Ask a Therapist: On the Seven Types of Rest
Q: I feel so exhausted all the time and even when I sleep more it feels like my energy is not returning? How can I start to feel rested again?
A: Feeling exhausted is a common complaint that therapists hear from their clients. So many are fatigued and it seems like the strategies they are trying are not providing any relief or improvement of energy and they are discouraged. The good news is, there is hope! You can get your energy back through RESTorative self care, you just have to discern what type of rest you actually need.
Sometimes it is just an issue of trying to pair a strategy to help your tiredness (like going to bed earlier or adding a nap in the afternoon) that is not actually matching the root cause of the fatigue. It’s like you are trying to eat a hamburger to quench your thirst while what you really need is to hydrate yourself with a glass of water! The effort is there to try to make a difference to how you are feeling but the way you go about addressing it is not matching up.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, author of Sacred Rest, found that her patients in family medicine were often coming in feeling tired; but, as she started to observe the data she realized that not all patients' tiredness was the same and so she needed different treatments to address their specific needs. The answer was not a one-size-fits-all approach because getting more physical rest was not always helping. Of course, as a medical doctor, she was also testing iron levels, vitamin deficiencies, and other potential biological factors but, even when those were ruled out or addressed, clients were still left exhausted and she was determined to have answers for them.
She was able to discern through her research that there were seven categories of rest that every person needed and when one or more of those categories were depleted they would experience fatigue. She hypothesized that if people could understand the root cause in one or more of these types of rest they would be able to accurately treat the problem and move towards more energy and vitality in their lives. Doesn’t that sound intriguing? At CWC, we are working with clients to help them figure out a self-care plan that is aligned with their specific needs for rest on a regular basis and it is so encouraging to see the improvement that comes from tailoring their care in this way.
She put together a diagnostic quiz on her website https://www.drdaltonsmith.com/resources to help patients determine their level of fatigue in the seven areas of rest: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, creative, sensory, and social. As a first step in this series, it might be helpful for you to visit the website and take that quiz to see where you might need a bit more RESTorative self-care. In upcoming columns, each type of rest will be explored in more detail with strategies to try to address deficits in those areas so stay tuned for some practical support in this series to re-energize your life!
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