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  • Writer's pictureSarah Vizer

The 7 Types of Rest and How They Impact Your Well-being

7 types of rest

Who knew resting is more than just sleep? 

Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith does! She's a physician, researcher, author and speaker who looks at the important topics of wellbeing and work-life integration.  In her book Sacred Rest, she outlines the concept of 7 types of rest that help fully cover the range of rejuvenation activities needed to bring life into balance. 

It’s a wonderful concept that is integral to the art of burnout prevention.  As Arianna Huffington is fond of saying, "Health is the ultimate ROI".  Rest is a non-negotiable when it comes to good health and happy spirits. 

Each of the 7 serves a unique purpose, and here is my take on how they can play out in your life. 

 >>PHYSICAL REST - yes, I think we all get this one!  But in addition to sleep, naps, lying on the couch for a Netflix binge, also consider movement as an option. Stretching, yoga, going for a walk, even getting a massage is a form of physical release.

 >>MENTAL REST- taking a load off mentally is more than just meditation and mindfulness (although this plays a part).  This is simply about quieting a busy mind, finding peace however that works for you.

I use a hot drink in my hand as the trigger to take in the moment and relax for a minute or two, putting down the phone or other device - no easy feat.  You can also try music, sensory deprivation, reading, podcasts - whatever allows you to switch off that busy, grinding mind and focus on the present moment.

 >>EMOTIONAL REST - take a break from the emotional demands of life!  Tough to do when life is GO-GO-GO, this is about allowing yourself to feel and process emotions, even stepping away from emotionally draining situations.  And please, please, please … let’s all ditch the people pleasing!

Sometimes you need time alone to understand what is going on inside that busy head of yours and a journal can help.  Talking it out is also useful, especially if it allows honest expression of your more complex feelings.  This type of rest improves your emotional intelligence, as well as helping access an inner peacefulness.

>>SENSORY REST - getting less obvious now, modern life is just a constant bombardment of noise, images, demands, and stimulation.  Taking a sensory break can be as simple as dimming the lights, closing your eyes, or no screens for a while.  Instead, you might read a book, take a bath, listen to music, breathe deeply, get out and enjoy nature or just sit in peace and stillness for a few moments.  And yes, we’re all still a work-in-progress when it comes to our phone addictions!

Take a moment now to sit comfortably and close your eyes.  You may tune into your other senses, noticing what you can hear, feel, taste, and smell. See how you feel after sitting for a few precious seconds, how in-tune and relaxed you start to feel. 

 >>CREATIVE REST - Do you routinely need to solve problems or brainstorm new ideas? 

If so, you will know the need to disengage from constantly producing, rather allowing your mind time to wander.  We all need this time which is when you start to engage with the world in a way that inspires - appreciating nature, art, and even the beauty that surrounds you. 

For many, creative rest involves diversifying their lives beyond being just work and home. This can involves engaging in hobbies such as cooking, sport, arts and crafts, book clubs, writing, a side business … whatever gives you a sense of creative freedom. 

 >>SOCIAL REST - we’ve all experienced the stress and energy drain that can come with everyday interactions.  This type of rest is not just spending time alone, but also about how to engage more with your positive influences and less with the more draining ones.   

This becomes a balancing act of maintaining social boundaries, but also staying connected with others.  It starts with understanding WHEN you need time with others and time out for yourself.  It’s also about WHO feels positive and supportive. Just as stress is catching so too is a positive attitude.  Building your team of strong, fulfilling relationships can exponentially improve your outlook on life.

 >>SPIRITUAL REST - more than what you can see and touch, this form of rest is about connecting with what gives you a sense of belonging, purpose, and perspective on life.  How rewarding does it feel to do a task that's worthwhile versus another that's just mundane. It's that feeling we're chasing with this type of rest.

Different for everyone, you can feel this through one or more of the following: Doing the work you love - either as a hobby or job.  The friends and family you have around you. 

Meditation, prayer or some other type of spiritual practice.  Being in nature. Being part of various communities. 

What else works for you?

So that's all 7 types of rest. Can you see why you can’t just have a good sleep or go on a holiday to feel fully rested, particularly after a sustained period of stress and burnout? There are all these other methods of building the rest that you need into your daily, weekly and monthly schedule.

Now here’s the twist…

Rest can be a slightly misleading word in this context, as it may be that you need LESS or MORE of each of the 7. 

Some examples of this:

  • When you need LESS MENTAL REST - We’re not always overloaded mentally. You might be reaching for your phone because you crave mental stimulation.  Finding peace in your mind can be about engaging with something interesting and new rather than taking a break completely. 

  •  When you need MORE CREATIVE REST - A relentless focus on productivity can lead to little time and energy left over for anything remotely creative.  When you feel starved of creativity, you’ll find relief by spending time on the hobbies or creative pursuits that spark up that sense of awe and inspiration.

  • When you need LESS SOCIAL REST - Introverts might like more time in their cave, but extroverts (or ambiverts) might need more social occasions spread throughout their week.  Even something booked for the future that you look forward to can have a positive effect. This is about finding the energy boosting positive occasions that leave you feeling on a high. 

Within all the 7, there’s a time for LESS and a time for MORE! 

For the first half of this year, I’ve had time off writing - no books, no blogs, no articles, no creative pursuit of any kind.  I enjoy writing but needed the break after producing the content for a book out of my brain over the past year!  But considering this twist, writing a book also gave me creative rest I needed from my day-to-day coaching practice. 

A final note about rest… 

Rest is not optional, and it doesn’t necessarily happen organically.  Some of these 7 will need you to focus on them, to work at them, to think hard about them, in order to ensure they happen.

My version of burnout prevention is all about using your schedule to factor in the things that matter.   Part of this is the good old energy equation - What gives you more energy than it requires?

Keeping yourself energy positive is all about utilising these 7 each and every week.


About the author

Sarah Vizer - Leadership and Mindset Coach

Sarah Vizer is the creator of Beyond Burnout and an expert at rest!

As a Leadership and Mindset Coach she can also help you build more rest into your week.

Find out more at


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