The Seven Types of Rest to Avoid Burnout

As mentioned in our latest episode, burnout can be difficult to overcome. However, it is not impossible. The Seven Types of Rest could be your answer. First outlined in Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s book titled Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity, these seven types of rest are important to incorporate in your everyday life to ward off the early signs of burnout. And no, these seven types of rest are not seven types of sleeping. They are rather a set of activities or routines you can do that mentally, emotionally or even spiritually allow you to reset, so you can work and live to your fullest, without ever feeling depleted of energy or motivation.

The seven types are as follows: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, creative, social and sensory. It is important to regularly engage with these different types of rest so that you don’t become a victim of burnout. However, it is recommended that things like physical, emotional and mental rests are performed daily, as these include things that are beneficial to your overall health, such as exercising, meditating or journaling.

1. Physical Rest

Physical rest includes both passive activities, like lounging on the sofa or sleeping, as well as more active activities, such as exercising or yoga. If you are lacking physical rest, you may feel tired or suffer from aches and pains in your body. Here is a non-exhaustive list of activites you can do to give your body the rest it needs:

  • sleeping
  • napping
  • yoga
  • stretching
  • exercising
  • message therapy

2. Mental Rest

If you feel like you mind is racing with anxious thoughts, are more forgetful than usual or feel like you can’t concentrate under any circumstance, you might be in need of a mental break. Scheduling breaks between work can help your mind decompress and reset. Here are some activities you can do whilst on those breaks:

  • journaling
  • breathwork
  • meditation
  • short walk
  • brain dumping

3. Emotional Rest

Taking on everybody else’s work because you can’t say ‘no’? Busy making sure everybody else has everything they need, you neglected yourself in the process? Suddenly feeling irritable and frustrated with everything and everyone? These are signs you might need to emotionally take a break. Feeling emotionally rested allows one to be their most authentic and calm self, where they are able to be truthful and share their experiences with others. These are some things you can do to take back control of your life and feel emotionally fulfilled:

  • talking to someone you trust or a professional about anything that is currently troubling you,
  • saying goodbye to toxic friends, partners or acquaintances,
  • and limiting people-pleasing; learning to say ‘no’ more often.

4. Spiritual Rest

Feeling spiritually fulfilled is essentially to happiness in human beings. A branch of psychology, called Positive Psychology, identified that having a religion or faith can dramatically increase your happiness, as it provides us with this sense of belonging we so deeply crave as a species. If you are spiritually deficient, it may be because the work you do does not fulfil a greater purpose or goal of yours, as well as not feeling like you belong in a particular environment anymore. Here are some things you can do to find purpose but also re-connect with your higher-self:

  • meditate
  • volunteer
  • participate in community projects
  • if you can afford to do so, change job to something which aligns with your values and goals

5. Creative Rest

For my fellow writers and artists out there, being in a creative rut (or writer’s block) is more common than you might think. However, even if you are not an artist per se, everyone needs creative rest. Creativity allows us to see the beauty in art form and express ourselves to achieve catharsis. Here are some ways to encourage creative rest in your life:

  • go for a walk in nature
  • paint or draw (or doodle random things if you’re like me and a terrible artist)
  • read
  • listen to music and dance along

6. Social Rest

If you’re burnout out, you can feel as thought you have spent too much time around others and are exhausted, thus feel the need to hermit and be alone for a while. However, social rest encourages you to maintain a healthy balance of alone time-social time. In those ‘social times’, seek relationships that are meaningful and positive, hang out with people who add value to your life and engage in social events which make you feel energised and recharged.

7. Sensory Rest

This last type of rest is often overlooked but ever so important in the current world of indulgence we live in. When our phones are buzzing with notifications every two minutes, or we’re scrolling for hours on TikTok or having news constantly blasted into our ears, it can get overwhelming and overstimulating for all our senses. A sensory rest calls for turning or storing away devices (phones, computers, TVs, etc.) for a while and reconnecting with silence. One way you can do this is by taking a walk in a quiet forest or park with no music or meditating in silence, simply focusing on your breath. Taking some time out to read a book with no other distractions can also help calm down your senses and relax. It may be worth having a day off devices (or at least social media) to disconnect with the online world and reconnect with reality.


Ensure that you are also working towards or are in a job that aligns with your values, as one of the biggest misconceptions about burnout is that you are simply stressed and overworked, but burnout can also come from a lack of direction or purpose in life, as well as doing a job that does not align with your values or goals. If you can afford to do so, reconsider your path and consider what your purpose in life really is and where you want to make an impact on the world.

By engaging in these types of rest, you are more likely to avoid burning out ever again. Remember that you do not have to do all of these straight away, and take your time coming out of a difficult period. Reach out to someone if you need help.

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