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Beat Burnout and Avoid the “Sunday Scaries” by Getting These 7 Types of Rest

Coming back from a long weekend we should feel energized, rested, and ready for the week ahead.

But, all too often, we come back from a break or vacation and seem to feel more sluggish and slow than ever.

Why is it that even with time off or a long night’s sleep, we still have a chronic lack of energy?

Physician, author, and researcher Saundra Dalton-Smith is cracking the code on how we can feel fully awake and vibrant throughout the day.

Rather than putting all of our hope in a day off or a few extra hours of sleep, she’s learned there are actually seven unique types of rest we need.

In her TEDxAtlanta Talk, “The Real Reason Why We Are Tired and What to Do About It,” Dr. Dalton-Smith explains:

“Sleep and rest are not the same thing. We’ve incorrectly combined the concepts of sleep and rest to the point it appears ineffective. Sleep is only one part of the big picture. It’s only one of the seven types of rest.

Many of us are going through life thinking we have rested because we have slept, but in reality, we are missing out on the other types of rest that we need.

The result is a culture of high-achieving, high-producing, chronically tired, burned-out individuals.

Because we misunderstand the need for different types of rest beyond extra sleep or binge-watching our favorite show on TV, many of us are operating on a rest deficit and struggling to make it through the day, lethargic and lacking passion for what we do, and emotionally cranky and unfulfilled.

Getting our energy and vigor back is much easier when we can identify the types of rest we are needing most. Dr. Dalton-Smith has created a simple quiz to identify how we’re doing in each type. Test yourself and make a plan for how to build back your energy beyond sleep.

Here is a short breakdown of each type of rest we need to truly experience recovery and restoration:

1) Physical Rest: Physical rest is the most obvious type of rest and often our immediate go-to. When we’re feeling tired and down, we reach for passive physical rest like sleep and napping. The lack of movement and activity helps our body build back energy when we’re spent.

However, we also need active physical rest—restorative activities that can improve our circulation and help relax our muscles. Activities such as yoga, stretching, massage therapy, and a leisurely walk can do the trick.

2) Mental Rest: As much as our physical body needs to slow down and experience times of inactivity, our mind also needs a steady break to help us deeply rest. We need downtime to unwind our mind, but we don’t have to quit our job, go on vacation, or head to a deserted island to slow things down. Simply taking short breaks throughout the day, about every two hours, to stop, slow down, and calm our mind can have a huge impact on our mind’s ability to rest and recover.

Once we’ve made it home from our workday, we can also utilize a mental download or brain dump of everything that’s racing through our mind to set down the heavy load and let our minds get quiet. If you’re struggling to sleep at night due to racing thoughts and a brain that just won’t shut off, you can also keep a note pad by your bed to capture anything that’s nagging in your head.

3) Sensory Rest: There’s no doubt our senses are on overload in today’s highly technical, incredibly fast-paced world. The constant barrage of stimuli is a huge contributor to our chronic fatigue and “going dark” by turning down the sensory input in our lives can go a long way.

Our work environment might be buzzing with bright lights, computer screens, notifications and alarms, phones ringing, strong smells and fragrances, and chatter and conversation all around us. Even the commute home with busy traffic, honking cars, construction zones, and signs to follow can add to the overwhelm.

To get the sensory rest we need, we must consciously build in extra time for silence, low lighting, and a calmer, more peaceful environment. Simple tricks like keeping the radio off on our drive home, silencing notifications on our cell, reading a book, doing only one task or activity at a time, or setting time blocks for when we’ll do sensory-rich activities can help stave off a deficit of sensory rest.

4) Social Rest: Throughout the day we need to expend a considerable amount of social energy as we interact with our family, colleagues, patients, and friends. Interpersonal relationships can be incredibly life-giving, but certain interactions with others can also cause a huge energetic drain.

In order to have enough capacity to serve those who need so much from us, we must work to cultivate meaningful, deeply connected and supportive friendships that can help to fill us back up. We’re looking for individuals who don’t need anything from us but simply enjoy our company, encourage us, and build up rather than pull down our energy.   

5) Emotional Rest: To get deep, emotional rest, we need the freedom and liberty to be our authentic selves in the world. When we’re glossing over how we really feel or engaging in people-pleasing behaviors, we aren’t displaying vulnerability or being fully truthful about who we are. That constant censoring of our inner selves can tend to wear us down.

We don’t need to be unnecessarily transparent with everyone, but to get proper emotional rest, we need to have confidants with whom we can fully reveal who we really are and express our struggles, joys, doubts, and dreams. This person may be a counselor, trusted friend, pastor, or family member. What matters most is we can feel safe to tell them how our life really is and what we actually feel.

6) Spiritual Rest: No matter our religious or spiritual beliefs, we all need a level of deep spiritual, soul rest to feel restored. This type of rest is achieved when we feel a sense of belonging, feel deeply accepted, and know we are deeply loved.

We can get this type of rest through journaling, spiritual practices, meditation, and prayer, but also from cultivating community. Joining a support group or club and engaging in something greater than ourselves can help give us a sense of purpose and improve our level of spiritual rest.  

7) Creative Rest: The seventh type of rest is creative rest. This type of rest reawakens a childlike awe and wonder inside of us. When we take in the beauty of awe-inspiring sights like the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls, we can help induce creative rest. However, it’s not just about appreciating the beauty of nature, it can also be achieved by enjoying the arts.

We can transform our workspace into a place of inspiration with great music, design, images of places we’d love to visit, a bold color on the wall, and artwork that speaks to us. We can also freshen up our space with fresh flowers and mementos from those we love.

Dr. Dalton-Smith jokes it’s impossible to feel passionate about anything if we’re staring at beige walls and a bland environment day in and day out. Taking time to cultivate beauty and creativity in our surroundings isn’t a wasted effort, it can fuel us with a deep sense of creative rest that allows us to be more innovative, think outside the box, and work with more passion, energy, and enthusiasm.

Putting it to Work
If you’re still dragging even after getting a long night’s sleep, an extra day off, or vacation, you may simply be craving one of the other seven types of rest.

Sleep and inactivity aren’t enough to give us the reboot and restoration we truly need to succeed.

Listen to Dr. Dalton-Smith’s TED Talk and take her quiz to find out which types of rest you are needing and build up your strength in each area to reclaim your passion, energy, and vitality.

MONTHLY PLANNING: Closing FY2023 Strong with a Final Push to the Peak

At Triannual II last July, Mr. Kutch kicked off FY2023 with a big vision for the year ahead.

In our Action section, we charted a course for our year, planning out our goals in each of the four focuses of a leader: resilience, engagement, experience and innovation.

With one month remaining in FY2023, let’s take a moment to review our annual plan and see what we’ve accomplished. Celebrate everything that you and your teams have done through the year and revel in all of the hard work, energy, and effort you’ve put in to make this season of growth and transition a success.

If there are any key goals from your annual plan that still need a final push, what can you do in the next four weeks to bring them to the finish line? How can you make the most of these last few weeks of FY2023 and make one last sprint toward the peak?

As you look back on the past year, also take a moment to review pages 29-30 of your Triannual II Workbook and reflect on how you’ve become more engaged as an employee and helped to build engagement as a leader.

Have you been strengthening your muscles as a leader, making time to lead by growing your team’s skills and capacities, supporting your team through coaching and rounding, and burning away any tasks or priorities that prevent you from devoting your time to what matters most?

Use this month as an opportunity to recommit to your key leadership practices and re-energize yourself around your bigger goals and broader why. Tap back in to what most fuels you as a leader and help your teams re-engage around key initiatives and goals.

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