Rest Happier

Suzanne DaileyBlog, Self Care Better, Teach Happier


  • Many teachers have a rest deficit at this time of the year.
  • There are seven types of rest to ensure we are included in our routine.
  • What type of rest do you crave most? What will you change in your routine?

We are in a rest deficit.

Ever wake up after a good night’s sleep and still feel exhausted? Me too. But what if that level of exhaustion wasn’t because of the quality of your sleep? What if it was due to a rest deficit? Many educators would say that those 2 words, rest deficit, perfectly summarize how they feeling that at this point in the school year.

As we approach our much-needed and well-deserved winter break, let’s lean into the idea of rest. Like real rest. According to Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, author of Sacred Rest, there are actually seven types of rest. Once we better understand them, we can identify what our minds, bodies, and spirits need to feel rested and restored.

Rest is not a luxury. It’s something we all need in another year that brings unexpected expectations on all of us. Click To Tweet

Types of Rest

Dr. Dalton-Smith shares the idea that rest should be synonymous with restorative activities. She says, “Sleep and rest are not the same thing. We go through life thinking we’ve rested because we’ve gotten enough sleep. But in reality, we are missing out on the other types of rest we desperately need.”

Here are a few things to consider as we learn about each type of rest:

  • As each of the 7 types are shared, consider the 2 that you need the most and one you would like to consider creating space for. This will help prioritize time and space to those activities that help us feel restored and genuinely rested.
  • On our Teach Happier Facebook page, I asked our 700 members what they did to feel rested and rejuvenated. The percentages near each type of rest note the percent of surveyed colleagues who need this type of rest the most.
  • There is a physical move at the end of each explanation. These are the moves I use when I teach students as young as 4th grade about the 7 types of rest.

Physical Rest (24%)

This is the one most of us think about when describing rest. There is passive rest like napping or lounging and there is active rest like stretching, walking, exercise or yoga. We know we need physical rest when our bodies ache or our immune system is weakened. (Physical move: lay head on hands like you are sleeping)

Mental Rest (16%)

When you notice yourself experiencing brain fog, that is your body communicating it needs mental rest. This means taking a break from the routine through music, meditation, silence, or quiet time alone. (Physical move: tapping sides of forehead)

Emotional Rest (2%)

Feeling underappreciated or misunderstood? You are in need of emotional rest! You would benefit from talking out your troubles with a close friend or professional therapist. This allows someone to help lift your thoughts and spirits during a heavy season. (Physical move: hand on heart)

Social Rest (10%)

There are natural times when we feel disconnected from others and when we do, it’s time to prioritize social time with our friends. (Physical move: open and close hands like talking mouths)

Creative Rest (43%)

If you are having trouble thinking of new ideas or problem solving, you could use some creative rest. Activities like reading, writing, time in nature, arts, and cooking are examples of creative rest. (Physical move: pretending to draw/paint)

Spiritual Rest (2%)

This is the feeling of being connected to a higher being or purpose. This could be accomplished in a variety of ways—time in prayer, reading or listening to devotionals, or giving back to the world through volunteering or community service. Your mind and body will tell you spiritual rest is needed when you feel a lack of purpose or direction. (Physical move: hands reaching out/up)

Sensory Rest (2%)

Ever find yourself overly agitated and sensitive to sounds or noise? If so, turn off devices, dim the lights and turn down the sign (Physical move: “shhh”)

There they are— the 7 types of rest according to the research of Dr. Sandra Dalton-Smith. If you scan the percentages from the surveyed educators, isn’t it interesting that the majority of folks needed creative, physical, or mental rest? Consider what type(s) of rest you need to feel restored and rejuvenated. Let’s try to create some time and space to honor what our minds, bodies, and spirits need to feel content, aligned, and balanced.

Rest is not a luxury. It’s something we all need in another year that brings unexpected expectations on all of us. We have some expected time off soon and one of the best things we can do with our time is rest.

Like really rest.

Let’s rest happier so we can teach, parent, partner, and friend happier.

Happy Holidays!

Small Shifts. BIG Gifts!

What are the 2 types of rest you need to prioritize during this upcoming break? Once you create time and space for the rest, see if it increases your happiness at work or at home.

About Suzanne Dailey

Suzanne Dailey is a proud member of the Teach Better Family! She is an instructional coach in the Central Bucks School District where she has the honor and joy of working with elementary teachers and students in 15 buildings. Suzanne is Nationally Board Certified, a Fellow of the National Writing Project, and has a master’s degree in Reading. She is dedicated to nurturing and developing the whole child and teacher. Suzanne lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

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