” (Dr. Saundra).

Life can be hard.

Dealing with grief, loss, unmet goals, violated boundaries, etc. when not balanced with reflection, introspection, and grace can lead to shame, fear, and living in a way inconsistent with your values.

This is what Dr. Saundra refers to as an “emotional rest deficit”.

Some examples of this include:

  • Apathy towards things that used to bring you joy

  • Focusing on failures and flaws

  • Beating yourself up over small mistakes

Some tools to practice emotional rest include:

  • Tuning inward during different social situations. Who makes you anxious? Who makes you feel safe? Pay attention to these clues to help foster more emotionally healthy relationships that leave you feeling emotionally fueled and rested.

  • Stopping yourself from getting caught in the comparison trap. Take a break from social media if you need to. Unfollow people whose accounts stir up feelings of insecurity in you.

4. Spiritual Rest

Studies show the benefits that prayer and meditation have on the brain.

When we are not connected to something greater than ourselves, it can lead to feelings of numbness, lack of purpose, and helplessness.

Whether you believe in God, love, or a supreme force that unites all of us, I think you may enjoy this quote from Dr. Saundra’s book as I have:

“What if spirituality is not about learning about religion, but rather about experiencing a relationship?”

Ways to practice spiritual rest include:

  • Journaling

  • meditating on scripture

  • prayer

  • religious services

  • meditating in nature

5. Social Rest

In recent years America has been described as having a “loneliness epidemic”.

Social rest occurs when we experience uplifting and rewarding relationship exchanges.

Interestingly enough, you can be surrounded by people and still experience social dis-ease.

Some signs of social rest deficit include:

  • You feel detached from your loved ones

  • You are attracted to people who mistreat you

  • You isolate yourself from others

  • You prefer online vs in-person relationships

Tools to cultivate social rest:

  • Find your tribe. Consider places like to commune with people with similar interests to you 🙂 

  • Have specified no-screen time with your loved ones

  • Go on tech-free dates with your partner

  • Finally grab coffee with that friend you’ve been talking about grabbing coffee with for 2+ months

6. Creative Rest

This type of rest allows us to focus on our basic need for wonder and childlike curiosity.

If you’re job calls for you to constantly “be in the zone” ie writing, or being a musician or an artist…

Or if you have a life that doesn’t allow for empty space, you can be zapped of your creative energy.

This concept is beautifully captured in one of my favorite quotes:

“The Music is not in the notes but in the silence in between”


Some signs of creative rest deficit:

  • Imposter syndrome, you feel like your work is lackluster

  • Writer’s block

  • You feel selfish when you want to do something for yourself

  • You prioritize others’ needs before your own

Practical tools:

  • Cycle syncing

  • Practicing flow-break rhythm. ~When working try the Pomodoro technique or setting timers.~

  • Time block your schedule! Schedule in “nothing”. I’m so serious, try it…and then actually do something for yourself. Not laundry, not cooking, not emails. Do some self-care you beautiful busy body.

7. Sensory Rest

This overly stimulatory society we live in has made it nearly impossible to disconnect.

Between social media notifications, tv’s in nearly every room, and little ones blasting CoCo melon and Blippi on their tablets, sensory overload is almost inevitable.

Your job can even contribute to sensory overload.

One of my past jobs was at an assisted stretching studio where I would help correct muscular imbalances contributing to different types of chronic pain.

I was touching clients for hours every single day and it quickly became too much.

One of my favorite things to do was to sit in my garage or in the parking lot for 20-30 minutes just doing nothing.

Hearing nothing, and looking at and touching nothing.

This was my method of sensory rest.

Some symptoms of sensory rest deficit include:

  • aversion to loud sounds

  • craving processed foods

  • aversion to touch

  • desensitization to aromas others seem to smell easily

  • inability to enjoy sensory-rich experiences like concerts or fireworks

Some ways to cultivate sensory rest include:

  • sensory deprivation tanks

  • dark/candle-lit showers (proceed with caution)

  • tech sabbaths

If you find yourself struggling with cultivating any of these forms of rest, I hope you received some tools today to help you.

Thanks for reading 🤎 

Better than your best cup of tea: Gems for this week

1. Dr. Saundra’s Ted Talk 🎥 : For my audio learners, here is a brief review of Dr. Saundra’s 7 Types of Rest Framework.

2. Breathwork 🧘‍♀️ : Check out this article to learn 3 breathwork exercises, 2 which are some of my favorite tools in my wellness toolbox.

I pray you all have a week filled with abundant light and radiant health,