It’s a topic I have explored deeply over the last few years, so much so that I have created a business around prioritising rest. 


Because I never really valued rest. I always thought it was a waste of time, there were always so many other more important things to do. But when I found I was sleeping 8-9 hours a night, yet I was still waking up feeling exhausted, I knew something wasn’t right.  I had all the blood tests done, my iron was a bit low, but nothing could explain the lack of energy and depletion I felt.

We go through life thinking we’ve rested because we’ve had enough sleep — but in reality many of us are waking up feeling exhausted because we’re lacking rest in lots of different areas of our life. 

Rest is also not valued by society, so we don’t prioritise it. But it’s the #1 problem I hear from women who come on retreat over the years.

We’ve been conditioned to keep going no matter what. To turn on our superwoman powers so we can keep up with the fast paced, over-culture we live in, one where we’re over-achieving, over-producing and over-giving wins every time.

And it’s leaving us chronically tired as a result. 

A few years ago I came across Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith talk about rest, and she explained that we need seven types of rest in order to truly thrive. I felt it explained why the answer to exhaustion, depletion and burnout  isn’t simply to get more sleep, it’s identifying the types of rest you need in different areas of your life and then adopting small daily habits and routines to replenish them.

If you’re waking up feeling exhausted, or you struggle with your energy day to day, you may be experiencing a rest deficit in a particular area of your life. So let’s explore the seven areas now.

1. Physical Rest 

The first type of rest we need is physical rest – both passive and active. Passive rest is sleeping and taking a nap. Active rest is things like yoga, pilates, massage or gentle stretching. Any activity that helps improve the body’s circulation and flexibility.

Signs that you have a physical rest deficit are body aches and pain, stiffness in your shoulders and jaw, or swelling in your legs and feet after sitting at your desk all day.

If your body feels physically tired, you need to prioritise more physical rest. If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, look at your evening and morning routines. How you start your day and end your day will have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. 

2. Mental Rest 

The second type of rest we need is mental rest. When you feel mentally tired, it feels like you have dozens of tabs open in your mind all at once and you struggle to concentrate. If you are mentally tired, you might find it difficult to fall asleep at night because your mind is racing, and you struggle to quieten the mental chatter. Or you walk into a room to get something, and you can’t remember what you came in to get. If you struggle to concentrate or recall information, you need mental rest. It’s time to start closing down those tabs in your head.

Practicing mindfulness, having a meditation practice, and pausing regularly throughout your day, will help to calm your overthinking mind and give your mind the rest it needs.

3. Sensory Rest 

The third type of rest we need is sensory rest. In today’s technological world, we are bombarded by sensory inputs. Phones pinging, the light in the office or the backlight of your phone and computer, the noise of the TV, or your kids iPad playing in the background.  The number one way most of us respond to sensory overload is irritation, agitation, or anger. If you have a sensory rest deficit, you may find that you feel good at the beginning of the day, but by the end of the day you’re irritable, short-tempered and frustrated.

The best way to get sensory rest is to be aware of your surroundings. Unplug from as many sensory inputs as you can and be aware of how these inputs negatively impacts your behaviour day to day and adjust accordingly.

4. Emotional Rest 

The fourth type of rest we need is emotional rest. This is the rest we experience when we feel calm and we’re able to be real and authentic with others in how we feel. Many of us carry quite a bit of emotional baggage around with us and we struggle to be honest and share our feelings with others.  

If you’re suffering from an emotional rest deficit you may feel the weight of the emotional burden you carry, all those expectations and pressure, and you suppress your feelings instead of sharing them. You may feel you have to self-silence and keep your emotions in check, you may also feel the constant need to please others.

Emotional rest requires the courage to be authentic. To speak up for what you need and be free to express how you feel with those closest to you.

If you’re in need of emotional rest, you’re probably in need of social rest as well.

5. Social Rest 

The fifth type of rest we need is social rest.

When we have a social rest deficit, it means we’re spending too much time with people who drain our energy. Social rest is the rest we feel when we’re in solitude or when we’re around positive people who give us energy. Most of us spend a lot of our time around people who need a lot of our energy.

If you feel like you never get time for yourself or, you feel like everyone is constantly draining your energy, it’s time for some social rest. This could be time on your own in solitude, but it could also be choosing to spend more time with people in your life who give you energy, your life giving people. Those people, who after spending some time with, you walk away from feeling really good, like your energy has been restored.  

6. Creative Rest

The sixth type of rest we need is creative rest. This is the rest we experience when we slow down enough and allow ourselves to see the awe and wonder in the beauty of life. From the beauty of nature to the beauty in music, arts or dance.

When you have a creative deficit, you have a hard time problem solving or coming up with new ideas. Creativity is more than just being artistic; it’s any type of innovation or self-expression. Because many of us don’t see ourselves as creative, we never think about how we could reinvigorate our creative energy.

Spending time in nature, and turning spaces in your home or at work into places of inspiration and joy are two great ways to reduce your creative rest deficit.

7. Spiritual Rest

The final type of rest we need is spiritual rest. This relates to our fundamental need to belong. When we have a spiritual rest deficit, we may feel like our life is lacking purpose and fulfilment.

Spiritual rest is our ability to connect beyond our physical and mental world and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose. We need to be able to connect with our spiritual beliefs, whatever that is for you, God, universe, spirit. We also need to engage and contribute to society in a meaningful way, either through paid work or non-paid work such as volunteering.

If you don’t feel like your life has meaning or purpose, you will continue to feel exhausted at a soul level. You will feel like things are out of alignment and it will drain you.  

Perhaps your life looks good on paper, you have built a very successful life on the outside but perhaps you have neglected what’s happening on the inside.

Whether due to a lack of time, a lack of awareness, or a false belief that you lack worth, many of us neglect our own needs, and therefore experience rest deficits in one or more of these seven key areas of life. Bringing attention to our personal needs is vital as it allows us to do the inner work necessary to truly connect with, and truly understand ourselves.

If you’re feeling exhausted and depleted, what are 1-2 areas where you might have a significant deficit? What type of exhaustion are you suffering from? The area that I have needed the most rest has been emotional and social rest. I started there and the more I focused on what kind of exhaustion I was feeling, I could quickly shift my focus to that area I needed rest in.

We have to get better at being aware of our depletion levels in each area of our life so we don’t get to the point of exhaustion, overwhelm and burnout, because the road out from there is that much harder to come back from.

It’s the awareness of the things we do each day that will make the biggest difference to our overall health and wellbeing. 

 All you need are a few small things you can start doing today. 

IS IT TIME TO START PRIORITISING REST?    If you’re feeling the need to calm your busy mind and connect with yourself on a deeper level, we have a number of retreat experiences and a monthly reset session to help you pause and slow down. Your retreat experience will help you redefine your relationship with rest and help you reduce the exhaustion that impacts areas of your life. With attention and intention, you’ll gain greater clarity and focus you’ve been seeking. Click here to find our more about upcoming retreat experiences