By Jamie Jackson Spannhake, Esq.
Feeling exhausted? There are many kinds of respite we need in order to feel well-rested. Of course, we all know that sleep is important for both our physical and mental stamina. In fact, lack of sleep has serious consequences, such as reducing the effectiveness of our immune system and increasing our cravings for simple carbohydrates. But did you know there are at least four other kinds of rest we need in order to be healthy and at our best.
Here’s five ways to get the five kinds of rest you need to feel energized, mentally and physically.
- Physical Rest. As a fundamental requirement to good health, we must rest our bodies by sleeping. The average adult needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. We can also rest our bodies through restorative actions such as yoga and meditation. Try to get sufficient sleep, and on those days when you don’t, rely on meditation to get some of the physical rest you missed during the night.
- Mental Rest. When we are continually faced with stress from our daily activities, especially our stressful practice of law, we become mentally exhausted. This kind of exhaustion is what we often refer to as “burnout.” Mental exhaustion can manifest as not being able to fall asleep because our mind is running through our to-do lists, or all the things that went wrong during the day, or all the responsibilities we will face tomorrow. Such mental exhaustion can make us feel tired even when we have sufficient physical rest. One way to get needed mental rest is to take a break; whether a week, a day, or an hour, try to find time for downtime. Another effective tool to handle mental exhaustion is a daily meditation practice, which gives our brain the respite it needs from constant demands.
- Social Rest. We can feel socially exhausted when we spend a lot of time with people that drain us of energy, or when we don’t have deep and meaningful connections with other people. Think of that colleague who is always pessimistic and difficult, or that “frenemy” who takes great pleasure in making your feel bad about yourself. Or perhaps you are feeling isolated while you work from home and spend very little time with friends. In order to get the social rest you need, spend less time with people who drain you and more time with people who make you feel good and happy. Schedule a time for a walk outside with a friend, or to connect with your spouse at home, or for a weekly zoom meetup with friends.
- Creative Rest. Many lawyers don’t think of themselves as creative, but I disagree. We spend a lot of time helping our clients avoid risks and finding solutions to problems, both of which require creative thinking and foresight. When we spend a lot of time analyzing and creating solutions, we may need a creative rest. The best way to get the needed rest is to enjoy nature, art, music, and other things and activities that you find aesthetically pleasing. Go for a hike. Play the piano. Take a virtual tour of an art museum. Listen to your favorite music. Read a book. Anything that allows your creative energy to rest and rejuvenate at the same time.
- Sensory Rest. Our world is over-stimulating. We are surrounded by screens for work and for personal use: phones, tablets, laptops, computers, video game consoles, and more. There are lights, noises, notifications, and conversations during most of our waking hours. All this stimulation creates a need for sensory rest. Unplug at least two hours before bed. Keep you phone outside your bedroom during sleep. Choose one night a week to engage in activities that don’t involve a screen, such as games or a book. Try to spend some time each day in nature or in silence.
In order to be our best selves in our demanding practices that require mental stamina and focus, ensure you get the necessary rest in all five areas.
I want to hear how you stay energized, and where you could use support! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a 30-minute virtual coffee chat if you’d like a cheerleader, accountability partner, and guide to help you on the way.
A version of this article first appeared at Attorney at Work.
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