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The Six Types of Rest Everyone Should Have

In our fast-paced, productivity-driven world, the concept of rest often gets overlooked. We tend to equate rest with sleep, but there's so much more to rest than just getting a good night’s sleep. Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a physician and researcher, has identified six distinct types of rest that are essential for a balanced and healthy life. Understanding and incorporating these types of rest can help us recover from the various demands placed on us by modern living.

1. Physical Rest

What it is: Physical rest can be passive or active. Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping, while active physical rest involves restorative activities such as yoga, stretching, and massage therapy that improve circulation and flexibility.

Why you need it: Our bodies need physical rest to repair and rejuvenate. It helps reduce muscle tension, improve mood, and increase overall physical health. Without adequate physical rest, we may experience chronic fatigue, physical pain, and decreased immune function.

How to get it:

  • Ensure you get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Incorporate short naps into your day if you feel fatigued.
  • Practice gentle yoga or stretching exercises regularly.
  • Schedule regular massages or self-massage techniques.

2. Mental Rest

What it is: Mental rest involves giving your brain a break from constant processing and cognitive activity. It includes taking breaks during work, allowing time for mental relaxation, and engaging in activities that calm the mind.

Why you need it: Mental fatigue can lead to decreased productivity, impaired decision-making, and increased stress. Regular mental rest can enhance focus, creativity, and overall cognitive function.

How to get it:

  • Take short breaks throughout your workday.
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation.
  • Engage in activities that relax your mind, such as reading for pleasure or spending time in nature.
  • Avoid multitasking and give yourself permission to focus on one task at a time.

3. Sensory Rest

What it is: Sensory rest involves reducing sensory input from our environment. This includes dimming lights, turning off screens, and retreating from noisy environments.

Why you need it: Continuous exposure to sensory stimuli can lead to sensory overload, which can cause irritability, stress, and fatigue. Sensory rest helps restore your senses and improves overall well-being.

How to get it:

  • Reduce screen time, especially before bed.
  • Create a quiet, calm environment for yourself.
  • Use noise-canceling headphones or earplugs if you’re in a noisy environment.
  • Spend time in nature to balance out the sensory input from urban settings.

4. Creative Rest

What it is: Creative rest involves taking a break from problem-solving and brainstorming. It includes activities that inspire and rejuvenate your creative spirit, such as appreciating art, spending time in nature, or engaging in creative hobbies.

Why you need it: Creative rest is essential for preventing burnout in fields that require innovative thinking and problem-solving. It helps rejuvenate your creative energies and encourages new ideas.

How to get it:

  • Spend time in beautiful, inspiring environments.
  • Engage in hobbies that allow you to express your creativity, such as painting, writing, or playing music.
  • Visit museums, galleries, or attend performances that inspire you.
  • Allow yourself time to daydream and explore new ideas without pressure.

5. Emotional Rest

What it is: Emotional rest involves allowing yourself to be authentic and express your true feelings. It includes taking a break from people-pleasing and emotional labor, and spending time with those who are supportive and uplifting.

Why you need it: Without emotional rest, you may feel overwhelmed, anxious, or burnt out from constantly managing others’ emotions and expectations. Emotional rest helps you feel more balanced, supported, and understood.

How to get it:

  • Set boundaries to protect your emotional energy.
  • Spend time with people who make you feel safe and valued.
  • Practice journaling or speaking with a therapist to process your emotions.
  • Allow yourself to say no and prioritize your emotional needs.

6. Social Rest

What it is: Social rest involves balancing the social demands in your life. It means spending time with people who energize you and limit time with those who drain your energy.

Why you need it: Social interactions can be both energizing and draining. Ensuring you have social rest helps maintain healthy relationships and prevents social burnout.

How to get it:

  • Identify which relationships are supportive and which are draining.
  • Prioritize spending time with positive, supportive people.
  • Take breaks from social media and other social obligations when needed.
  • Seek out social interactions that are fulfilling and energizing.


Incorporating these six types of rest into your routine can dramatically improve your quality of life. It's about recognizing that rest is multifaceted and understanding that each type of rest plays a unique role in our overall well-being. By intentionally seeking out these different forms of rest, you can restore your energy, enhance your productivity, and achieve a more balanced and fulfilling life.


Rest isn't just about sleep; it's about finding balance and giving each part of yourself the break it needs. Embrace these six types of rest, and you'll find yourself more refreshed and ready to take on life's challenges.