I recently completed two long and challenging years of graduate school, while also working full-time during the global pandemic. Let’s also layer in caring for a sick parent and working in healthcare. Hello, exhaustion! When I saw a TED article entitled “The 7 Types of Rest that Every Person Needs” my curiosity was piqued, as I recently learned that one type of rest does not fit all.
Prior to both the pandemic and grad school, I thought yoga, sleeping, and watching TV were all I needed to achieve rest. Yet, despite doing all three of these activities, it’s no surprise that I continued to feel fatigued.
Physical rest is just one type of rest, and there are two categories within that – passive and active. Turns out, I was just practicing active rest while performing yoga, and passive rest while sleeping. This still leaves six other types of rest – no wonder I still didn’t feel rested!
Another type is emotional rest. This type of rest applies to everyone. This is the time for others to take care of you, without you needing to do anything in return. I give myself emotional rest by getting a relaxing weekly manicure. I sit in silence in a comfortable chair while someone pampers my hands. I thank her with payment and a tip, and I look forward to the next one. It helps me to have something like this to look forward to each week because I’m giving myself the care and space I need to just be.
Similarly, social rest is giving yourself space to just exist, by surrounding yourself with people who make you feel whole. As an introvert, I look to my best friend for this support. We need to be conscious of creating quality time, since she is a mom with a toddler who lives an hour away, and I live a single life with my dog in the city. The graduate school lifestyle made keeping in contact with friends that I didn’t interact with daily challenging. Once grad school ended, I felt an emptiness in the space my close friends once occupied. I realized that for my well-being, I needed to make the effort.
Mental and sensory rest are two types that I tend to group together, especially as I work in tech. Both can occur at any point during the day, and they don’t have to be saved up for a special occasion. I call mental rest “mindless time,” which is a set time where I let my thoughts wander. This was extremely helpful at work when I had hour-long 7 am international calls twice a week. Once the call was done, I would take a walk, give myself an hour of mindless time, and come back to work. This also counted as sensory rest, as I stepped away from my computer screen to take in nature and outside surroundings. This might also fall under the bucket of creative rest, which is crucial for those of us who solve problems as a key job function. For some, this might look like a walk around the block, sitting near the lake and watching the waves, or a two-week international trip. For others, this might look like taking a pottery or creative writing class. The list is endless, but it’s important to detach in the way that makes the most sense for you.
Finally, spiritual rest is finding a way to connect with something greater than yourself, “to feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance, and purpose.” While I was raised in a religious household, I consider myself spiritual in the ways I seek out deeper meaning and connection. Currently, I meditate and chant a Buddhist mantra for 10 minutes. In the past, I’ve read books and worked on detaching from my anxious thoughts as a spiritual practice. This practice changes, and what works for me is the constant evolution to help keep me connected to something greater than myself.
Sometimes, watching my favorite TV show is a helpful way to achieve emotional and social rest, but it doesn’t meet all my needs. Other times, sitting in my tropical plant room and listening to music while I stare at the ceiling, or meditating and breathing, helps me achieve creative, mental, sensory, and spiritual rest. Then, there are the days when only long walks on the lakefront will do. For me, rest is an evolving practice, and I hope it becomes one for you, too.
Mary DelGrande, MSHM, is a Technical Account Manager with Vitality, and just completed a double Master’s program in Healthcare Management from Indiana University, Bloomington. She is a dog mom, loves drinking copious amounts of espresso coffee, playing tennis on the lakefront, and solo international traveling.