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The 7 Types of Rest (& How To Use Your Journal To Achieve Them)

There’s this moment when you come up with a new idea.

A moment where everything seems possible. That goal, plan, idea feels fully tangible. It’s within reach.

Which makes it so much harder to pick yourself up again when you miss the mark. You’re left berating yourself. You tell yourself stories of your “failure”.

You reason that it must be that you’re not good enough. When, in reality, it’s not because you’re not enough. It’s because you haven’t got enough energy.

You see, resting is so much more than just a few hours of extra sleep. (We know, that blew our minds too!)

This is how to rest, with the seven types of rest.

Get ready. Your life’s about to change.

How to rest

Physician and researcher Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith proposes that there are seven types of rest. She suggests that the reason we’re all battling with so much burnout is that we only focus on one of them.


“Sleep and rest are not the same thing”
Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith

But resting is so much more complex. You need different types of rest for different types of recovery.

A solid eight hours of sleep is never a bad idea. But it won’t always give you the rest you need.

If you’re struggling with a heavy mental load, working in an environment where you experience sensory overload or managing some emotional turmoil at home, you’re going to need a different type of restoration.

This is where the seven types of rest come in.

But before we get into each of those, know this: if you’re feeling the strain across all areas of your life right now, choose one starting point.

Look through each type of rest and assess which feels most urgent to you, right now. That’s where you need to begin.

Not sure where that is? Try taking Dr Saundra’s rest quiz.

Woman sleeping in bed

The seven types of rest

1. Physical Rest

This is the type of rest that’s most familiar to all of us. When we stay still and allow our body to recharge. But there’s still something to be learnt here!

Your physical rest can be passive or active. And you’re going to need a different type of physical rest depending on your body’s needs.

Passive rest gives you a deeper recovery, through sleeping and napping. Whilst active rest, such as yoga, stretching and massage therapy, can help to improve your body’s circulation and overall well-being.

Use your journal:
When you’re not getting the physical rest you need, task your journal with helping you.

Bring a sleep tracker into your bullet journaling practice to monitor how much shut eye you’re getting each night. Or, bring active rest into your habit tracker and set yourself a goal for your yoga and stretching sessions each month.

2. Mental Rest

Struggling to concentrate? Forgetting everyday tasks? Battling with a mind full of loud thoughts? Feeling yourself getting anxious and agitated?

You probably need to give yourself some mental rest. When you’re waking up from an 8-hour sleep feeling like you could do that all over again, it’s time to shift your focus to a different type of rest.

It’s time to quiet your mind.

Use your journal:
Mental rest means giving yourself the tools to slow down your mind. The aim? Create mental space.

Try keeping a notepad by your bed to scribble down those last-minute thoughts, ready for a peaceful sleep.

You can bring more restful journaling practices into your daily routine too. Try using Morning Pages to clear your mind before your day even begins, and then use those thoughts or worries and create an action plan to conquer them. A goal planner can help you with this.

Finally, ensure that you’re giving yourself a realistic to-do list. If you’re constantly battling with never-ending tasks that rarely get completed, your mental load is going to be heavy.

3. Sensory Rest

You’ve got five senses. And when a few of them are being overstimulated? You’re going to experience sensory overload.

The technology and lifestyles that make up our modern world can easily overwhelm your senses. From bright office lighting to whirring machines, loud workplace conversations and busy city streets, there’s a lot going on out there.

But you can give yourself a break. Unplug from the electronics that distract your senses. Commute with your noise-cancelling headphones on, but your music off. And control your environment when you need to.

Use your journal:
Switching to paper planning is a great way to remove a little technology from your day. Leave your computer behind and take yourself someplace quiet. You might just find that more ideas come to you there, away from the constant digital distractions and pinging of your email inbox.

Not ready for that yet? Try using a mood tracker to monitor when and where your senses are most affected, so you can start spending more time in the environment that works best for you.

A man journaling in a coffee shop, wearing headphones

4. Creative Rest

You’re going to like this one. Creative rest is all about re-awakening the wonder within us.

Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith compares it to childlike awe, as we surround ourselves with spaces and things that inspire us. As she explains, you can’t expect to spend 40 hours a week staring at beige walls and expect to come up with innovative ideas.

Instead, add more inspiration to your days. Get outside. Go into nature. Visit galleries and museums. Take yourself on artist’s dates. And fill your space with things that inspire you. Whether it’s well-designed stationery, or plants and fresh scented candles, there are little things you can do to any space to make them more “you”.

Use your journal:
Use your journal as a space to tune into your inner child and let your imagination roam free. Try doodling and see where the pen takes you. Get creative with your weekly spreads, so you always have something stimulating to look at. And inspire yourself with the journaling community along the way.

5. Emotional Rest

Every friendship group has this person. The one who says “yes” to every request. Who hates confrontation. Who’s a people pleaser.

If that person’s you? You’re likely in need of some emotional rest.

This type of rest allows you to express your feelings without fear. So you can answer the question “how are you” with the truth. Even when it isn’t a positive response.

Emotional rest is best achieved through talking. Be it with a trusted friend who’s a good listener or through the medium of therapy, the key here is to offload your emotional baggage.

Use your journal:
If you’re not ready for that emotional offload in person, try offloading into your journal instead. Use it as a space to be honest, to get those feelings out of your head and onto the page.

You can also use it as a space to work through your emotions. Try deepening your self-awareness through self-love practices and prompts, or build a practical plan to find support such as through therapy, teachers and so on.

6. Social Rest

Your social rest needs will vary, depending on whether you’re introverted or extroverted, surrounded by positive or negative people, and spending more time online or offline.

If time with others drains your social batteries, you’ll need time alone to recharge them.

If interactions with your friends leave you feeling negative, you may need time with more positive people.

If socialisation online makes up the bulk of your day, you might need some time offline instead.

Use your journal:
Journal out your thoughts after the interactions that leave you feeling drained. What was it that triggered these emotions? What action can you take to change that?

Use your planner or journal to take care of your calendar. Monitor how much time you’re spending with other people versus with yourself. And schedule in time alone or with people who lift you up.

2 girls taking a selfie

7. Spiritual Rest

The seventh type of rest is spiritual rest. Which can be one of the trickiest types of rest to conquer, as it’s so unique to everyone.

In a nutshell, spiritual rest is all about engaging with something that’s bigger than yourself. If you’re religious, this might be through a religious practice or prayer. For others, it could mean connecting with your local community, giving back through volunteering or spending some time on self-reflection.

Use your journal:
What makes you feel good? The answer to this question will always be personal to you.

Perhaps it’s planning out time with communities that fill you up, such as volunteering or book clubs. Maybe it’s spiritual journaling like moon journaling or tarot journaling. Or, it could simply be regular time out to meditate, tracked through your habit tracker.

There you have it - the seven types of rest. If you’re anything like us, you’re now thinking “oh wow, resting is even harder than I thought”. But don’t be put off.

Use the seven types of rest as a tool to give yourself the rest you’re so desperately craving. And remember, focus on just one type of rest at a time. Happy resting!

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