Seven types of rest

Julia Richards, Enhance One learning and development consultant and medical herbalist, asks: are you resting effectively?

A narrated version of this blog is available at the bottom of the page.

September 2020 has seen the return of schools, sports, businesses and some cultural venues after a long period of lockdown.  For some, this has meant getting back into the full swing of things after a period of living and working at a slower pace.  However, as a third sector leader, you probably didn’t get the chance to slow down (and as I write this, further local and national restrictions are being implemented again).  You and your team have most likely worked even harder and longer to adapt your services to meet the needs of your clients and find new revenue streams to sustain your organisation.  All the while, you’ve had to do this with less staff due to inevitably placing some on furlough and making others redundant.  To top it off, your volunteer numbers may be down due to many of them self- isolating or shielding.  Moments of rest have probably been few and far between and this will have been taking a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health. 

This leads me to ask, when you do get the opportunity, are you resting effectively? 

Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith has identified seven different types of rest required to really feel restored. She argues that we need to do something in all seven areas to rest well.  The pressures you are under as a leader mean effective rest is key to help you have the stamina required to constantly adapt to ever-changing conditions and to have a life, not just a living.

Seven types of rest

  1. Mental: The ability to quieten mental chatter and focus on things that matter.
  2. Spiritual: Dalton-Smith states this is the capacity to experience God in all things and recline in the knowledge of the Holy.  Some may be put off by this.  However, I think you can apply it to whatever religious or spiritual beliefs you hold.  To me, this is about taking the time to connect to the world around you. 
  3. Emotional: The freedom to express your honest feelings and eliminate people-pleasing behaviours.
  4. Social: The ability to recognise relationships that fuel and drain you, with the courage to avoid or eliminate the drainers.
  5. Sensory: The opportunity to reduce the constant sensory input received from electronics, media, fragrances and background noise.
  6. Creative: The experience of allowing beauty to inspire and spark ways of expressing yourself.  
  7. Physical: The chance to use your body in restorative ways to decrease aches and pains and other stress-related symptoms and thereby promote health. 

Tips for scheduling rest activities into your day

Mental restWhen you eat or drink don’t do anything else. Take micro-breaks several times a day:  close your eyes, take some deep breaths and do nothing, stretch, or go outside.  Set an alarm to remind you. Do some mindless admin like tidying your desk or filing. Get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper which you can then shred.
Spiritual restNotice the changes in light and temperature at the start and end of the day. Look out of your window daily and notice changes in nature.  Take a few moments to listen to some uplifting music/podcast or read some inspirational words. Pray or list down five things you are grateful for each day.
Emotional restKnow your own goals and intentions so you can say yes to what matters. Start saying no to things you do to please others so you have more time to do the things that are on your agenda. After a happy/sad, enjoyable/awful, creative/boring, easy/stressful experience take a few moments to reflect on what feelings this gave you and which ones you observed in others. Learn to express your feelings rather than bottling them up:  “I feel X when you [list the behaviour].”
Social restIncrease contact with people who energise you and reduce it with those who don’t.
Sensory restDo something every few hours to awaken your senses: set up a sensory draw at your desk with a favourite essential oil or perfume to smell, herbal teas and nourishing snacks to eat and drink, something to feel like a stress ball or massage roller.  You could also set up a sensory station in the office. Take an electronic break: listen to music; get some fresh air, stroke a pet, or stand barefoot on the grass.
Creative restMake time (a five-minute break or commute time) to enjoy the arts live or online: look at works of art or artefacts, watch or listen to a play, opera, ballet, dance or comedy.  Start an art review club at work to discuss books, plays, music etc. Can you take up a creative hobby? There are many online classes at the moment.  Get an adult colouring-in book and pencils and keep it by your desk to colour-in for a few minutes several times a day or doodle/sketch something. Set up a team show and tell of everyone’s creative outputs.
Physical restGoogle chair exercises and chair yoga and do these throughout the day – you could even get the whole team/office doing them at the same time. Have a short walk daily. Get in some other form of exercise before or after work regularly.

Over to you! I’d love to hear how you are resting effectively.

Narrated by a member of the ACEVO staff

Image credit: The Siesta (ca. 1892–94) by Paul Gauguin. Original from The MET Museum. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel. Free Public Domain CC0 Image ID :  1233862

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