Mental Health Tips
December 21, 2021

7 Types of Rest and How to Get Them

Written by
Erika Wright-Garcia, LMFT
Reviewed by
Updated on

We are in the holiday season and quickly approaching the end of 2021, and many of us are likely feeling burned out, exhausted, and ready for a break. But, you might be wondering what you can do to actually take care of and nourish yourself. Do you need to welcome more sleep, connection or passion into your life? 

Getting rest is often associated with sleep. However, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith MD inspires us to consider a broader, more holistic approach to caring for ourselves and our needs, and teaches us that there is much more to rest than just sleep — in fact, there are seven types of rest. Depending on our individual needs and current context, we all require different types of rest at different times. 

The Seven Types of Rest

Whether you want to practice one or all of these types of rest, here are some ideas for how you can go about it.


To engage in mental rest, try taking breaks from tasks, practicing time management, setting healthy boundaries, and focusing your attention on one task at a time.


Engage with something greater than yourself that brings you a feeling of belonging and connection. This can look like engagement with a religious practice, prayer, or meditation, or simply being in nature. 


Emotional rest can be found by connecting with yourself, using emotional granularity techniques to identify your emotions, expressing your emotions and needs with authenticity, and holding boundaries that support your emotional needs. 


Practice social rest by connecting to relationships that are balanced and bring you a sense of mutuality and support. Holding boundaries around social engagements and the amount of your energy you give to others is helpful as well. 


In a world where we are constantly connected, take a break from sensory inputs by limiting your time on screens. Consider dimming the lights, playing calming music, wrapping yourself up in a warm blanket or wearing your favorite comfortable clothing, or drinking warm tea. Listen to your senses and think about what helps to soothe each one.


Engage in creative rest by participating in activities that inspire you. Consider reconnecting with the arts, creating a vision board of creative interests and aspirations, or finding an image that inspires beauty and keeping it accessible — like as the home screen on your phone.


When thinking about physical rest, consider whether active, passive or a combination would be best for you. This can look like sleeping, napping, practicing certain types of yoga or stretching.

How to Get the Rest You Need

As you close out this year, take some time to slow down and explore the seven types of rest to identify which might need some attention. To do this, you might consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • What contexts or experiences have felt stressful or depleting for you recently? 
  • Have you been engaging in activities that you know bring you joy? If not, what has fallen by the wayside?
  • How have you (or haven’t you) been meeting your mental, spiritual, emotional, social, sensory, creative and physical needs? 

Once you have identified what types of rest you’d like to lean into, set your intentions and make a plan. Include which specific rest activities you would like to engage in, develop a routine, and set yourself up for success by setting boundaries and limiting distractions during times of rest. 

Rest is all about restoration, and if your current routine isn’t meeting your needs, now can be a great time to reinvent your approach!

Therapy can be a great resource for taking care of yourself. Schedule a call with a care advisor to learn more or book a matching consult appointment today.

If you or someone you know is seeking mental health care, you can reach out to our Care Coordination team at or by phone at (415) 202-5159.

If you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency or crisis and needs immediate help, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Additional resources can be found here.

Let us find the right therapist for you

Book Matching Appointment

Let us find the right therapist for you

Book Matching Appointment

A mental health practice built for you

We’re always interested in meeting talented, mission-driven clinicians. Take a look at our open positions, and get to know life at Two Chairs.
See Open Positions