Corporate culture thrives on high productivity, competition, and achievement. It is what keeps businesses increasing their output and revenue. Everything has to go fast or else companies will get left behind or trampled by their competitors. That is why it is hard to find a company that actually wants to slow down.
In addition, for many companies, productivity comes first before people. As a result, countless employees in the workplace feel chronically tired and burned out. It seems that most people, not just business owners but employees included, think of rest as something counterproductive. Many view rest as a hurdle for productivity. For instance, how many companies do you know that teach their employees how to rest well? Chances are, you know just a few or none at all.
This kind of culture has resulted in employees who are good at work but not at resting. This results in burnout which affects more than just employee health. It also affects other areas of their lives including relationships, finances, mental health, productivity, and work performance. This is why employees need to know how to avoid overworking and recharge their energy levels.
So if companies care very little about rest, whose responsibility is it to teach you how to rest well? Apparently, it is you. Ultimately nobody can do it except you. But if you are naturally competitive and goal-oriented, proper rest might not be in your routine. So how do you really rest?
Perhaps you have tried to rest by getting 8-10 hours of sleep and still feel exhausted. Well, that is because rest is more than just getting enough sleep or not doing anything. In fact, sleep does not always have to do with it. Rest entails becoming restored physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. So you need to know which area you have a rest deficit and learn how to address it.
In her book, The Sacred Rest, Dr. Dalton-Smith shares 7 types of rest that people need and certain activities that fit into those types. It turns out that rest is mostly active, not passive. Meaning, it involves some level of physical or mental activity that restores the body, mind, and soul. Here are the 7 types of rest you need:
1. Physical Rest
Physical rest can be passive or active. Passive rest is the most common type of rest. It is when you get an ample amount of sleep after an exhausting day. There are some ways you can do to sleep better and faster. This includes dimming the lights in your room, putting your phone away, cooling down your room, and listening to music.
On the other hand, active physical rest are activities that improve the body’s circulation and flexibility. As the name implies, it involves doing simple to intermediate activities that restore your physical health. Yoga, stretching, taking deep breaths, and massage therapy are all examples of active rest.
2. Mental Rest
When we are mentally exhausted, it will manifest in our level of concentration. Picture this: Have you ever stared at a single page in a book for 10 minutes and not actually understand anything? Or wrote something down and not remember half of it? When our concentration dulls or often think of negative thoughts, that is a signal to take a mental break. Dr. Dalton-Smith recommends taking short breaks (about 10 minutes) every two hours throughout your workday.
During the break, you can grab a snack, drink some water, take a quick walk, and just relax. This will prepare you for the next two hours of focused work. If you experience a lack of mental clarity, it might help not to check your notifications in the meantime. Frequently checking social media accounts can cause anxiety, loneliness, and depression. There is enough evidence that says excessive use of social media is harmful to our mental health.
Taking a break from your devices or social media (digital/social media detox) doesn’t have to be complete abstinence. It could involve implementing a personal digital curfew where you don’t use your phones on some days. People who have included digital detox in the types of rest they undertake have experienced a variety of benefits. This includes productivity, mental clarity, and a positive mindset.
3. Emotional Rest
Every day, we juggle between work and our personal lives. Oftentimes, our work takes up the majority of our day so work-life balance might not be that easy to achieve. Not to mention unfortunate events that can happen in our lives such as a failed relationship or the death of a loved one. These things can be a cause for emotional exhaustion. Symptoms of emotional exhaustion can range from physical to emotional changes. This includes physical fatigue, headaches, irritability, lack of motivation, and depression.
If you are experiencing any of that, then an emotional rest might be something you need. It does not have to be a vacation. It can be as simple as exercising, eating healthy or getting enough sleep. Another popular way of getting emotional rest is by practicing mindfulness. To address types of exhaustion that are beyond physical, the types of rest must also include forms of relief and relaxation that are likewise beyond physical aspects. Examples of mindfulness that are very doable include journaling, meditation, grounding, and going for a nature walk.
4. Spiritual Rest
After working so hard, you might begin to seek meaning and purpose, or desire connectedness to something beyond yourself. When you want these things, you are likely in need of spiritual rest. You can practice spiritual rest by spending time in prayer, meditating on Scriptures, meditating, or practicing quiet time, to name a few. There are a lot more activities that you can do to practice spiritual rest but the bottom line is it can bring rest and healing to your soul.
5. Social Rest
The types of rest encompass the effort we put into socialization as well. The truth is, not all our relationships are healthy. Some inspire us while others put us down. If you have been a ‘people pleaser,’ perhaps it is time to stop that. It is exhausting trying to please everyone all the time. You do not need to do something extreme to achieve social rest. It can be as simple as catching up with an old friend who is always willing to listen to you. It is also helpful to surround yourself with people who support and bring out the best in you. Meanwhile, you should spend less time with people who are exhausting to hang out with. The earlier you do this, the easier it will be to achieve personal peace.
6. Creative Rest
We all have something we love doing, whether it is collecting plants, singing or writing poetry. But as you move up the corporate ladder, your role could mean more meetings and longer time in the office. This could leave you with so little time to do what used to make you feel most alive and happy. If this is you, then creative rest might just be the rest you need.
Creative rest reawakens the creativity inside of us. This could involve going back to your old hobby or going for a walk. You cannot pour from an empty cup. So doing the things you love without so many rules might just lead to another breakthrough idea. Creative rest can also mean exploring things you have always wanted to do. It could be things like learning how to paint, taking photographs, or writing poems. Any activity that stimulates the right side of your brain can be a form of creative rest.
7. Sensory Rest
Tons of things compete for our attention especially on social media and this can overwhelm our senses. It happens when our brain gets more input than it can process. According to Dr. Dalton-Smith, some of the reasons are bright lights, computer screens, social media, background noise, and multiple conversations we hear all day. When we stimulate our senses to the point that we are no longer aware of our space, then we are likely in need of sensory rest.
Try turning off your screens, turning the lights off, or closing your eyes for a few minutes to relax and reset. You can also try digital or social media detox for a day or week. This could be as restful as taking a vacation.
What Should You Do Now?
When we allow ourselves to rest, we are not just doing it for the sake of productivity at work. Getting the types of rest that we need can benefit other important areas of our lives. However, when we keep draining our emotional and mental energy all the time, our health and relationships can suffer terribly. This is why rest is as non-negotiable as working. So make rest a part of your routine.
Typically, you will need 7-8 hours of sleep regularly. But there is no one-size-fits-all type of answer as to how much you need in each type. But you will know how much you will need by listening to your body, emotions, and thoughts. Remember, rest is about achieving a feeling of restoration. Lastly, when the exhaustion and anxiety caused by lack of rest gets overwhelming, it is best to seek the help of a therapist.