Our bodies need rest to thrive. We know the wide range of health benefits that come from getting a good night’s sleep, but it’s the breaks and rest that come in between that matter, too. When we think of rest, we may automatically think of sleeping, taking a nap, or simply relaxing. Yet, rest goes far deeper than just these actions. It can exist in several different dimensions, depending on what we need.
Why is rest important?
In our younger years, the concept of rest and a good night’s sleep didn’t feel particularly thrilling or appealing, though it’s ultimately necessary. When we say that we need rest, we’re not exaggerating. Quality rest and sleep are essential for optimal function. A good night’s sleep is responsible for several bodily processes and functions, including our ability to learn, process memories, restore our energy, repair our muscle tissue, as well as promoting the release of hormones that influence our growth and appetite.
It’s also vital for productivity, too. When we take breaks to rest, we become more alert, our focus increases, and we feel the additional motivation to complete the task at hand. It can also reduce decision fatigue and procrastination, two roadblocks when it comes to our productivity and creativity.
We know what happens when we don’t get enough rest, too. It affects us physically, mentally, and emotionally. We may feel tired and groggy and face difficulties when we try to concentrate. On a more serious level, habitual lack of rest can cause more severe health issues and put us at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
What are the different forms of rest?
Rest doesn’t have to be taken in just the traditional sense. Getting a good night’s sleep or even taking a nap throughout the day to ease our fatigue isn’t the only way to seek relief. There are several dimensions to rest, including physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and creative rest, with some overlapping over one another.
Other forms of rest will fall under the physical dimension, including sleep and naps. But rest doesn’t have to involve lying down and closing our eyes. We can seek physical rest through physical activity, including our fitness routines, or even just a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood. Exercise may feel like the opposite of rest, but it helps us break out of the monotony or roadblocks we may be facing throughout our days and provides relief from daily stress. Other physical acts of self-care can be helpful, too, including an at-home facial, a long bath, or even something as simple as a hair mask.
When it comes to our mental rest, it’s best to give our minds a break. Put down what you’re working on or walk away from what is causing you distress to make space for yourself. This can be done through a meditation session, tidying up around the house, taking a walk – whatever act brings you a sense of calm and peace.
If you’re feeling emotionally burdened, it’s best to expel the feelings from your body through journaling, a therapy session, or even a quick call to a loved one to talk things out. If we bottle the emotions up, we become anchored by our feelings, unable to get a break or move on.
Spirituality looks different for everybody. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs and practices, allow yourself to become in tune with that inner-aspect of your being. Perhaps, this involves meditation, practicing your religious beliefs, or even a volunteer day. Spirituality is deeply personal, but exploring this aspect of ourselves can be immensely vital to our being.
While creative rest may seem like taking a break from all things creative it can be the opposite. Certainly, for professional creatives, this could be the very thing we need a break from. But for others, finding creative outlets can be the perfect type of rest we need. Listen to your favorite album front to back (bonus points if it’s on vinyl, not digital, to get a break from screens), read a chapter or two (or three…) of the book on your nightstand, or begging to be read on your shelf. Take a moment to journal, whether freestyling or following a daily mantra. Paint, do a craft, whatever invigorates your creativity!