How Do I Rest — Really? Understanding the 7 Types of Rest
With Barbara Powell, MA, NBC-HWC
Season 7, Episode 13 | November 7, 2023
Rest is essential to our health and wellness, yet it often gets pushed to the side in favor of other things that require our time and attention. Importantly, it’s not just physical rest we need: There are six other types that contribute to our overall well-being.
In this episode, Barbara Powell, MA, NBC-HWC, joins us to first explain the signs and symptoms of under-rest to watch for. She then delves into the seven versions of rest we need, and for each, the micro, macro, and habitual ways we can get more rest so we can perform better and live life more fully.
Barbara Powell, MA, NBC-HWC, is a holistic coach with Life Time Mind, a performance-coaching program at Life Time.
The seven types of rest Powell explains in this episode are based on the work of Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, physician and author of Sacred Rest. The seven types of rest include the following:
- Physical rest. This is probably the type that comes to mind when most of us think of rest. It’s the need to recharge the body through sleep or gentle movement.
- Mental rest. This is giving yourself the opportunity to slow down your thoughts and settle your mind when you’re feeling bogged down or bombarded.
- Emotional rest. Distinct from mental rest, this comes from more of a heart-centered place: Do you feel like you’re authentically seen? Do you have a heartfelt connection to the important people in your life?
- Social rest. In this area, rest does not look like going inward and disconnecting from others, but rather having an awareness of your energy. For instance, are you spending time with supportive, loving people who revive your energy rather than with people who demand or deplete your energy?
- Spiritual rest. This is the opportunity to step outside of ourselves, pop the “bubble” we live in, and become part of something bigger and mightier.
- Sensory rest. Every day, we need to access all five of our senses. But if you stay in one sensory experience for too long (e.g., using your eyes to look at a computer screen all day), it can be fatiguing. It can also feel draining when you’re not accessing parts of the sensory experience during everyday actions (e.g., eating too quickly and not tasting your food).
- Creative rest. As human beings, we are innately creative, yet we can easily lose touch with this part of ourselves as the responsibilities and to-dos of daily life take priority. It’s important to understand that creativity comes in many forms and can be as simple as taking time to appreciate beauty, art, and nature.
- Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s Rest Quiz
- What Is Self-Care, Really? With Brie Vortherms, MA, LMFT, and Barbara Powell, MA
- How Awe Can Create a Greater Sense of Happiness
- How to Experience More Awe
- Why Sleep and Stress Management Are Non-Negotiables With Henry Emmons, MD
- How to Become a Digital Minimalist
- Tips and Strategies to Help You Tap Into Your Creativity
- Opening Up to Vulnerability With Barbara Powell, MA
- All in on Running
- @barbarapowellruns on Instagram
- Barbara Powell on Linkedin
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Transcript: How Do I Rest — Really? Understanding the 7 Types of Rest
Season 7, Episode 13 | November 7, 2023
Welcome to Life Time Talks, the podcast that’s aimed at helping you achieve your health, fitness, and life goals. I’m Jamie Martin, Editor in Chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole life health and fitness magazine.
And I’m David Freeman, director of Alpha, one of Life Time’s signature group training programs. We’re all in different places along our health and fitness journey, but no matter what we’re working toward, there are some essential things we can do to keep moving in the direction of a healthy, purpose-driven life.
In each episode, we break down various elements of healthy living, including fitness and nutrition, mindset and community, and health issues. We’ll also share real inspiring stories of transformation.
And we’ll be talking to experts from Life Time, and beyond, who will share their insights and knowledge, so you have the tools and information you need to take charge of your next steps. Here we go.
Welcome back to Life Time Talks. I’m Jamie Martin, and in this episode, I’m flying solo. My cohost, David Freeman, is not here with me today, but I’m really excited about our guest. You have heard from her before, Ms. Barbara Powell is with us, and we are talking about the importance of rest and recovery.
It’s something that is critical to our health and wellbeing, yet it’s one of those things that’s really easy to set aside, to do other things instead of, because there’s always something that needs to be done, and I, for one, am one of those people who find taking time to rest really difficult. So, I’m really excited about this conversation. Barbara, thanks, so much, for being here.
I am thrilled to be back. Thanks for having me.
Oh, you’re so welcome. We’re happy to have you. So, a little bit about you. You are a national board-certified integrative health and wellbeing coach, and your coaching supports personal and professional growth, holistic wellbeing, increasing positive outlook, and enhancing mental performance through mindfulness. Barbara is also an endurance runner and creative writer. So, Barbara, before we jump in, tell us a little bit about how you’re doing right now. How are you today?
Oh my gosh. Well, today, you happened to catch me at a really exciting moment. I have one week to go until I run the Leadville 100 trail race in Leadville, Colorado, and I find myself in a state of I have to purposefully prioritize rest. I have to purposely take good care of myself as I taper and get my body and mind right. So, this is actually like the juiciest conversation to have, in this moment in time, for me. So, I’m excited.
