I, A Forever-Tired Millennial And Bad Sleeper, Tried The Viral "7 Kinds Of Rest" Strategy — Here's How It Went

Hi, I’m Megan, and I suck at sleeping.

the author smiling

So I gotta say, when I first saw this viral Twitter thread about the seven types of rest we need to avoid burnout, my first thought was, SEVEN?!?!? That’s too much work.

Twitter: @systemsunday

The information in the thread is based on Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s book Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity.

And I’m definitely not the only one who felt that way.

Twitter: @PatrickS_Hearn

I was super curious about what all the different kinds of rest could even be, so I dug in to the thread. Some of them actually seemed pretty easy to incorporate in my daily life while others felt more abstract. But as someone who whines that I’m soooo tired at least once a day, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give each one a try.

Twitter: @SystemSunday

The seven types of rest are:
1. Physical Rest

2. