In the past year I've learned a lot more about what it means to be healthy. Prior to this time last year, I thought that health was just physical. If you take care of your body, i.e. exercise, eat well, sleep 8 hours, drink enough water, etc., then everything will be fine.
That was before I learned about the seven types of rest.
It was on my favorite podcast, "Girls Night" with Stephanie May Wilson, that I learned that each of us has a unique set of needs in order to feel fully rested. Sleep just isn't enough. Steph brought on Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, who explained that we exercise different parts of our bodies and brains all the time, and we should rest each of those areas on a regular basis.
So, the seven types of rest: physical rest (sleep, taking a break from workouts, stretching), mental rest (doing a puzzle, coloring, anything that puts your mind at ease), social rest (taking time away from the people who drain you, and spending more time with the people who fill you up), creative rest (taking a break from producing and instead spending time in creation, listening to music, etc.), emotional rest (stepping away from difficult conversations, or working through difficult things in counseling), spiritual rest (spending time with Jesus), and sensory rest (putting the phone down, turning off the noise, etc.).
Rest just got a whole lot more complicated, didn't it?
Friends, I had no idea. It's wild to think that we should be doing all of these things in order to feel full and well rested. It's not as simple as a nap (although when you read 1 Kings 19, you see that two naps and a nice meal definitely make you less cranky).
The best part about all of this is that Dr. Dalton-Smith actually has a free quiz that you can take in order to identify what areas you need the most rest in, and also how to go about doing it.
When I took the quiz a year ago, I was rest deficient in every. single. area. I was struggling through each day without even realizing that other people don't feel this exhausted all the time. I thought it was normal.
But as I began to read through my quiz results, I noticed that the area where I was the most deficient was in "creative rest." At first this made no sense to me, but the more I thought about it the more I realized how hard and how often I do exercise the creative side of my brain. I'm a dance teacher, a writer, and head of decor at my day job. No wonder I need creative rest!
Since taking the quiz I have made an effort to practice creative rest. Hiking in the mountains, listening to symphonies, and reading a fiction book are all ways that I find creative rest.
While creative rest was my major area of concern, my emotional rest numbers weren't so hot, either. I began to notice my thought patterns, that my brain would pick at a single loose thread and then completely unravel. I was stuffing emotions, determined not to let them control me, and yet the more I resisted the more I began to feel like I had no control.
And so while I noticed those things last year, it wasn't until almost three months ago that I decided enough is enough. I started going to counseling, and let me just tell you two highly contradictory statements: 1) An hour long counseling session is absolutely without the most difficult part of my week, and 2) It is the single most best decision I have ever made to go (and to continue going).
My close friends periodically ask me, "How's counseling going?" to which I can only respond, "It's not fun and I don't like it, but I need it." I don't think that anyone particularly wants to dive back into their past, or take the time to recognize how it influences their future. But because we are broken people living in a broken world, we all have baggage and different pieces of history that make us who we are. And rather than allowing that baggage to direct where we go, we need to do the hard work of exposing it and understanding it so that we can be in charge. Counseling is a mental and emotional workout, just like spending time in the gym is a physical workout.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And you may think that you don't have anything that needs to be worked out in front of a professional licensed counselor. But I promise, you do. So I encourage you today to make an appointment. Call a friend and ask for accountability. And then go. God will meet you there. He longs to see you happy and whole and well rested.