Well, one, I’ve been following your journey towards this race, and I am so, so, so excited, and I know it’s been so inspiring to see how you are finding the balance between, you know, the training, and the rest, and the self-care, and how you do that. So, we’ll get to where people can follow you and be able to do that and kind of follow your journey later.
But there is also content about your journey at ExperienceLife.LifeTime.Life that I want to point people to, as well, but for now, we’re going to focus on that rest, why it matters, and that’s what we’re going to dive into, right away. So, from a high level, let’s start off by having you explain like why rest is so important to our health and wellbeing?
Yeah. You know this work that we’re going to dive into today, or this topic of rest, we’re actually going to really frame it around what’s known as like the seven types of rest, and this is the work that is done by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith. She wrote this incredible book called Sacred Rest, and in this, in her work, she identifies these seven different areas that we’re typically depleted in, in one way or another.
So, all of us, no matter what it is we’re doing in our day-to-day life, we have cues that our body will send to us, that our mindset will send to us, that will signal what kind of rest we might need, and when we learn these cues, they tend to be really remarkable signs that point us toward how to take really good care of ourselves.
So, as we go along, you know, when we look at rest, it’s almost as though we get to acknowledge that there really are different levels and types of rest here. I love to frame things up as micro-habits or micro ways of doing things, habitual, and then macro, and so, when we look at a micro recovery or a micro portion of rest for ourselves, this is something that’s like really accessible.
We’re in the swing of our day. We’re moving through our busyness, and we can do something that’s like a quick hit to be able to give ourselves some sort of mental, emotional, physical boost, whatever it may be. It’s something we can do immediately. Then we have these habitual forms of rest, and this is something that, you know, we incorporate pretty regularly into our lifestyle.
This is something in which we do on the day-to-day, or the week-to-week, to really be supportive, give ourselves foundational moments for rest and recovery, and then, finally, there’s these opportunities for what are called macro versions, and macro is like, okay, this is something bigger that I can try.
It’s something that takes a little more time, a little more space, and it may have like a bigger impact on what I might need, again, for the type of rest that I’m looking for. So, again, when we’re looking at rest, the goal of all of this, really, is to help each and every one of your listeners here to not just perform well but to live life fully, which I think we all want, because the benefits of rest, right, they’re profound.
You know, like thinking through, if you imagine a moment of your life where you really felt rested, and it’s profound. I mean anything from how we perform at work or in our day-to-day lives, for athletic endeavors, you know, to our mental wellbeing, our bandwidth, what we have available for ourselves and to give to others. Restfulness impacts our happiness levels, our feelings of joy and wellbeing. It helps us to have potential longevity in our lives, right.
And then we even think about the lower physical hits, then, we might get in our day-to-day life, because we all have stressful circumstances that we get pulled into, and so, having a rest plan or being really purposeful about our rest can help us build that resiliency, right, to move through our day to day lives. So, honestly, it’s an essential topic. I like to say that rest is really a birthright. We all have the ability to access it, and it’s needed, honestly, in our ever-moving, stress-filled modern life.
Yes, and you know, there’s so much in that, and I know we did talk a little bit about the micro/macro and habitual habits in the self-care episode. So, I want to refer people back to that, as well, because that was really important, but one thing you just said in there that is so essential, like, this is our birthright, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or something that like is simple for us to do.
It seems like it should be, like rest. It seems like, oh, I can go, physically, I can go and rest, and I think of like taking a nap as rest, right, but to your point, it’s something that does need to be plan-ful and something that probably needs to be practiced, and we’re going to get into that with each of the different types of rest that we’re going to talk through.
So, let’s do that. I mean, and I do know, first, before we get into that, there are a few questions that you want listeners to have in mind as you’re running through this list, and so, let’s go through those quickly, and then we’ll get to the seven types of rest.
Oh my gosh. Yes. I think one of the ways in which we can really absorb information that we either listen to, or read, or receive from other individuals, is to have really important questions, right, like just in the back of our minds, as we absorb it. So, as you’re listening, think through, well, as I’m hearing these types of rest, which one am I actually best at? Which one am I able to do well and often?
And then what type of rest do I easily neglect? What actually isn’t easy for me to access? And then thinking through, okay, well, what then? What are my cues? What are the things that cue me that I might be in need of a certain type of rest, right? And so, as you ask yourself these questions, you can slowly start to build, well, this might be my plan, my macro habitual and micro ways of integrating these important types of rest for me.
I love that. I love giving people, up front, like these things to consider as we go through this list. So, and I think one thing similar to when we did the self-care episode, too, is like some of these things in the list might surprise you as types of rest to consider. So, keep that in mind.
