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More Than Sleep: Understanding Rest

Rest is essential for our brains and bodies to function properly. It allows us to unwind, improves our mood, boosts performance, and lets our brain take a break. However, it takes a lot of work to do. With ADHD, your brain craves novelty and stimulation, making it hard to slow down and rest. It is essential to prioritize it to prevent becoming burned out and overwhelmed. 

We’ve all been there – the pressure to care for ourselves can feel like a giant wave crashing over us. And even though we might be clocking in enough sleep, we still feel like we’re stuck in a state of exhaustion. To make matters worse, our brains are on overdrive, listing off everything we should be doing instead of taking that rest. Those automatic negative thoughts can be deafening, and before we know it, we have shut down. So what do we do next? 

Hit the pause button and check in with yourself! Tune in to your body’s signals and take that rest when needed. It’s okay to give yourself permission to rest. Your brain and body will thank you for it. Get curious and be creative with what works for you. Experiment with different ways to unwind and recharge. 

Understanding Rest

I recently stumbled upon an article, “The 7 Kinds of Rest You Actually Need,” by Saundra Dalton-Smith, M.D., in which she discussed the concept of the seven types of rest our body and the mind need to combat chronic rest deficits. I found this helpful, and it gave me some food for thought.   

Here are seven types of rest that you can explore to help you stay refreshed.

Physical Rest: It’s essential to take a break from physical activities that tire us out, including sleep, relaxation, and napping. Active physical rest, such as yoga, stretching, or massage, can also help. 

Mental Rest: Short breaks throughout the workday or journaling before bedtime can help with mental rest. “Thought diffusion,” which involves observing thoughts as they flow in and out like leaves floating down a stream, can be beneficial. 

Sensory Rest: We’re constantly exposed to stimuli, so it’s essential to have intentional moments of sensory deprivation. This can include avoiding screen time before bed or practicing “Five senses grounding,” which allows you to focus on one sense at a time. 

Emotional Rest: Emotional rest involves being authentic and allowing yourself to release emotions instead of suppressing them. It’s also about surrounding yourself with people who provide emotional peace. 

Social Rest: Understanding your limits as an introvert or extrovert is crucial. You need to realize when to recharge and have conversations with those closest to you about how to support your needs. 

Creative Rest: For those in creative fields, creative rest is vital. Surrounding yourself with inspiration without the pressure to “do” anything with it can be helpful. Stepping away from a problem or project can also help your brain recharge. 

Spiritual Rest: Connecting with something greater than ourselves can provide spiritual rest. This can include prayer, meditation, or purpose. Finding community through groups or organizations that create acceptance and intention can also be beneficial. 

Cellular/Systemic Rest: This type of rest involves the entire body system from an internal level. It’s crucial to be mindful of what we put into our bodies, incorporating healthy, easy-to-digest foods that provide vital stress protection. 

To prevent getting to that stage of utter exhaustion, take care of yourself by prioritizing rest. Refueling and recharging your body and mind can help keep burnout at bay. Again, your body and brain will thank you.

Kelly Thorell

Kelly Thorell, PCAC

ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach