7 kinds of Rest to Master The Art of Disconnecting

“It’s not working. I’ve been trying for such a long time!”, she said, feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

“Have you tried unplugging it? Just take it off its power source, wait for 60 seconds, and switch it back on. See if that works”, he said.

And voila, it did!

We’ve all done this at some point in time. When a device started to glitch, and nothing else seemed to work, we switched it off, prayed for it to work, and then plugged it back in. 8 times out of 10, it worked because the machine got a chance to power down and reboot itself.

If 60 seconds of rest can do that to a machine, imagine what 60 seconds of disconnecting with a stressor can do to a human. In a way, humans work similar to machines. The brain works like the central processor, filtering and responding to external stimuli every waking moment. Most of us have a highly dependent relationship with our phones and computers, so much so that we pick up the phone and squint at our phone in the middle of night if we hear a notification ping.

What most of us don’t realise is that this messes with our sleep cycles and gives rise to other health issues. As the sensory overload increases, the mind starts getting tired, and the body spirals towards a burnout.

A 2019 TED Talk by internal medicine physician, Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD emphasises the importance of rest. She says that while sleep is essential for survival, rest—conscious relaxation—is too. According to Dr. Dalton-Smith, there are 7 types of rest: mental, spiritual, emotional, social, sensory, creative, and physical. Our body needs a healthy dose of all 7 kinds to feel centred, well-balanced and well-rested.

Here is how you can disconnect from your daily stresses and pamper yourself with 7 kinds of Rest :

  1. Mental Rest: Disconnect from activities that require mental exertion. Steal 15 minutes away from the office or your WFH schedule. Spend that time on activities which don’t require you to think too much – listen to some music or water your plants or take a walk around the office. A short vacation away from your city is a great way to unplug from work, and give yourself a much needed- and a well-deserved- break.
  2. Spiritual Rest: Rather than disconnecting from something, spiritual rest is where you connect with yourself via meditation or prayer. In India, spiritual rest is often practised during the morning and the evening aarti when families carve out time in their daily schedule to come together and pray.
  3. Emotional Rest: Externalising what you feel, either by writing it down or by having an honest conversation, allows you to disconnect with the intensity of your emotions, which relieves the burden on your mind and body, helping them relax.
  4. Social Rest: It doesn’t mean you become a recluse. Rather, it asks you to spend time with only a select few who feed their own positive energy into your energy, maybe a close friend, or a parent who can help you unwind and ease your mind.
  5. Sensory Rest: Considering how most of us are glued to our phones or computers for more than 4-5 hours a day, our eyes need regular ‘digital detox’. Even a simple habit of putting away all devices 30 minutes before you settle in for the night will allow the brain activity to naturally slow down so you can sleep better and wake up feeling rested.
  6. Creative Rest: Everybody experiences mental fog once in a while, when the creative juices run out and the brain stops functioning. A great way to engage in creative rest is to spend time doing things that fuel your creativity. Take a couple of crayons and just doodle for a few minutes. Listen to a podcast or play an instrument. Take pictures from your phone while lying down on the floor, to see things from a new perspective.
  7. Physical Rest: At least once a week, take a physical break from your schedule. If you exercise every day, take a break on the weekend. If you don’t exercise, just sleep in longer, or catch a midday snooze. Mental stress can create physical stress in your body, so taking a physical rest will allow your muscles to relax and ease out the tension. Additionally, a good massage may soothe your muscles and lull your body into a deeper state of rest.

It’s not difficult to learn the art of disconnecting. We just need to be more attentive to the subtle signals where our body tells us that it is time to rest. By practising these mindful habits and setting daily reminders to check in with ourselves, we can disconnect with our stressors and achieve a better work-life balance.

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