Keep an open mind as we go through, because I know I was surprised when I initially heard you speak on this. So, let’s get into it. Let’s go through what are the seven types of rest, and then we’ll dive into the first one after that.
Oh, brilliant. Yes. So, there are seven types of rest here. So, we have physical, which is the type of rest that most of us think about when we think of rest, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, sensory, and creative. So, as you think about these seven types of rest, or hear these seven types of rest, what I really appreciate about the work that Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith does it that she frames it up that these types of rest are like a banquet, or like a smorgasbord, right, that you have access to, that there really are many types of dishes and varieties, many types of tastes and flavors.
And you really do get to sample, hey, you know what, this season of my life, this tastes good to me right now, or hey, you know what, I know I actually need a few more nutrients, so I have to pull in a few other dishes here to really complete my meal. So, as we pull back and look at all seven types, I don’t want folks to feel overwhelmed that they have to integrate all seven in all different kinds of ways. You really do get to pick and choose what flavors, what dishes, are really going to work and support you, right now, in your “nutritional rest.”
Oh, I love how you just brought that back to one of our core pillars at Life Time, nutrition. Okay. So, let’s kick off right off the bat. Let’s start with physical rest, what it is, what it looks like, and then let’s also get into like the signs that you might be depleted in this space.
Oh my gosh. Of course. So, physical rest, like I mentioned, is typically what comes to mind, right, when we think about rest, and it’s really when we have this need to recharge the body through sleep, through gentle movement. It’s like I just need to lay down, or I need to be more gentle with my body, right? And there are some pretty strong signs, right, that we’re depleted in this arena, and it may be that we have, you know, physical aches in our body.
We can feel the weariness, right, just in our bones, in our muscles, and then it may even impact our mentality, you know, if you find yourself in a state of moodiness, right, or irritability, it may be a sign of that physical rest is needed, and there are really accessible ways of doing this, right?
So, this micro way, this really small-dose way, it may look like just a simple minute of stretching, of acknowledging your aches and pains when you’re sitting at your desk at work, I don’t know, right, and giving yourself an opportunity to do a shoulder roll, right, to massage your hands, to stretch out the legs, get into downward dog, doing something really simple.
When you move into the habitual physical rest, again, like, acknowledging what can I do for my body on the day-to-day, a consistent bedtime goes such a long way, and I know Dr. Henry Evans does such amazing work in this department, but getting to bed within that hour range, you know, every night, and really prioritizing sleep can be one of the best ways to get this physical rest. And then, finally, there’s these like bigger ways, of course, that we can get physical rest, and it’s like this…I like to call it a permission slip, giving yourself a permission slip to be either lazy.
Or you know, you can look at it as like revitalizing yourself, and this could be something like, you know what, I’m going to take a whole weekend, and that’s going to be my at-home spa weekend, and I’m going to lay low and take good care of my body, laying on the couch with a book, having a yoga practice that you elongate throughout your weekend, just giving yourself a full breadth of moments that’s going to be gentle attention to the body.
I love that one. It reminds me, there was an article we did in Experience Life, several years ago. It was called The Art of Doing Nothing, especially with that kind of the macro, like the importance of giving ourselves not just 5 minutes or 10 minutes, and those are important, too, like you’ve said.
Micro and habitual are important, but also it’s okay to spend time, a weekend or taking a vacation, like, that is just meant to relax and rejuvenate. So, but I love that idea of the art of doing nothing, when it’s like, oh, it always feels like we should be doing something. Number 2 is mental rest.
Which actually clicks in so nicely to the statement you just…like, we always feel like we have to be doing something, and like where does that come from? This is our mental activity that’s being prompted by influence by our day-to-day lives. So, it behooves us to be able to take a mental rest, from time to time, too, so that we can recover and then get back into our day-to-day lives.
So, mental rest, what that looks like, I mean, it’s giving yourself the opportunity to slow down your thoughts, you know, getting those mental processes settled, put to the side for a moment, and this can be pretty challenging to do in such a mind-focused society, you know? Our thoughts and our mind-power has a lot of emphasis put on it.
So, it really takes concerted effort, right, to say I’m willing and I am open to settling my mind, and you might notice that you’re depleted here because you might have like what we call a ping-pong mind, right, and it’s like my thoughts are here, then there, then there, and there can be that sense of overwhelm with that. It may impact how you sleep. So, you may be super intentional about getting that physical rest, but mental rest might actually be a priority before that because that need for mental rest is getting in the way of your sleep habits.
And then, finally, you might find yourself having like an inability, really, to focus on one thing, of feeling drained in your energy, mental energy and focus being pulled in several different directions. So, this is you. I know it’s me, from time to time. So, if this is you, there are ways, right, of approaching this and saying I choose to be restful here, and one of the small mighty ways that we can take a mental break throughout the day is the mindfulness practice that I feel like I teach almost all of my clients.
