7 Types of Rest: The Key to Becoming the Prepared Adult
Do you constantly feel tired, even after weekend-long “sleep marathons?” Sadly, for the vast majority of people, the answer is yes. According to Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, author of Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity, this is because we have confused the concept of sleep and rest.
While sleep is an important component of physical rest, it encompasses only one of the seven types of rest needed for an individual to feel fully alive and energized. Dr. Dalton-Smith presents the idea that humans need equal restoration in seven key areas of their lives:
1. Physical Rest
Physical rest includes both an active and passive component. The passive component includes high-quality sleep, while the active component involves activities such as yoga, stretching, and massage therapy. Physical rest deficits might include fatigue and body aches and pains.
2. Mental Rest
Someone suffering from a mental rest deficit might have trouble recalling why they entered a room or may lay down at night and find they are unable to quiet their racing mind as they lay down at night to sleep. Scheduling breaks throughout one’s day to remember to pause or slow down can be helpful in satisfying a mental rest deficit.
3. Spiritual Rest
Spiritual rest relates to the fundamental need for belonging. An individual experiencing a spiritual rest deficit may work only for a paycheck, feeling that their life lacks purpose. Finding ways to become involved in the community or finding a greater purpose through prayer and meditation can help those struggling with a lack of spiritual rest.
4. Emotional Rest
Emotional rest is a type of calm one feels when they are able to be real and authentic, sharing their inner experiences openly with others. People suffering from an emotional rest deficit may feel the weight of an emotional burden as they suppress their feelings and may also experience the constant need to please others.
5. Sensory Rest
In today’s technological modern world, whether one is aware of it or not, there is a constant influx of sensory stimulation. Phones are ringing; the TV is on in the background; there is a quiet hum from the computer; the bright overhead lights are shining. Someone experiencing a sensory rest deficit may feel energized and happy at the beginning of the day, but becomes increasingly more agitated and irritable as the day progresses.
6. Social Rest
Although its name is misleading, social rest does not actually mean pausing social interactions; it actually means the feelings one experiences when surrounding themselves with those who give them life. To prevent a social rest deficit, individuals should consider each relationship in their life to ensure it is positive, supportive, and meaningful.
7. Creative Rest
Creative rest is the rest an individual experiences when they are able to appreciate beauty in any form. It reawakens a sense of awe and wonder. Going out in nature and creating inviting spaces with visually appealing and calming pieces of art in one’s home and work spaces are two ways to encourage creative rest.
The Prepared Adult
Whether due to a lack of time, a lack of awareness, or a false belief that one lacks worth, many individuals neglect self-care, and thus, experience rest deficits in one or more of these seven key areas of life. This attention to personal needs, however, is vital as it allows an individual to do the inner work necessary to truly connect with, and understand, themselves, which is the key to gaining the capacity to effectively give to others.
Maria Montessori spoke at length about the importance of the Prepared Adult. She described the intense spiritual transformation necessary for one to become fully prepared to serve as a guide for children involving, first and foremost, a development of the understanding of themselves. In The Absorbent Mind (Montessori 1995, 131) she states, “The real preparation for education is the study of one’s self. The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character; it is a preparation of the spirit.” The time guides spend becoming attuned to themselves and meeting their own needs allows them to better understand their students and provides a model for children about the importance of this inner work.
The preparation of the adult is a lifelong journey that demands the same level of dedication and attention as that which is given to the children. Montessori educators should realize that investing in oneself is the first step on their path to a spiritual transformation that will empower them to be the types of guides Montessori envisioned. A crucial element of this personal investment begins with rest and rejuvenation. As Dr. Dalton-Smith reminds us, “rest is something sacred, valuable, and worthy of our respect.” Each and every Montessori guide shares this sacredness, value, and worth that should empower them to invest in themselves and, therefore, in the lives of children and the future of the world.
Dalton-Smith, Saundra. 2017. Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity. New York: Hachette Book Group.
Montessori, Maria. 1995. The Absorbent Mind. New York: Holt Paperbacks.
About the Author
Heather White, EdS, is a Montessori in-home teacher and nanny, a Montessori educational consultant for the Andrew’s Institute, a Montessori educator for adult learners, and a volunteer moderator for the Montessori at Home 0 – 3 Facebook page. Formerly, she was a Montessori teacher, Lower Elementary coordinator, and associate head of school. She also has experience as a School Psychologist intern. She is AMS credentialed (Early Childhood, Elementary I). Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.