Most of us enter a new year with a commitment and determination to make overall improvements that lead to enhanced well-being. Recently, I viewed a Ted Talk featuring Saundra Dalton-Smith MD. Dr. Dalton-Smith provided a guide on how individuals can correct the chronic issue of a lack of on-going energy. I’ve included some highlights from the transcript of the talk and the link to the full talk. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to watch Dr. Dalton-Smith clarify why we continue to struggle with obtaining rest and restorative sleep in this country.
Rest should equal restoration in seven key areas of your life.
The first type of rest we need is physical rest, which can be passive or active. Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping, while active physical rest means restorative activities such as yoga, stretching and massage therapy that help improve the body’s circulation and flexibility.
The second type of rest is mental rest. Schedule short breaks to occur every two hours throughout your workday; these breaks can remind you to slow down. You might also keep a notepad by the bed to jot down any nagging thoughts that would keep you awake.
The third type of rest we need is sensory rest. Bright lights, computer screens, background noise and multiple conversations — whether they’re in an office or on Zoom calls — can cause our senses to feel overwhelmed. This can be countered by doing something as simple as closing your eyes for a minute in the middle of the day, as well as by intentionally unplugging from electronics at the end of every day. Intentional moments of sensory deprivation can begin to undo the damage inflicted by the over-stimulating world.
The fourth type of rest is creative rest. This type of rest is especially important for anyone who must solve problems or brainstorm new ideas. Creative rest reawakens the awe and wonder inside each of us.
This fifth type of rest is emotional rest, which means having the time and space to freely express your feelings and cut back on people pleasing. Emotional rest also requires the courage to be authentic. An emotionally rested person can answer the question “How are you today?” with a truthful “I’m not okay” — and then go on to share some hard things that otherwise go unsaid.
If you’re in need of emotional rest, you probably have a social rest deficit too. This occurs when we fail to differentiate between those relationships that revive us from those relationships that exhaust us. To experience more social rest, surround yourself with positive and supportive people.
The final type of rest is spiritual rest, which is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose. To receive this, engage in something greater than yourself and add prayer, meditation or community involvement to your daily routine.
Lastly Dr. Dalton-Smith shared, “sleep alone can’t restore us to the point we feel rested. So, it’s time for us to begin focusing on getting the right type of rest we need.” Indeed doctor, indeed.
Lauren F. White, LCPC