It’s called meet your feet, and it’s allowing yourself to get out of your mind and just notice where are my feet right now? And I notice them on the ground. Are there any sensations in my feet that I’m aware of? You might experience tingling or warmth. You might roll your toes, a bit, right? Bringing such concentration to the feet can help ground you, really quick and really easy, which goes into, you know, habitually, when we’re taking really good care of our mind, this might look like a mindfulness practice, like 10 minutes of quiet time in the morning, for example, of following your breath.
And if you want to bring this into a larger scheme or that macro way, giving yourself an opportunity to take a mental vacation. I mean giving yourself a chance to perhaps turn off your notifications on your phone, if possible, and allowing yourself to be immersed in what we call flow.
And so, this is anything that’s going to connect you to your body or to your heart. It could be a day of paddle-boarding, right, or a long hike at a local trail, or even volunteering, like, getting outside of your own head, getting outside of yourself, and getting immersed into the lives of helping others can be such a supportive way to have that mental rest for ourselves.
I absolutely love those examples. When I read that and I heard you say that initially, I was like mental vacation? Like, how do I take a break from my mind? Like, I needed actual concrete examples, and those are, they’re awesome, and I love the idea of the volunteer because it really is like taking yourself out of the normal day-to-day of what you’re doing and experiencing others. It’s a mind-opening experience and an eye-opening experience, in many cases. All right, number 3, emotional rest, which sometimes I feel like people, like, well, what’s the difference between mental and emotional?
Oh, love that question. Yeah. Emotional rest, so, when we think of mental, it really is, like, what’s going on between my ears, in my mind, like am I bogged down mentally, thought bombardment, right, whereas emotional, if you really are tuned into it, it’s a heart-centered place. There can be this, you know, when I think of emotional, the need for emotional rest, it’s like have I been authentically seen? Do I feel heartfelt connected to what I call the VIPs, the very important people of my life, right?
Am I able to entrust my way of being, who I authentically am, with another person? And there really is this felt difference between the mental arena and this emotional one. So, when we are depleted in this emotional department, you know, we might actually have this amplified feeling of, oh, gosh, like self-doubt or feeling as though we’re being consistently judged, perhaps, by others.
We might be stuck in this mode of, hey, like, I am constantly giving, and I don’t feel like I’m receiving, and that feels exhausting. We might feel like an actual ache in our heart. You know we think of like that loneliness ache. I think that’s pretty familiar for all of us. We might feel that pretty drastically, or pretty strongly, and that can feel tiring. So, when we’re clued and cued into that, we can take such tender care of ourselves.
This is actually one of my favorite types of rest to work with clients on because it can’t be so easily stepped over, because there’s so many things calling for our attention in our day-to-day life, but ways that you can tend to your emotional wellbeing, in a very small way, is actually to catch your comparing mind, to catch your comparisons. It can be really emotionally draining to be comparing your work life, your home life, your house, your body, to other people.
And what this does is, yeah, it takes hits at our heart, at how we feel about ourselves, about our authentic way of showing up in the world. So, I call this a micro rest because when you catch your comparing mind at the moment, you get to give yourself a loving response instead. So, if you catch yourself comparing your body to someone else’s, you get to notice that, catch it, and then say something loving or have something loving be said to your own body.
A habitual way of emotional recovery or rest is having a therapist, a counselor, a pastor, a social worker, a coach, someone that you can go to regularly to be able to what I call dump the bucket, right? Take what’s going on in your life and say can you please see me, can you witness me, and what it is that I’m experiencing, and this could actually be a really good friend, too, you know? It could be a friend or a parent, just someone, that VIP person that you can share your heart to.
And then, finally, again, the bigger way of doing this may be getting yourself out on a retreat with like-minded people. You know I have had extraordinary experiences, personally, of going on mindfulness retreats or yoga retreats and just connecting with individuals where you didn’t know each other before that trip, but there’s like this authentic opening, this vulnerability and sharing that can take place over the course of…whether it’s a weekend or a week, whatever it may be. So, that could be really helpful in this department.
As an enneagram 2 dominant here, this one resonates really closely to me. Like, I felt that in the heart, right, like seeing, oh, yes, all of these things, these are opportunities, right? So, all right, number four is social rest.
Yeah, social rest. So, it’s so interesting, when you hear that term, social rest, what might pop into the mind initially. I know when I first heard this, I was like, oh, social rest, that’s where I cocoon up in my blankets, in bed, and just like turn off the whole world, and get to be all by myself.
You go introverted all the way.
Introversion all the way, right, and it’s actually the opposite of that. You get to ask yourself the question, hey, am I spending time with supportive, loving people, who actually revive my energy, right? Or perhaps am I spending time with people who are pulling, tugging, demanding, taking my energy?
