GETTING ENOUGH REST? PROBABLY NOT. HERE’S WHAT TO DO INSTEAD
Rest Isn’t Quite As Simple As You’d Think
Have you ever sat on the couch all day but still felt like you barely relaxed? That’s because, weirdly enough, not all rest is created equally. There’s different types of rest that our bodies and minds need to feel our best. Western Medicine says that we need 7-9 hours of sleep plus a half hour or so to get to sleep so that we can get into the deep sleep that allows our body to make repairs. Eastern medicine has a less “numeric” take on rest.
Sometimes the kind of rest we need is sleep. But sometimes it’s a Netflix marathon, or a long drive, or a coffee date with your best friend. Here’s what you need to know about the different ways to rest up with eastern medicine so you can refuel and take on the world!
The 7 Different Types of Rest
Do you ever feel like you literally can’t come up with another good idea for your life of you? That probably means you need some creative rest. Creative rest will inspire and motivate you. It replenishes your imagination and makes it easier to come up with creative, clever ideas.
So how do you get creative rest? Well, it can look different for everyone. A great way that works for a lot of people is getting into nature. Go for a hike, take a walk and find a spot to view the sunset, or just have a picnic in the park. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the “goal” is to be in harmony–with ourselves, with nature, and with the universe. So getting outside is the perfect way to reconnect your body and mind with the natural energy of the earth.
Sometimes it can feel like your mind is going a million miles a minute. Even when you’re just sitting on the couch, you could be thinking about work, the kids, or something a friend said last weekend. We live in such a go-go-go society that it’s hard to simply stop thinking. But if we never let our mind rest, we can get burnt out really fast.
When it comes to mental rest, TCM’s tried and true method is meditation. Basically, meditation is all about focusing your mind and quieting those annoying little thoughts that keep popping up, even when you’re trying to zone out. And even though it might seem a little hokey, researchers have found lots of legit benefits of meditation, including stress reduction, less anxiety, and lower blood pressure. It can even improve your attention span!
But if meditation’s not for you, that’s ok. Just try to find an activity that’s repetitive enough that you don’t have to think about what you’re doing so your brain can just rest. Hit the treadmill, hop on a bike, or pick up the knitting needles. Taking the time to let your brain chill out will help you focus more on what really matters.
This one is probably the easiest to understand and get. When your body needs to rest, it’s time to hit the couch or the lawn chair and just chill. If you’re a hardcore athlete or Netflix marathons on the couch just aren’t for you, you can try a physical activity like yoga or tai chi that’s less taxing than usual to give your muscles and bones a break.
There’s two kinds of people: people who drain you and people who fill you up. Social rest is all about spending time with those people who make you feel re-energized, happy, and relaxed. It’s about working on the relationships that are most important to you.
One of the best ways to ground yourself is to link up with friends who balance you out. For instance, in Ayurveda, there are 3 different energy types (aka doshas)–vata, kapha, and pitta. Each energy type is made up of a combo of 2 of the 5 elements. Vata dosha is made up of space and air, Pitta dosha combines fire and water, and Kapha dosha has water and earth. People with Vata energy tend to be flighty, impulsive, and easily excited. People with Pitta dosha tend to be blunt and clever, and those with Kapha energy are loyal, dependable, and patient. If you’re a Vata kind of person, you might want to hang out with a friend with Kapha energy to balance you out. When you need social rest, seek out those buddies who help you recenter.
These days, our senses are bombarded from every angle–we’ve got notifications dinging on our phones, a podcast on in the background, and lights blinking on our computers, tablets, and TVs. With all this, it can be easy to go into sensory overload. And studies have found that that can actually be bad for your health by causing high blood pressure and even heart attacks.To reset and recharge, you need to give yourself a rest from all the background noise.
Take a page out of Ayurveda’s book and start and end your day with silence. This gives you time for introspection and gives your brain a break from having to process all the sights, sounds, and smells that you encounter everyday. Start by taking the first and last 5 minutes of your day to sit or lay in silence. Put your phone on do not disturb and just breathe. As time goes on, you can add more and more time to your practice.
Over the last year or so, we’ve had to feel a lot of feelings. The stress of transitioning to working from home, the worry about you or a loved one getting sick, the sadness of missing out on holidays with friends and family. To put it lightly, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions.
But sometimes, you need a break from feeling everything! When your emotions start to control or overwhelm you, that’s when you know you need some emotional rest. When this happens, it’s time to get some stuff off your chest. Talk to a friend or loved one and just give yourself some space to vent.
Even if you’re not religious, spiritual rest is still important. It’s all about feeling connected to something bigger than yourself–whether that’s God, Allah, or simply the human experience. The way you do this is totally up to you. You could spend some time praying, talking about your faith, or connecting to your community. Try volunteering at a local dog shelter, passing out soup at a nearby food bank, or joining a community cleanup effort. The goal is to rediscover a sense of purpose and get grounded.
If you’re sick of feeling burnt out and tired even at the end of the weekend or after your day off, it’s probably because you’re not giving yourself the type of rest you need. So if you’re looking to make the most of your downtime, you have to start with figuring out which of the 7 types of rest you really need. That will help you rest and recharge so you can get back to kicking ass and taking names.