In our fast-paced, productivity-obsessed culture, rest is often viewed as a luxury that we can’t afford. We equate being busy with being successful, and many of us feel guilty or ashamed for taking time to rest. However, as highly sensitive people, rest is essential for our physical, mental, and emotional health. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of rest, why we avoid rest, and how we can change our perspectives on rest to view it as productive and valuable as work.

The Importance of Rest

Rest is essential for our overall health and well-being. It is a time for our bodies and minds to recharge and replenish. When we don’t allow ourselves to rest, we can experience burnout, exhaustion, and a host of physical and mental health issues. Rest allows us to:

  • Recharge our batteries: Resting allows our bodies and minds to recover from the stresses of daily life, giving us the energy we need to tackle our responsibilities.
  • Reduce stress: Resting helps to reduce stress hormones in our bodies, promoting relaxation and reducing the risk of physical and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic pain, insomnia, and immune system dysfunction.
  • Boost our immune system: Resting can be particularly helpful in improving our immune system’s ability to fight off illness. For instance, a study published in the journal “Psychosomatic Medicine” found that people who slept less than seven hours a night were three times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept eight hours or more. Another study published in the “Journal of Sleep Research” found that people who slept for less than six hours a night had a significantly higher risk of getting sick with a cold than those who slept for more than seven hours a night. These studies highlight the importance of getting adequate rest in order to maintain a healthy immune system and prevent illness.
  • Improve our cognitive function: Resting helps to improve memory, concentration, and overall cognitive function. For example, a study published in the “Journal of Sleep Research” found that taking a nap during the day improved cognitive function, including memory recall and reaction time, in healthy adults.
  • Improved creativity: Resting allows our minds to wander and can help us to come up with new ideas and creative solutions. Additionally, rest gives our brain a chance to consolidate memories and process emotions.
  • Better decision-making: Resting allows us to approach problems with a fresh perspective, improving our ability to make informed decisions.
  • Increased efficiency: Taking time to rest can help us to avoid burnout and fatigue, improving our ability to work efficiently and effectively. Studies have shown that taking breaks throughout the workday can improve productivity and efficiency. For example, a study conducted by the Draugiem Group found that the most productive employees worked for 52 minutes and then took a 17-minute break. Additionally, research published in the journal Cognition found that taking breaks can help improve attention and performance on cognitive tasks. By taking breaks to rest and recharge, we can actually increase our efficiency and productivity in the long run.

Why We Avoid Rest

Despite the benefits of rest, many of us avoid it. There are several reasons why we may struggle to rest:

  • Societal Beliefs: We live in a culture that values productivity and busyness, often equating them with success. This makes us feel guilty or ashamed for taking time to rest. As a result, we may even feel like we need to justify our rest to others or be seen as lazy. It’s important to challenge these beliefs and recognize that rest is a valuable and necessary part of a healthy and balanced life.
  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): We may worry that we’ll miss out on opportunities or fall behind if we take time to rest. This FOMO can stem from the constant barrage of social media updates that portray everyone else’s lives as perfect and productive. It can be hard to recognize that rest is just as important as productivity, especially when we feel like we’re competing with others for success. However, taking time to rest can actually increase our productivity and help us achieve our goals in a more sustainable way.
  • Perfectionism: We may feel pressure to be perfect and believe that taking time to rest is a sign of weakness or failure. This belief is often reinforced by our surroundings, as we are bombarded with messages that praise the “hustle” and working non-stop. However, it’s important to remember that rest is not a sign of weakness, but a necessary component of self-care and productivity. By allowing ourselves to rest, we can actually improve our performance and achieve our goals more effectively.
  • Self-Doubt: We may believe that our worth is tied to our productivity and struggle to take time for ourselves. This belief can be deeply ingrained and challenging to overcome, but it’s essential to remember that our worth is not tied to our productivity. Taking time for ourselves and engaging in rest can actually improve our productivity and overall well-being in the long run. It’s important to challenge these limiting beliefs and give ourselves permission to rest without guilt or shame.
  • Avoidance: When we rest, our minds have time to think and reflect on things that we may have been avoiding. Unwanted thoughts, feelings, and sensations can arise, which can be uncomfortable or even painful. For some, staying busy and avoiding rest can be a coping mechanism to avoid confronting these difficult emotions. However, it’s important to recognize that avoiding rest can actually make these feelings more intense and difficult to manage in the long run. By allowing ourselves to rest, we give ourselves the opportunity to process and work through these emotions in a healthier way. It can be scary to confront these feelings, but it’s an important step towards healing and growth.

Changing Our Perspectives on Rest

In order to fully reap the benefits of rest, we need to change our perspectives on it. We need to view rest as productive and valuable as work. One of the main challenges in embracing rest as a productive and valuable activity is changing our perspective on what constitutes “productive” work. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that rest is a waste of time and that we should always be productive and busy. This belief is not only misguided, but it can also lead to burnout, stress, and physical and mental health problems.

