A Change is as Good as a Rest

Or so my mum always says. Honestly, though, I'm not sure my mum is the person whose advice you should take on this subject. She never stops. She was 89 last month and she's still always on the go.

Mind you. I'm not one to say anything about it either. You? Thought so...

But she has a point. There is a theory, developed by Sandra Daulton Smith that we need 7 different kinds of rest. And they're not really about doing nothing. They're about doing the things we need.

Physical Rest

This is about resting our bodies. But it's not about sitting around doing nothing. It is about taking care of our bodies in a conscious way. It might involve stretching, or yoga or walking. It also means working on our sleep.

Mental Rest

Many of us having problems switching our minds off. Not only do we do demanding jobs, we live in an over stimulating world. So this might mean organising our lives so work doesn't seep into our off time. It might mean putting our devices to one side or muting them for a while. It could involve making time for short brain breaks. It might mean some proper down-time before bed.

Emotional Rest

We do a lot of emotional work - especially when part of our job is to deal with the emotions of children and young people who may not be very good at dealing with their own emotions. We do emotional work too, when we put our own feelings aside for the sake of others. Emotional rest might involve giving time to processing our own emotions. It might also involve speaking honestly about our own emotions - although you might not want to start with year 9 on a Friday afternoon.

Social Rest

This is not just about having a rest from people - although our levels of introversion and extroversion can have a big impact on our needs for social rest. It's also about finding rest in the right kind of people - the people we can be most ourselves with. The people with whom we can share the stuff that really matters - and the people with whom we can laugh and cry deeply. When we work in schools we spend a lot of time with a lot of people - but with just a very particular part of ourselves. We need to balance that with people who get the other parts.

Sensory Rest

We live with sensory overload - continual noise from devices, from various kind of alarm, from other people and with bright lights and constant motion. Silence stillness and darkness can be incredibly restorative. But so can focussing on one sense at once. Closing your eyes and listening to whatever comes can be a basis for a meditation. So can listing to yourself what you can see, hear, touch, smell and taste.

Creative Rest

Spending time doing something creative can be a kind of rest in itself, using parts of the brain that we haven't accessed in a while. But sometimes we need to give ourselves the mental space to be creative. Sometimes we need to learn the art of purposelessness, in order to allow new ideas to happen. Sometimes appreciating other people's creativity - perhaps as art or music - can help enrich our own.

Spiritual Rest

I'm not someone who would describe myself as religious or spiritual, so this is harder for me to grasp - but I think at heart it is about connecting with something bigger than yourself. For me, this is nature. There's a restoration that I find in connecting with nature which I don't find anywhere else. For others it might come with connecting with community or a worthwhile purpose.

Ultimately we'll find our own ways of connecting with each of these kinds of rest - and if we pay attention we'll find the ones that we need the most.

And always, the thing we need the most, is the time to stop and figure out what works for us.