The 7 Types of Rest that We All Need

Resting involves habits that go beyond sleeping. Do you know what types of rest you need? Find out here!
The 7 Types of Rest that We All Need
Leonardo Biolatto

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 11 June, 2023

Most people believe they need more sleep when they begin to experience physical and mental exhaustion. After all, it has been proven with evidence that sleeping between 7 and 9 hours a day can reduce fatigue. However, this is not always enough. Did you know that there are other types of rest?

First of all, we must start with the idea that sleep and rest are not the same thing. Clarifying this is important, as many people tend to confuse them.

Although the period of sleep is key to rest, by itself it isn’t enough to regain energy and vitality. We tell you more below.

Why is it important to rest?

Before knowing the different types of rest, it’s worth remembering its importance. Resting is one of the pillars of physical and mental well-being. In this sense, it not only involves ensuring optimal sleep, but also disconnecting from work, academic and family activities, among many others.

Its main objective is to promote the balance of mind, body, and spirit to increase the feeling of energy, creativity, productivity, mental clarity overall health. All this is reflected in better physical condition, better management of emotions, and less tendency to suffer ailments.

7 types of rest that the body needs

When the feeling of exhaustion is present, and also accompanied by stress, irritability, procrastination, and lack of motivation, among others, it’s important to prioritize rest. And it’s not only a matter of ensuring an optimal period of sleep, but also other forms of disconnection.

Let’s take a look at the different types of rest in detail.

1. Physical rest

Physical fatigue is one of the easiest to recognize. The limbs feel heavy, the eyes tend to close and it’s difficult to concentrate on most daily tasks.

If so, you should know that there are two types of physical rest: passive and active. Of course, the best known is passive, which encompasses activities such as sleeping and napping.

As explained in a publication in Nature and Science of Sleepsleep is a determinant for metabolic functions and energy balance. It’s also involved in memory and emotional regulation. For their part, short afternoon naps have been shown to improve cognitive performance and alertness for up to two hours after taking them.

And what does active physical rest refer to? These are other activities that contribute to the body’s relaxation:

An article from the Mayo Clinic highlights that the practice of these types of rest mitigates the physical and mental stress that the body may suffer on a daily basis. Among other things, it helps regulate heart and respiratory rate, stimulate circulation, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep quality, and calm fatigue.

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2. Mental rest

Most people have experienced that feeling that their head is “going to explode.” Thoughts become cloudy, it’s difficult to concentrate, and overwhelming emotions such as anxiety, anguish, stress, and sadness predominate.

As a result, it’s difficult to perform in academic or work activities; there is a noticeable state of irritability and it’s even difficult to fall asleep at night. The worst part? Sleeping is not enough to calm these symptoms.

Hence the importance of mental rest. What does it consist of?

Basically, it’s about disconnecting the mind from everything that has to do with daily obligations. Take a walk outdoors, find a quiet space, enjoy an aromatherapy session… any activity that allows you to take a break to “stop thinking”.

At this point, special emphasis should be placed on the digital detox. As reported in an article shared in Business & Information Systems Engineering, it consists of disconnecting completely from electronic devices to prevent and mitigate the effects of technostress.

And the fact is that constant exposure to technology is closely linked to the following:

  • Stress
  • Feeling of exhaustion
  • Increased risk of health problems
In the case of working with computers or any electronic device, it’s recommended to take breaks every hour and a half. You can do, for example, stretching and breathing exercises.

3. Sensory rest

The current lifestyle generates hyperstimulation of the brain due to exposure to screens, bright lights, noise, traffic, strong smells, and, in general, environments with a lot of movement.

Over time, and without adequate rest, this detonates irritability, avoidance of physical contact, visual discomfort, muscle tension, insomnia, and prolonged fatigue. Therefore, another type of rest that should not be neglected is sensory rest.

A very simple way to implement it throughout the day is to close your eyes for a few minutes during active breaks. It’s also recommended to practice deep breathing and meditation techniques. If you can, find a quiet space, away from bright lights.

Of course, here it’s also key to disconnect from all electronic devices for several minutes throughout the day. Also, at night you should avoid using them an hour or two before bedtime.

Research shared in Healthcare details that the use of electronic devices before bedtime significantly affects sleep quality. This, coupled with the stress and hyperstimulation they cause in the brain, explains why they are a trigger for prolonged fatigue.

4. Creative rest

A creative mind is constantly working on solving problems and generating new ideas. However, there comes a time when frustration, multitasking, and stress affect these creative abilities. This is when it’s almost mandatory to consider a creative break.

This consists of taking your mind off the particular art for a moment and concentrating on other things. Listening to music, spending a day watching series, sharing time with friends or, in general, doing any other hobby.

The break can be for hours, days, or even weeks. The important thing is to let the mind recharge with other activities to regain energy and inspiration.

A good option is to take advantage of the time to connect with nature.

A study reported in Frontiers in Psychiatry reported that being in natural environments stimulates curiosity, encourages flexibility and imagination, distracts the mind from work, and boosts creative ideas.

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5. Emotional Rest

The constant search for external approval, attachment to close people, the need to help solve others’ problems, and, in general, excessive empathy are the reasons why many experience constant burnout. The worst part? Few realize it.

The truth of it all is that it’s necessary to take a break to work internally and develop self-awareness. Emotional rest involves getting to know oneself better, being able to express emotions, explore and process current and past life situations, and building a better version of oneself.

In other words, it’s spending time alone and prioritizing one’s own needs over those of others. One of the first steps to achieve this is to learn to say no and let go of the need to please others. This should not be seen as a selfish act, but as a fundamental step to strengthen your self-esteem.

In relation to this, a study shared via Cognitive Therapy and Research details the following about alone time:

  • It helps with stress management.
  • It increases life satisfaction.
  • Alone time promotes positive psychological adjustment.

6. Social break

The social break is related to an emotional break. It involves giving yourself space to think about your relationships and what they are bringing to your life. In other words, it’s identifying those friendships that somehow drain or stagnate you, as well as those that nurture you and help you grow.

On the other hand, it’s about prioritizing what you really want to do and leaving aside those social obligations that you don’t feel good about or that don’t generate genuine desire. In addition, she suggests getting away from social networks for a while, as these also exhaust and create dependency.

Maintaining positive, authentic relationships with whom you can share your goals and desires is a good way to recharge socially. On the contrary, it’s better to stay away from people who only add drama, gossip, and negativity.

7. Spiritual rest

One of the types of rest that many people ignore is spiritual rest. What exactly does this refer to? Spiritual rest is about taking time to connect with a type of energy that goes beyond the physical and mental.

Some people call it a “spa for the soul”. This is a space to forgive, heal, increase self-acceptance, and strengthen self-esteem.

Research reported in Frontiers in Psychology highlights that spirituality is related to healthy lifestyle behaviors and, above all, to a greater state of psychological well-being.

Some achieve this through religious practices; however, it’s not the only way. Other resources, such as meditation, volunteering, practicing yoga, or spending time in natural environments also help.

Do you already practice these types of rest?

Ultimately, rest encompasses habits that go beyond sleep. Although the period of sleep is key to recovering energy, it’s not enough on its own.

It’s a good idea to disconnect from daily tasks and adopt habits that not only promote relaxation of the body and mind, but also increase creativity, self-esteem, and self-awareness. In any case, it’s important to remember that exhaustion and prolonged fatigue can also be indicative of a health problem.

If they do not improve as the days go by, it’s best to consult a doctor.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.