And that’s like one of the significant signs that we’re depleted in the social rest area, when we know, hey, like, my day-to-day is filled with extending myself to others in a way that like it actually doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel purposeful. It feels draining. So, we can have this deep like actual inner knowing of, oh, wow, yeah, I’m not getting those needs met. I’m actually feeling pretty depleted when I’m around these individuals.
So, when we engage in social rest, this might be something as simple as, oh, getting a good hug from the right person, right? I know I’ve worked with people in the past in which like, oh, on a tough work day, getting a good hug from them is like the best, and maybe just shooting a quick text to a friend, you know, of acknowledging, like, hey, I’m thinking of you, so that you can receive that back from them.
Or it may be just, hey, you know what, for this week, I’m sending one email a day to someone that I really appreciate and that I’m thankful that they’re in my life, because they really give back to me, and that can be such a rewarding series of micro-experiences. A habitual way to do this is the realm of boundary-building, right, and boundary-creation, which is saying no to say yes.
So, this may be where you acknowledge like, whoa, okay, I actually get to say no to this social obligation or this thing that I think I “should” be doing, so that I can say yes to, I don’t know, perhaps a date night with my partner that’s going to actually feel way more fulfilling, or time with my kids on the beach at the lakeside, like, because that’s going to feel like it’s going to ignite my soul. So, we can purposely choose to say no and practice saying no so that we can say yes.
That can be so hard, but it is so important. It is a skill to practice.
Very much so, and I think it’s a muscle, right, that we get to build. So, the first few times we say no might feel really icky and actually might not feel restful, but over time, it’s like the integrating that into how you show up in the world, and it can really shift your experience of what it feels like to say no in order to say yes. And then this larger way of creating social rest is really acknowledging do I have purposeful community that I’m a part of, a community that I’m not just giving to, they are giving to me, as well, right?
There’s this beautiful back and forth of supportive energy there, and I mean, for me, it’s found in running groups as well as like the coaching communities, but for folks, this could be found in churches, in neighborhood groups, workplace affinity groups are an amazing opportunity for this, too. Where do I really feel seen and met, and where do I also see and meet other people? Again, that back and forth.
Yeah, and it really is mutual, right? It’s not one way or the other.
Very much so.
Okay. Rest type number five is spiritual rest. Let’s delve into that one.
Spiritual rest. You know it’s so curious. Sometimes we hear spiritual or spirituality and might have an aversion or a certain feeling about it. So, I just want you to notice that, whatever might be coming up in you around this phrase, but we’re all in need of spiritual rest, from time to time, and what it really is, is this opportunity to step outside of ourselves. I mean our lives are typically this lovely little bubble that we live in, and we so deserve to pop that bubble and to become and be part of something bigger, mightier than our mere selves.
And one of the most tangible ways of doing this is through the art of awe, good old-fashioned awe. Even saying the word awe like makes you feel a certain way, but signs that you might be depleted in spiritual rest is really interesting. Like, you might be experiencing a sense of like tunnel vision, again, that bubble of like there are very important things that are right here, right in front of me, now, and they take a lot of energy, and there’s this inability, maybe, to see the broader vision, right, the bigger picture.
So, that awareness of that, of like, oh, I’ve been in tunnel vision lately, you may be feeling a sense of like I feel just disconnected, like, what am I even a part of? What’s important, right? We might be asking ourselves some of these pretty big life questions that can be a prompt towards spiritual rest, and then alongside that can be this feeling of lack of purpose, actually, can feel pretty strong, again, of like what is the purpose, what’s the point, right?
Like, these big questions that when we ask these questions, we really feel it in our bodies and our hearts. So, those are all really significant cues toward I am so deserving of spiritual rest, right now, and you get to. So, a micro way of approaching spiritual rest can be a one-minute awe break.
So, just like we would take a one-minute stretching break for our physical body, this is a one-minute break for your soul, like a stretch-break for your soul of can I notice, just for a moment, the fact that I have breath moving through my body, and I don’t even have to think about it, and breath comes and goes and takes care of me. Like, when we really stop and drop into the miracle of our body, there’s so much accessible awe there that we can grab onto.
And it’s with us all the time, really. Like, it’s with us.
All the time. All the time. Like, I love to think about the fact that like all the cells that I have in my body are just…I don’t have to tell them what to do. They are just operating, doing their thing. So, we can drop into awe really easily by just noticing or thinking about our body. If it happens to be nighttime, and you’re in a non-polluted place, looking up at the stars, and acknowledging, wow, we are a speck on a rock in space, what? So, dropping into that place of awe there.
A habitual way of accessing awe can be, hey, you know what, every time I have my 30-minute walk over lunchtime, I’m shifting it into what we call an awe walk, and this is where we can drop…the same thing with that one-minute awe break, but like drop into our sensory experience of like, wow, here’s my body moving, wow, one in a million chance that I even was born to walk like this, looking up at the trees, right, and acknowledging the natural ways of nature and how everything moves on its own time.
