Types of Fatigue and the Kind of Rest You May be Needing



The society in which we live urges us to be highly productive, to keep working schedules, to work towards goals that often lead to stress and chronic fatigue. We arrive at the weekend to sleep as much as possible trying to compensate for the stress, the workload, plus that other work that is keeping the house in order and that in the end, however, finds us even more tired.

Sleep and rest are not the same thing so if you have been trying to compensate for your tiredness, lack of energy and motivation by sleeping at the weekend, it probably hasn't been enough, and you still feel exhausted.

There are different types of fatigue, and it may have happened to you that after spending all day at a mentally demanding job, you don't want to go home and rest, but rather your body wants to walk around, get some fresh air, or ventilate.  Well, so it is with different activities that can be demanding for the body and just collapsing into bed may not be what feels best for the body.


Rest as a Synonym for Recovery

We have forgotten that rest is the number one therapy to restore and balance the body.  Every activity we do requires energy, and that energy is not necessarily muscular.  An illness in the family, for instance, can wear us down emotionally, as it requires us to support, accompany and devote time to the sick person.  It is not unusual, then, for people who care for a sick person to end up getting sick themselves. 

It is therefore important to identify what kind of energy we are using up and to be able to determine the type of rest that is best suited to compensate for this wear and tear.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, researcher, and author of the book "Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity", provides specific areas of wear and tear and corresponding types of rest to restore them.


The Types of Rest According to the Type of Fatigue

Physical Rest

It can be passive or active.  Passive physical rest refers to sleeping and napping specifically, while active rest refers to restorative activities such as yoga, stretching and therapies that improve circulation and flexibility.  Also, activities that break up your daily routine, i.e. if you work at a desk and work out at a gym on a weekly basis, on your active rest day doing activities in your garden or doing repairs that require moderate outdoor activity allows you to be active, but in a different context.

Mental Rest

Do you need a big cup of coffee to start your working day, or do you get irritated easily, or do you forget things and find it difficult to concentrate at work? Or when it's time to go to sleep, do you find it difficult to fall asleep, brooding and ruminating over the day's events? And even if you have slept for 7-8 hours, do you wake up more tired?  You probably suffer from a mental rest deficit.

According to Dr. Dalton the good news is that there is no need to quit your job or take a holiday.  Just taking scheduled breaks every 1 to 2 hours during your workday can help you change your pace, take a breather, and come back with enough energy to tackle another hour of work with full concentration.  Also, keep a notebook on your bedside table to write down any facts, thoughts, or things you want to remember to do the next day. This can give you the peace of mind to fall asleep and not let those thoughts interfere with your rest.


Sensory Rest


You may already be familiar with the terms "visual pollution" and "noise pollution". It's when we become saturated with noise, billboards, signs and messages that circulate everywhere in modern life.  But not only that, loud lights, computer screens, conference calls, noisy neighbours, street noise overwhelm our senses and we have become so accustomed to it that we hardly notice that it affects us or even consider it normal.

The senses transmit information from the environment, the brain interprets it and tells the body how to react. When there is competing sensory information, the brain cannot interpret it all at the same time. For some people, this is like being "stuck" because the brain cannot prioritise which sensory information to focus on.

Sensory rest ranges from closing your eyes for a few minutes in the middle of the day to consciously turning off electronic devices after a certain time at the end of the day.  There is nothing wrong with mindfulness and intentionally seeking moments to get away from the sensory overload imposed by modern life, even if it means asking neighbours to turn down music or turning off notifications and phone ringing; closing a door to reduce noise in another room, or even leaving a place with strong smells or perfumes.


Creative Breaks


According to Dr Dalton, this type of rest is especially useful for people who need to solve problems or produce new ideas.  Creative rest can reawaken the wonder and fascination within us.  The best tool to achieve this is to return to nature, to admire a landscape, a sunset, whether in a nearby park or in our garden.

Creative rest, in addition to contemplating nature, can be achieved by looking at a work of art, listening to inspiring music and appreciating other artistic expressions.  You can turn your workspace into a place of inspiration by displaying images of beautiful places and works of art that have special meaning for you.  It's hard to spend 40 hours a week looking at a white or cluttered environment and pretend to be passionate about anything, let alone come up with innovative ideas.


Emotional Break


This applies to people we consider " nice people ".  They are the ones on whom everyone depends, who are asked for favours by everyone, and because they do not tolerate confrontation, they will say "yes" even if they would like to say "no".  However, when these people are alone, they feel that they are not valued and that everyone is taking advantage of them.

These people are in need of emotional rest, i.e. to have a way and a time to let off steam, to express what they feel and to stop thinking that they have to please others.  Emotional respite requires courage and honesty to really express how we feel.  Dr Dalton points out that an emotionally rested person can answer the question "How are you? with a sincere "I'm not well" and go on to share something difficult that would otherwise go unsaid.

If you need emotional rest, it is very likely that you are also in deficit of social rest (they often co-exist).  This happens when we find it difficult to differentiate between relationships that enrich us and those that intoxicate us.  Research in psychology suggests that we have "mirror neurons" that allow us to receive emotional information from other people. So, if you surround yourself with negative or depressive people, you will soon start to feel like them.

Likewise, for many of us, the weekly grind of work, weekend housework and other urgencies, alienate us from our social environment, whether it be people who enrich us emotionally or certain friends and/or family. When we least expect it, we have isolated ourselves.

In this sense, to enjoy a social break, surround yourself with positive and supportive people.  Keep in touch with friends who simply want to enjoy your presence. Even if your social interactions are virtual, you can become more involved by switching to video calls and focusing on the person you are talking to.


Spiritual Rest

This form of rest manifests in the ability to connect beyond physical and mental space to a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance, and purpose.  To make this part of your life, Dr Dalton recommends "getting involved in something bigger than yourself and adding prayer, meditation or community involvement to your daily routine".

Tiredness and fatigue can also be associated with certain health problems, so it is advisable to consult your doctor if you feel that none of these alternatives can restore you.

 Other actions that allow you to take a break from your routine besides sleep include

  1. This has several benefits: in addition to keeping your brain active, depending on what you choose to read, it can be a moment of escape, reverie or simply take you out of your daily routine. Another form of reading that is currently gaining momentum is listening to audiobooks, especially if you do a manual or repetitive activity.
  2. Be alone. Being alone is always a good option, as it is a time for you to get things done; take the opportunity to have a facial, hair treatment, etc., without depending on anyone or anything.
  3. Do nothing. There is nothing wrong with this and you need to let life just happens.
  4. Take a bath. It is an ideal way to rest because it relaxes the muscles and if done before going to sleep, it promotes restful sleep.
  5. Watching television. Although it is a similar option to doing nothing, it allows you to change your mind for a while and rest your mind from the routine.
  6. This allows you to observe yourself, your thoughts, and emotions. It is not about changing anything, nor is it about following your thoughts, nor is it about trying to retain or eliminate them.

Sometimes sleep alone does not restore us to the point of feeling rested and recovered, so it is worth looking at the kind of rest we need, so that you can accurately address the situation that may be wearing you down and robbing you of sleep.

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