There are so many types of rest that someone needs to be healthy and joyful. Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith states, “Humans need seven different types of rest in order to flourish: physical, mental, social, creative, emotional, spiritual, and sensory.”  

The workplace can be one of the most stressful places we spend our time, whether working for someone else or ourselves. A recent study led by Deloitte showed that most workers had no passion for their work. Additionally, an article by Dylan Walsh based on a Stanford study showed that the workplace is the fifth leading cause of death. The National Institutes of Health would state that stroke is the fifth leading cause of death, but the more we look at the Stanford study by Jeffrey Pfeffer, the more it resonates with what I have been observing in recent years.


Let’s break down what that could look like in hours. We have 168 hours a week. We sleep an estimated 8 hours a night, leaving us 112 hours of awake time. That is if we are not battling insomnia, but the approach I’m suggesting may even help with that. And remember, as we are on this journey of considering rest, sleep and rest are not the same. So what do we do with the 112 hours? Almost half of that is working 45-60 hours per week. Then we are left with approximately 60 hours for ourselves or around 8 hours per day, but more likely, we have about 5 hours that are genuinely open to doing what we need to do personally. That is around 60 hours for our family connections, the work of doing our family life (making meals, shopping, etc.), and maybe some TV time. How could we possibly make rest a priority within these constraints? Time is the only finite thing in our lives, so we cannot change time and make more of it. 

So back to Dr. Dalton-Smith’s seven types of rest. How do we accomplish that? Well, I have found that it’s work-life integration, not work-life balance. We cannot leave all the free hours of our life until the end of the day as most people do. We must find ways to integrate our personal needs into our work to ensure we have those seven types of rest.

Physical Rest

If you feel like you are in a grind, you are. And you are taking years off your life. Dr. Dalton-Smith suggests sleep is only one part of physical rest. Passive physical rest is sleeping and napping, but as Dr. Dalton-Smith states, “active physical rest means restorative activities such as yoga, stretching and massage therapy.”

Mental and Sensory Rest

The next type of rest is mental rest, which can be accomplished with short breaks every two hours during your workday. Next is sensory rest. Wait a minute. Sensory rest sounds like no phones or electronics. Yep, that’s what it means, and we need it. We must have intentional moments of sensory deprivation to help us overcome the constant information overload that our electronics can cause. 

Creative Rest

Creative rest is next and by far my favorite type of rest. Dr. Dalton-Smith states creative rest reawakens the awe and wonder inside of each of us. So how do we get that type of rest? Go outside! Get some Vitamin N, also known as Nature. One of the blessings of my life was getting to do work that allowed me to meet the amazing Richard Louv. If you don’t know him, look him up and learn about Vitamin N. I love creative rest, but I find I do not do it enough. When I’m not getting Vitamin N, I’m not doing well. Go outside in the warmth and sun, but you can also go outside when it’s rainy and cold. It’s good for you. No, don’t get drenched and get a cold, but do engage with nature everyday regardless of the weather (okay unless you are in subzero temperatures…that’s different). I’m from the south, get outside. 

Emotional and Social Rest

The next type of rest is emotional rest. As a self-diagnosed extrovert that needs people and enjoys humans at their best and at their worst, I need emotional rest. We must learn to be honest when someone asks us if we are okay. It is okay to say, “no,” even if you gain your energy from others. We need moments of rest from others so we can emotionally rest and we need to be able to be honest with others when we are not okay. Not only does it help us but it’s good role modeling for others. That leads me to social rest as the next type of rest. We sometimes need to be alone or surrounded by people that are positive and supportive and that we don’t have to be our best self to be supported and loved. 

Spiritual Rest

The final type of rest is spiritual rest. This type of rest goes to the core of who we are as humans. To achieve this rest and engage in something bigger than ourselves, add prayer, meditation, or community involvement to our daily routine. We must be careful here when I say community involvement because for someone like me, that’s a part of my daily professional work, so we must be intentional about how we choose that community involvement. The goal of spiritual rest is to have a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance, and purpose. Choose wisely how you gain this type of rest, but I believe it is crucial to a fulfilled and joyful life. 

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