Like, there’s so much that we can then open that lens up fully, too, again, if we’re tunnel vision, it’s like opening up those lens to notice everything around us, and then, again, elevate this, once again, to a macro version, and you can do an awe excursion of, you know what, I’ve always wanted to go to the mountains, or there is the Pacific Ocean, or the Atlantic Ocean, right, this vast, amazing place.
Like, what does it look like for me to spend time there? Bring your VIPs with you. Bring the very important people in your life with you, right, to accentuate that experience. Get yourself connected to something bigger than yourself.
Oh, I love that one, and it is, to your point, it can happen anywhere, and then also like when you do experience something, you know, for instance, I can say, when I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, it took my breath away because it was like this exists, and the world and this space is so much bigger than us, and this is my place in it, and I think those moments are…they give us perspective and reconnect us to ourselves, I think.
And you’re right. Like, it’s accessible anywhere, at any time.
Yes. So, it doesn’t have to be the Grand Canyon. It could be looking up at a tree in your yard and noticing just like how that leaf came back, the resilience of that thing, right? Like, it’s all over. Okay, number six is sensory rest, and this one, when I read it, I was like, oh, I’m intrigued by this, let’s talk about this.
Sensory rest, yeah. It’s our penultimate type of rest here, that type of rest where, you know, we can acknowledge it as, like, every single day, as I move through the world, I have to access all five senses. They can get overactivated. I can be in a state of using one sense more than the other, like, you know, throughout the work day, our eyes might stay really well-focused on a screen, and our eyes are just darting back and forth in that one little tiny place of light, and that light is emitting back and forth through our eyes.
If we stay in one sensory place for a very long time like that, it can feel fatiguing. It can add up. Likewise, if we aren’t accessing parts of our sensory experience, that can be fatiguing, too, of, hey, I eat my food really quickly, but I’m not actually tasting it. We do that often enough, it can add up. So, sensory rest gives us this opportunity not just to maybe unplug ourselves, so to speak, to recharge.
It’s this opportunity to say how can I really dive into a sensory experience that I have been neglecting or not even aware that I’ve been accessing, and you know what? I get to turn that back on. So, I love this type of rest because it’s really like an invitation to say…deep dive into life, and enjoy it, with all five senses.
So, signs you might be depleted here may be, you know, you might be feeling a sense of overwhelm. You might be feeling like, hey, I’m so much in my head, right, there might be similar cues as the need for mental rest. So, I want to acknowledge that. You may have like an inability to think clearly. You may experience a sense of like, I don’t know, I feel kind of numb, you know?
I feel like disconnected and numb, right, which can make…or sounds a little similar to the cues for spiritual rest. So, this overlapping sense of these different types of rest can indeed support each other. So, how do we get sensory rest, then?
One easy, quick way, and again, something I will guide my clients through really quickly and easily, is like let’s rub our hands together, get them nice and warm, and then actually place our palms over the eyes and allow our eyes to stop all the work they’ve been doing all day long, all day long, taking that visual sensory rest.
A habitual way of doing this, and truly one of my favorite ways of getting rest just across the board, is doing what we call a silent commute, where you get in your car, you shut the door, it’s quiet. No emails are following you. No boss is sitting next to you, hopefully, in the front seat, telling you what needs to happen next. Like, you get to be quiet and still in that space, listen to your breath, notice if you can even hear your heartbeat, right?
Like, listen to the sound of the cars moving, coming and going, and I mean, extra bonus if it’s actually raining. Like, I feel like that’s an elevated type of sensory rest, where it’s like, oh, the rain that’s coming down on the hood of your car, there’s like nothing more special than that.
That’s beautiful, just allowing yourself to be in that quiet space and truly creating a habit of this so that you regularly teach your nervous system, hey, it’s actually safe to be quiet like this. It’s actually okay to experience this.
And the good news with that is it’s kind of built into our days, already, so it’s simply a matter of turning off the radio, just saying, no, no podcast today, but for many of us, it’s part of our regular day-to-day responsibilities or routines, already. So, it’s something we can do pretty quickly.
Oh my gosh. Completely. Yeah, and if anyone here is familiar with the work of James Clear and Atomic Habits, I mean, it’s habit stacking of saying I already have this habit of driving home. I’m going to stack another habit on top of it. That is actually just turning the podcast off.
Not that you should turn this podcast off, though. Got to keep this one on.
After you listen to this, think about it, but you know?
And then a macro version of this type of sensory rest may be what we call like a technology Sabbath, right, or just being able to turn off, if you’re purposeful about it, and allowing yourself to turn off your phone, allowing yourself to step away from emails, from notifications, being really diligent and choosing, hey, I’m not going to scroll, you know, mindlessly today, putting the phone away, and then allowing yourself, again, to be immersed in the sensory experience that is our lifetime, and allowing yourself to tune in.
