Rest is Essential


What comes to mind when you hear this word? For many of us, rest seems like a luxury, something to be earned, something we get to experience only after all our responsibilities have been accomplished. Does this sound familiar? What would happen if we changed the way we view rest? 

Neuropsychologist, Dr. Jen Wolkin, recently said this: “Rest is not a reward, it’s a neurobiological imperative. Our brain needs downtime. We don’t have to earn it.”

What if we started viewing rest like this? Not something we have to earn, not something that we do after we have been productive, instead something we need, a priority, a neurobiological imperative. What would this kind of rest look like in your life?

I recently saw an Instagram post by Hoodbaba that described nine types of rest we can engage in. Which one do you need today?

  1. Time away
  2. Permission to not be helpful
  3. Something “unproductive”
  4. Connection to art and nature
  5. Solitude to recharge
  6. A break from responsibility
  7. Stillness to decompress
  8. Safe space
  9. Alone time at home

What part of you needs rest? Identifying what part of you needs rest can help us receive the full effects of this change. Sometimes we misidentify what we need, for example, taking a nap (physical rest) when what we really need is creative rest (engaging with our artistic side etc). What type of rest are you neglecting for yourself?

  1. Physical rest (Sleep, naps, physical breaks)
  2. Mental rest (brain breaks, saying no to intrusive thoughts)
  3. Sensory rest (visual, tactical, auditory)
  4. Creative rest (go places, do things to let yourself feel creative)
  5. Emotional rest (authentically yourself, no people pleasing)
  6. Social Rest (people you surround yourself with, taking social breaks, saying no)
  7. Spiritual Rest (prayer, meditation, community)

Now that we’ve established that rest is essential, what is getting in the way of practicing rest? Limiting beliefs? Childhood expectations and family culture around rest? Busyness? Burnout? Did you never learn how to rest? No one modeled rest for you? Anxiety symptoms?

Let’s allow ourselves  to identify and explore these barriers with curiosity. I’ll leave you with a few quotes to encourage you on your journey of rest:

“I don’t have to explain why I need a break. Not even to myself. I do not have to earn rest. -Yasmine Cheyenne

“Stop worrying about productivity. You don’t even know what it is. You’ve been taught the idea of it by capitalism. Rest because it’s your human right to do so.” -The Nap Ministry

“It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.” -Brene Brown

“Rest is not idle, is not wasteful. Sometimes rest is the most productive thing you can do for body and soul.” -Erica Layne


Happy resting!


Blog by: Sara Pogue, MSW, LICSW
Photo by: Rachel Claire from Pexels