Beyond Sleep: Embracing the Seven Types of Rest in Health Coaching

Have you ever heard your client complain about feeling tired, even after a good night’s sleep? Or after spending a whole weekend catching up on sleep?

In our fast-paced lives, it’s common for both us and our clients to experience fatigue, even after seemingly sufficient sleep. This brings us to an essential distinction that’s often overlooked: the difference between sleep and rest.

Contrary to popular belief, achieving rest encompasses much more than obtaining adequate sleep. Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s insights in Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity highlight the critical need for various types of rest for optimal functioning and preventing burnout. She identifies seven distinct rest needs.

Here, we explore these rest types and discuss their integration into health coaching practices.

  1. Physical Rest is prioritizing quality sleep and incorporating restorative activities for your body.
  • Getting 7+ hours of sleep
  • Taking power naps as needed
  • Engaging in light stretching or yoga
  • Investing in a good mattress and pillows
  • Booking a massage session

Physical rest encompasses more than sleep; it includes restorative activities that relieve physical stress and rejuvenation. Coaches can encourage clients to adopt light stretching, yoga and more. Emphasizing the importance of physical rest can lead to significant improvements in clients’ energy levels and physical health

  1. Mental Rest is unplugging and giving your brain a breather, especially in a world saturated with so much information and stimuli.
  • Setting aside time to unplug from electronic devices
  • Practicing mindfulness meditation
  • Taking short breaks throughout the day
  • Creating a work shutdown ritual
  • Writing down your to-dos before bed

Our brains are constantly processing information, leading to mental fatigue. Coaches should guide clients in establishing mental rest practices, such as digital detoxes and regular breaks during work. These strategies can help clear mental clutter, leading to improved focus and reduced stress.

  1. Sensory Rest is escaping the noise and technology that may cause your mind to be overstimulated.
  • Taking a break from social media
  • Turning off notifications (sounds and visual alerts)
  • Limiting screen time and exposure to artificial light
  • Using noise-cancelling headphones in noisy environments
  • Spending time in nature without distractions

In our overstimulated world, sensory rest is vital. Coaches can recommend strategies for reducing noise and screen exposure, such as going on an “information diet.” These practices can help mitigate the overwhelming effects of constant sensory input.

  1. Spiritual Rest is connecting with your inner self and being a part of something bigger than yourself.
  • Engaging in prayer, meditation
  • Working at a job that feels purpose-driven
  • Practicing gratitude through journaling
  • Finding a passion or hobby outside of work
  • Volunteering in your local community

Spiritual rest involves connecting with one’s inner self and finding a sense of purpose. This can be achieved through being in the moment and engaging in meaningful work. Coaches can support clients in exploring what spiritually nourishes them, fostering a deeper sense of fulfillment.

  1. Social Rest is finding a balance between socializing and solitude.
  • Spending more time with people who uplift and support you
  • Spending time with people who drain your energy
  • Setting boundaries and communicating your needs
  • Scheduling regular alone time to recharge
  • Saying no to social events if you’re feeling overwhelmed

Balancing social interactions is key to avoiding social fatigue. Coaches play a crucial role in teaching clients how to identify energizing versus draining social interactions and setting appropriate boundaries. This balance is essential for maintaining emotional and social wellbeing.

  1. Emotional Rest is giving yourself permission to feel and express your emotions without judgment.
  • Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or therapist
  • Practicing self-compassion and giving yourself grace
  • Engaging in activities that bring you joy
  • Setting boundaries with people who may be emotionally draining
  • Releasing the need to be a people pleaser

Providing a safe space for clients to express their feelings is a cornerstone of health coaching. Encouraging practices like journaling, engaging in self-compassion exercises, and setting boundaries can offer clients the emotional rest they need to process and grow.

  1. Creative Rest is recharging your creative energy, finding inspiration and appreciating beauty in any form.
  • Trying new experiences, such as visiting a museum
  • Engaging in activities that stimulate your creativity
  • Surrounding yourself with people who encourage your creative pursuits
  • Setting aside time for daydreaming or brainstorming new ideas
  • Reading a book, listening to music, painting, going to a concert, etc.

Creative rest is rejuvenating one’s creative energy through exposure to beauty and engaging in creative activities. Coaches can inspire clients to try new things, immerse themselves in nature, or engage in artistic endeavors, enriching their lives and sparking innovation.

As health coaches, our role in promoting a comprehensive approach to rest is invaluable. By expanding our understanding and application of the seven types of rest, we can enhance our clients’ journeys towards holistic wellness. Let’s lead by example and make rest an integral part of our coaching philosophy and practice.

Ariel Belgrave, an award-winning health and fitness expert and business advisor, founded Gym Hooky after over a decade in corporate HR for Fortune 100 companies like JPMorgan and Facebook. Her L.E.A.N Method has empowered thousands of women globally to embrace healthy, sustainable habits. She’s renowned for creating wellness programs that blend HR insights with health expertise, significantly enhancing employee engagement and inclusivity. Ariel’s impact is highlighted across major media, including Good Morning America, NBC, and Women’s Health Magazine. She also contributes to Women’s Health Magazine’s board and is an Under Armour sponsored athlete.

Find out more about engaging Ariel for speaking opportunities.

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