And again, this could be you going out into nature. It could be spending time with your family. You could be doing housework all day. I mean it really doesn’t matter. Like, you give yourself an opportunity to just be immersed in the life that is right there in front of you and putting that good old-fashioned phone away.
Oh, so much easier said than done, but so, so important, and I would refer people to the March issue of Experience Life. March 2023, we did a great piece on like a digital detox and how to progress to that. So, if you need some tips on how to approach that and manage it, that would be there. Last, but certainly not least, on our list of seven in this space, is creative rest.
Creative rest. So, yeah, believe it or not, we all need this. You know I’ve had some clients say, well, I’m not creative, so I don’t need creative rest, but the reality is, is that human nature, by its very existence, is a creative one. We’re constantly in creation, whether it’s creation of a story that we’re telling each other, thoughts that we have, the actual work that we do, right? We are creative creatures.
So, we can lose touch with this essential part of ourselves pretty easily, and so, the rest, the actual creative rest that we can achieve, is being able to sync into this appreciation of beauty, of art, nature, right, is an excellent representation of this, really to feed that creative self. So, you may feel depleted in your creative energy here if you find yourself just lacking new ideas or inspiration, and you’re feeling a little sluggy in that arena.
You might find yourself avoiding a difficult project, or there’s like a problem you know needs to be solved, but you just turn away from it, or you might actually feel like the work that you’re doing or how you show up in the world has low value, or you’re just feeling underappreciated.
So, when you click into these signs for yourself, you get to then go into that creative space. So, a small way of doing this is what’s called horizon gazing or just simple like nature awareness, where you really pull yourself away from whatever it is that you may be looking at or focused on and allow yourself to look out the window, or if you happen to be outside, just looking outside, and just look as far away as you can, you know? I happen to have the pleasure to be blessed to be near the mountains.
So, it’s like looking out the window to the mountains and just noticing what’s there, and that can be a really quick revival to our creative senses. A habitual way of going about this is what we can call artist dates, and this is from the work of Julia Cameron. She wrote The Artist’s Way. I recommend it.
Oh, I love that, and we do have some content from her at Experience Life. I’ll link to that.
Fabulous. And these artists dates, it’s giving yourself an opportunity to say, okay, once a week, I am going to do something that my inner child would just adore, would love. I am going to go to the Dollar Store and pick up just paint supplies and then see what I do with it, or a sticker project, or go to the park and swing on a swing, just doing something that’s just like uplifting and fun, going to the museum, right, just filling that inner child need.
And then a larger way of doing this creative rest may be, honestly, just PTO or a weekend in a really purposeful place for you, you know? It may be a place in which…maybe it’s the place in which your inner child has always wanted to go to and never had the opportunity, and now as an adult, you’re going to bring your inner child there, right?
You know, I just had a friend of mine go to Disney World for the first time as an adult, and they’ve always wanted to do it as a little kid, and it was so creatively fulfilling for her. So, give that some thought of what does the little kid in me…where do they want to go for a full weekend? And then let yourself go there.
Right. I’m going to share a quick example of this from my husband who recently discovered mountain biking, and that might not seem creative, but for him, it has revived this inner child in him. He’s like a kid in a candy shop, who’s like I cannot get enough of this, I’m so excited to figure out…like, for him, the creativity is figuring out how to get over this rock face, or down this path, and like creativity doesn’t have to be art in the sense that we think about.
There’s so many ways of creativity in the world, and I’ve seen my husband light up because he’s found this area where it’s like his brain is stimulated in a different way. It does feel creative in its own unique way. So, I just want to encourage everybody to think about it just outside of like the traditional art sense, because creativity is everywhere and in everything we do, if we’re willing to see it, so.
It truly is.
So, of all these seven types of rest, I really hope, as our listeners are tuning into this, maybe you’ve had an aha moment or a moment where you’ve been like, oh, there’s a lot of these that I’m depleting. Personally, as we’ve talked about this, I’m like, oh, I have some opportunities kind of across the board, and again, to your point, it’s not about going all in, right now, and trying to rest or find the rest in all these areas but really thinking for yourselves about how to prioritize.
So, that’s what I really hope our listeners take from this episode is to know that there are different types of rest, and you can’t do it all at once, but take care of yourself and tune into yourself, and I think, Barbara, I mean, on that note, like, what else do you want people to know about rest before we sign off? We want people to be able to take this and really reflect on it.
Yeah. I mean as we’re acknowledging like all rest is, in the words of Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, like, all rest is sacred. It’s important, and you get to find, well, what’s my recipe? What’s going to work for me, right here, right now? It truly is your birthright. You don’t need to hit a full-on level of exhaustion anywhere in order to cultivate rest for yourself, and it really is our individual right to experience it, right? We were born human. We weren’t born robots or AI.
