You can (and should!) rest in 7 ways.

University of Leeds
5 min readAug 18, 2022

It is not enough to lie down and do nothing to rest and relax. Humans are complex being and we need to reset on many levels to feel our best. Read on to learn how to do it.

But first, why we need to rest?

42% of time or 10,8 hours a day — this is how much each of us should spend relaxing and resting. If we don’t do that on a regular basis, we might start developing symptoms such as feeling constantly exhausted, low mood, decrease in cognitive abilities and problems with memory, headaches, muscles and joint pains, hormonal imbalances and many others.

On the other hand, thanks to appropriate amount and quality of rest time, we can be more creative, productive and resilient, we can make decisions easier, we memorise things better and slower processes of aging.

7 kinds of rest

Of course, it is rather unlikely that many of us can designate 10 hours a day to relax, but the more intentional your time off is, the better results you can get, regardless of time. To reset in an effective way, it is worth to include these seven forms of rest:

  1. Physical rest
A group of people practicing yoga.

This most obvious form of rest is about resting your body. But it is worth noticing that even this simplest form of rest has its varieties. It could be divided into passive and active rest. Passive rest doesn’t involve engaging in any demanding activities or exercising but it could mean a lot of sleep. Active rest includes things like stretching, yoga or walking. These two forms of physical rest together will let your body regenerate fully.

2.Mental rest

If you started to experience problems with concentration or keep forgetting things, or if you can fall asleep because of racing thoughts, it might be time to for more mental rest. Mental rest is the time when you give your brain time to process information, make connections and consolidate memories. To do that, restrict the amount of time you use your phone etc., you can go for a walk or engage in other physical activities that doesn’t require much mental effort, you can also try mindfulness of meditation.

3.Social rest

A group of people at the table outdoors talking.

Spend some time with people who bring the feeling of harmony, peace, safety and fun in your life. Cultivating meaningful relationships with others improves the sense of wellbeing, strengthens self-esteem and reduces stress. Next time you plan your week, prioritise meeting with a friend, a family member or a date.

4.Spiritual rest

It doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with religion. Essentially, spiritual rest is a reflection on your system of beliefs and your values. It’s easy to do things automatically in everyday life. However, if these things do not align with our values or do not bring us closer to our goal, we might feel frustration or burn-out. Give yourself time to think about the place you are now and if this is where you want to be.

5.Sensory rest

Landscape

You might have heard about sensory overload — a situation when your senses take in more information than you can process. This high input of stimuli causes your brain to enter into fight, flight or freeze mode, when you might feel panicked, anxious or unsafe. To give your senses a little bit of rest, spend some time with a minimum number of stimuli: take a walk in nature, take a short break from studying or work with your eyes closed or looking in the distance, decrease the amount and intensity of light in the evenings, avoid listening to loud music.

6.Emotional rest

Emotional rest means giving yourself space to feel your feelings and express them in a meaningful way. You can talk to someone you trust, or if there’s no one like that in your life right now, you can try journaling. Regular journaling helps to systematise issues, anxieties and worries and pin-point symptoms that lead to deterioration of mental health. There’s many journaling prompts that can be helpful in processing your feelings. Try this one or this one.

7. Creative rest

Artist palette and a painting brush held by a person.

Creative rest is the openness for experiencing beauty and variety. You can suspect you need more creative rest, when you feel like you’re less innovative, you have a hard time making decisions, problem-solving or brainstorming. You don’t have to be an artist to be creative: you can go to new places, try new foods or implement new self-care activities.

We often disregard the need for rest, because there’s so much to do. But it is necessary to keep you going and to enjoy your life. You don’t have to take months of rest or practice every single type of rest to get effects. You can choose one or two things that need your attention the most and focus on that. What you need is a strategy of simple things you could do every day without limitations. It is better to do small things for yourself than to do nothing.

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