To change our perspective on rest, we need to reframe our thinking about what constitutes productive work. Rather than seeing rest as a waste of time, we need to recognize that rest is a critical component of productivity and success. Rest allows us to recharge our batteries, boost our creativity, and improve our focus and concentration. When we embrace rest as a valuable activity, we can experience greater productivity, better health, and a higher quality of life. Here are some tips for changing our perspectives on rest:

  • Acknowledge the importance of rest: It’s important to recognize that rest is not a luxury or a waste of time, but rather an essential part of our overall well-being. When we view rest as an important part of self-care, we’re more likely to prioritize it in our lives. Rest helps to promote physical and mental health, reduces stress and fatigue, and increases our overall sense of well-being. By recognizing the importance of rest, we can make sure that we’re taking the necessary steps to care for ourselves. This may mean setting boundaries around work and other activities to ensure that we have dedicated time for rest, or incorporating rest into our daily routine in the form of meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques. It’s important to remember that self-care is not selfish, but rather a necessary component of overall health and well-being. When we take care of ourselves, we’re better equipped to care for others and to live our lives to the fullest.
  • Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and recognize that rest is a necessary part of taking care of yourself. Practicing self-compassion is essential when it comes to embracing rest. Being kind to yourself and acknowledging that you deserve rest and relaxation is the first step in making it a regular part of your routine. It’s important to remember that taking time for yourself is necessary to recharge and ensure that you are in a healthy state of mind and body. So, be gentle with yourself, and give yourself permission to rest without feeling guilty or ashamed.
  • Let go of perfectionism: Recognize that rest is not a sign of weakness or failure, but rather an essential part of being a productive and healthy person. Perfectionism can make us believe that taking breaks or resting is a waste of time that could be spent being productive. However, the truth is that rest is essential for our physical and mental health, and it can actually improve our productivity in the long run. By letting go of perfectionism and accepting that we all need rest, we can alleviate unnecessary stress and pressure and allow ourselves the time and space to recharge.
  • Set boundaries: Make rest a priority by setting boundaries and making time for it in your schedule. Setting boundaries around rest can help ensure that you are able to prioritize and protect your time for rest. This might include saying no to additional commitments or responsibilities when you need to rest, or communicating your need for rest with others in your life. For example, if you have a friend who frequently wants to make plans during your scheduled rest time, you might explain to them that you need that time for yourself and suggest an alternative time to connect. By setting these boundaries, you can create a routine and space for rest, and help yourself maintain a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.

7 Types of Rest

Image by @silkandsonder (Instagram)

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a physician, and author, has identified 7 types of rest that everyone needs. These 7 types of rest are discussed in depth in her book, Sacred Rest.

  1. Physical Rest: Physical rest is the most obvious type of rest and involves taking a break from physical activity to allow your body to recover. This can include sleeping, taking naps, or simply relaxing in a comfortable position.
  2. Mental Rest: Mental rest involves giving your mind a break from constant stimulation and activity. This can include taking a break from work or technology and engaging in activities that are relaxing and calming, such as meditation, reading, or taking a leisurely walk.
  3. Sensory Rest: Sensory rest involves giving your senses a break from overstimulation. This can include taking a break from bright lights, loud noises, and strong smells, and engaging in activities that are calming and soothing, such as taking a warm bath or practicing aromatherapy.
  4. Spiritual Rest: Spiritual rest involves taking time to connect with your inner self and your higher power. This can include engaging in prayer, meditation, or other spiritual practices that help you feel grounded and centered.
  5. Social Rest: Social rest involves taking a break from social interactions and activities that require social engagement. This can include spending time alone, engaging in solitary activities like reading or writing, or spending time in nature.
  6. Emotional Rest: Emotional rest involves taking a break from emotional stressors and allowing yourself to process and release emotions. This can include engaging in counselling, practicing mindfulness, or simply taking time for self-reflection.
  7. Creative Rest: Creative rest involves taking a break from creative activities that require mental and emotional energy. This can include engaging in activities that are restful and calming, such as listening to music, taking a leisurely walk, or spending time in nature.

By understanding these seven types of rest, we can begin to recognize when we need to take a break and which type of rest we need. For example, if we are feeling physically exhausted, we may need to focus on physical rest by getting more sleep or taking a nap. If we are feeling mentally drained, we may need to focus on mental rest by taking a break from work or technology and engaging in calming activities like meditation.

Ways to Embrace Rest

Here are some practical tips for embracing rest and incorporating it into your daily routine:

  • Prioritize rest: Make rest a priority in your life and recognize its importance for your physical and mental health.
  • Schedule rest time: Schedule rest time into your daily routine, just as you would schedule work or other activities. This will help ensure that you have dedicated time for rest and relaxation.
  • Set boundaries: Set boundaries around rest time and protect it from outside demands and distractions.
  • Experiment with different types of rest: Try different types of rest and see which ones work best for you. For example, you may find that you need more physical rest or more emotional rest, depending on your needs.
  • Be kind to yourself: Be kind to yourself and avoid feeling guilty or ashamed for taking time to rest. Remember that rest is productive and necessary for your well-being.
  • Challenge society’s view of rest: Challenge society’s mistaken belief that rest is unproductive or lazy. Recognize that rest is essential for productivity and creativity.
  • Reframe your thinking: Reframe your thinking about rest and view it as visible work. Just as you can see the results of your work, you can also see the benefits of rest in your physical, emotional, and mental health.
  • Practice mindfulness: Practice mindfulness during rest time by focusing on the present moment and letting go of any worries or distractions.
  • Engage in restorative activities: Engage in restorative activities during rest time, such as reading a book, taking a bath, or practicing yoga.

Rest is not only important but essential for our physical, emotional, and mental health. It’s time to change our perspective on rest and view it as productive and valuable as work. By embracing rest and prioritizing it in our daily routine, we can reap the benefits of improved health, productivity, and creativity. Remember to experiment with different types of rest and be kind to yourself throughout the process. At Constellations Counselling in Vancouver, we encourage our clients to embrace rest and incorporate it into their daily routine. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you on your journey to improved well-being.