The 18 Types of Rest We Need

The 18 Types of Rest We Need

If the title alone of this piece ( “Eighteen types of rest? Exhausting”) made you feel tired, please join the club. 

If the thought of reading the whole thing is also tiring and you’ll probably skim, you are also invited to join the club.

Also welcome in the club are those who have returned to work, chores, kids and regular life after a weekend away

no, a week away…

 …a whole summer away…

 ….and find themselves still very, very tired. Please join the club.

The club also extends membership to those who have few “material,” outward-facing obligations, such as demanding jobs, four altruistic hobbies, and a whole gaggle of offspring, pets, parents, and assorted care responsibilities. The people whom society deems shouldn’t be tired (yet they still find themselves dragging their soul through the days with a heaviness that won’t lift, despite the reminder that they “have it easy”). They are welcome in the club.

I am going to name the club Most If Not All People. Will you be joining us?

Rest goes beyond extra sleep at the weekend and turning your work phone off (I don’t know many people that even do both of those, and there I go framing it as the minimum). 

We humans need good-quality, nourishing, real rest on a reliably regular basis and very, very, very few people are getting it. Rested bodies and minds are less anxious and more at ease, they make better-informed decisions, they are nicer to strangers, more thoughtful, compassionate, considerate, able to ingest and have a patient discussion about nuanced and complex information…

Huh, it’s almost like society doesn’t want rested citizens…maybe because tiredness keeps us compliant and consuming?

Stop it, you can’t put that, it’s too political

I can put what I want, go away. No one is reading properly anyway, no one READS all the words anymore. We are too busy and tired. 

We humans seem to love to stratify the complexity of life into stages, steps, processes and types and rest is no different. A fellow human has therefore compiled the types of rest we need. Let’s look at them, be a bit horrified by their inaccessibility, and then add our own, shall we?

The first 7 types of rest

The seven types of rest we need, according to Saundra Dalton-Smith, are: 

Physical rest: both passive rest, such as sleeping and napping, and active rest, like yoga and stretching. Utterly crucial for the body’s recovery and overall health. 

Mental rest: a rest from the frenetic frenzied thoughts that accompany many of us.

Emotional rest: A rest from hiding our feelings or pretending to be strong or without emotion.

Social rest: resting from those who drain our energy.

Spiritual rest: engaging in activities that connect us with something greater than ourselves, whether through religion, nature, meditation, or art, in the pursuit of fulfillment and peace.

Sensory rest: stepping away from electronics, embracing natural settings, or seeking out quiet, while creative rest encompasses engaging with the arts, nature, or any activity that reawakens our awe and creativity.

How are you tracking against those?

I know not of a single person IRL who can make a claim on all of these, including the lovely lady that gives me fresh lemons – and she is retired with her own property and citrus-yielding trees (which helps us understand how tiredness reaches far beyond physical, temporal and financial demands).

The structure of modern life appears to be in direct opposition to rest of all types. One just need think of the fresh hell that is the supermarket. Why are the lights so bright and the music so loud? Supermarkets and shops are examples of how our environment is constantly geared towards stimulation rather than rest. These bright lights and loud sounds are designed to keep us alert, moving, and, most importantly, spending**.

(**…or crying. The New World in Wellington City, New Zealand, always seems to be playing utterly heart-wrenching songs about lost loves. I once tried to burrow myself into a gap near the expanding array of flours to have a little cry)

What’s this got to do with thought and thinking?

Why might I be talking about types of rest and appearing to blame society for our tiredness? What does this have to do with the role of thought, which creates our experience? Isn’t that my job? The thought thing?

Sure – understanding the role of thought in creating our experience allows for incredible changes. But for it to be truly transformational (where ‘transformational’ can have a nice, realistic, low bar of simply getting through these days of political, ecological and social unrest without crying in the baking aisle) we need to recognise the intimate interconnectedness of our thoughts with our bodies, environments, societies, other beings and…well, every darn thing.

Said another way: everything is connected. Therefore: tiredness is connected to everything. So what? We cannot ‘isolate’ one piece of a very large, all-encompassing, intimately connected cosmological pie.


The relevance here is to notice the structural obstacles which might be preventing true rest. This may help unburden you from one of the main blockers to a nicer experience of life which is blaming ourselves for the ‘way we are’.

I talk about the structural and historical relevance of thought in Episode 63: How That Anxious, Restless, Unsettled Feeling Is Originally Created (Clue: It’s Nothing to Do with You) and this one is specifically on tiredness and its relationship with our thoughts which may help you if you are struggling with this at the moment.

Ok, so while we are here, let’s add some other types of rest we need (compiled by me and 3 tired friends)

The other types of rest

Rest from things being smart. We don’t all want screens everywhere and our personal data flying around everywhere, including on our fridges, restaurant tables and now on mirrors in the bathroom. A smart mirror. Crikey.

Rest from being sold to. Adverts everywhere (especially on all the screens, see above)

Rest from the daily heartbreak of human cruelty (and it’s positioning in the media, fantastically incorrectly, as ‘human nature’)

Rest from lies, evasions, omission and half truths, especially from our leaders (and media – see above)

Rest from comparison: with each other, last quarter, our past selves, in our industries and groups.

Rest from justification. I don’t need to put a reason for why I included this.

Rest from nudging and covert influence, where our choices are engineered through psychological techniques, advertising and algorithms.

Rest from the insidious social expectations we never agreed to in the first place, like feeling the need to respond to messages within an arbitrary time frame that, if missed, makes us sweat a bit and feel weird and squirmy.

Rest from the fragmenting and fracturing of our attention, meaning too few of us can finish this post, never mind read a book anymore.

Rest from concrete, hard surfaces, artificial lights, alarms, cold metal, beeps and pings, and the weird silence when there are no birds around…also known as rest from the reminder we are not in nature, we are far from home, and that ‘all of this’ (gestures around with wide arms) is a bit artificial, contrived and synthetic.

Rest from being told to take a fucking bath or ‘do some mindfulness’ as the solution to all of life’s problems.

This is not an exhaustive (ha!) list by any means, and I’d love your suggestions. Email me here with the type of rest you would like and I’ll be including some of them in future pieces.