‘Rest’ Is More Than Sleep – What Kind Of Tired Are You? (+podcast)

Wednesday, January 26 2022 by Marya Morgan

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Man sitting in van looking out back at woods, we see his feet, water bottle and his guitar
Unsplash/Mahir Uysal

(K-LOVE Closer Look) – Everyone knows sleep is essential and it remains the most common way to think about the idea of ‘rest.'  Rest, however, is the root of the word ‘restoration’ – and restoration is a principle that medical internist Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith finds crucial to seven distinct areas of your life. “Rest isn’t just the cessation of activity,” she explains, suggesting that to maintain optimal health “you have to get to the point of knowing what restores you. What fills you back up?”

Most of the seven types of rest defined by Dr. Dalton-Smith are self-explanatory, like physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. She adds to those the concepts of social, sensory and creative rest. 

Social rest comes with assessing your relationships for whether they are positive or instead drain you of your sense of well-being. Sensory rest could be a need for people who stare at computer screens all day, or consume constant negative input from social media or who are routinely exposed to excessive lights and sounds in their environment. 

Creative rest is the most misunderstood, Dr. Dalton-Smith says with a laugh, because though most people have never heard the term, “many have already experienced it but didn’t know it was what they were enjoying.”

In other words, she explains, if you ‘feel better’ at the ocean or in the mountains or feel revived when you visit museums or art galleries, then you have experienced creative rest. She cites brain studies where MRIs prove just viewing a photo of your ‘happy place’ can be as effective as being there. “It’s the rest that occurs when we allow ourselves to experience beauty – either natural or man-made beauty,” with the goal of awakening our childlike awe and wonder. 

“Put a screenshot on your computer or your phone lockscreen of things that inspire you,” she urges. “What’s beautiful to you? What can you look at that makes you feel more motivated and energized?”

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith headshot

Dr. Dalton-Smith says the first step to addressing your current exhaustion is to identify your own unique rest deficits then deliberately focus on improving just that one. She encourages you to ask yourself, ‘am I doing something that’s pouring back into me?’ because that’s when you start feeling better.”


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