We really, truly need it and deserve it. So, I actually really want folks, as you’re listening to this, absorbing it, considering what type of rest you need, examine, for just a brief moment, your beliefs around rest, right? Give yourself a shot of noticing what do I actually think and believe about rest, what feels true to me, and am I willing to challenge some of those thoughts and beliefs, right?
I mean when we think of beliefs, they’re largely thoughts that we’ve just thought over and over and over again, and somehow, along the way, they became true or felt true to ourselves. So, conversations like this are an opportunity to bring perhaps new thoughts in that you then can repeat over and over and over again, and create a new truth for yourself.
So, there are three…I’ll just briefly hit on them, there are three self-limiting beliefs that can come in the rest arena, and we deserve to be able to challenge those. So, one of those self-limiting beliefs might be, well, I got to earn rest, right? I got to like have the output, the productivity, I got to really earn it, and I’m here to give you the new thought of you can give yourself just mere permission to rest.
It’s not an if-this, then-that proposition, necessarily, right? Like, if I do this, then I can, like, oh, let’s set that aside.
Yeah. That’s right. It’s just simply a part of who I am as a human. I also rest. A second self-limiting belief that might come forward is that, well, if I rest, rest is lazy. Oh, I could be doing things. Like, rest is lazy, and I want to give you the opportunity to shift that thought into a belief that could be rest is actually revitalizing, is this essential revitalizing action for ourselves, and finally, this third self-limiting belief that might bubble up is that, well, if I just push through, you know, like I’ve actually, I’ve done it in the past, I can do it here, and I don’t doubt that. I mean I would bet every single person listening to this is a strong human and is able to have resiliency and push through.
You know because we can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the way. So, I want to actually invite you to think about the phrase my body is a trustworthy guide. So, when we slow down, when we listen to our bodies, our body, like, we acknowledge all throughout this podcast, like, you’ll get cues. Your body will let you know, and then you get to listen and respond to those cues.
Well, my colleague, David, is not here, but he often does have a final question for our guests, and so, in the spirit of honoring his tradition and our tradition here on the Life Time Talks podcast, I’m not going to go too crazy, but I really just, you know, one of the questions you asked listeners to tune into, with themselves, at the start, was what kind of rest am I best at? And so, for you, Barbara, I’m curious, what is the kind of rest that you’re best at, right now, at this time in your life?
I love the asterisks of right now, this time in your life, because it has changed, you know, and it does change from season to season. Honestly, right now, I find myself really clicked into emotional rest. You know I packed up my car in Minnesota and left, you know, my partner, my cat, my dog, my house, my life, in order to train in Colorado for the summer, and being solo, I found myself really in need of emotional connection and ensuring that I take really good care of that part of myself.
So, I have a journaling practice in which I really am still with myself and listen, okay, what’s going on in my heart, what am I feeling and thinking, and I write. So, it’s called morning pages, also from Julia Cameron, and I have my therapist I connect with on a monthly basis, and the very important people in my life have received very real insight about who I am, how I’m doing, and how I’m moving through this stage of my life.
And I’ve found myself having the capacity and the bandwidth to hold space for them, too, and listen to what they’re moving through and how they’re doing in their life. So, again, that mutual understanding is present there. So, yeah, I think I’ll say emotional rest has been winning out lately.
I love that, and you know, it’s always so…because you do this work every day, you know, with clients, but also you’re doing this work yourself, and it’s important for us to know that it’s all a journey. We’re all at different phases and stages, and things will change, and how we rest will change over time. So, Barbara, thank you, so much, for coming on with us again today.
I want to say you mentioned earlier, you know, a lot of this work is from Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith. She has a rest quiz that people can take to help determine what types of rest they need. So, we’re going to link to that in the show notes, but if people want to connect with you, Barbara, directly, how can they do that?
Yeah. If you want to connect with me directly, LinkedIn is always a fun place to do that if you want to connect with me professionally. You can connect with me on Instagram if you want to see how my running adventures are going. That’s @BarbaraPowellRuns, and finally, I have a poetry website that folks can click into if they want to see where my creative rest goes into, and that’s TheDayBetweenBlog.com.
Barbara, thank you, again. I’m sure we’ll have you back on again, soon, but in the meantime, best of luck on your race in a week and a half, and we’re cheering for you, and thank you for all your contributions over the years, now…over years. We’ve had this for years.
Unbelievable. Believable, but also unbelievable. Thank you, so much, for having me, and truly rest well, you and everyone listening, rest well.
Thanks for joining us for this episode. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our conversation today and how you approach this aspect of healthy living in your own life. What works for you? Where do you run into challenges? Where do you need help?
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Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next time on Life Time Talks. Life Time Talks is a production of Life Time Healthy Way of Life. It is produced by Molly Kopischke and Sarah Ellingsworth with audio engineering by Peter Perkins, video production and editing by Kevin Dickson, sound and video consulting by Corey Larson and support from George Norman and the rest of the team at Life Time Motion.
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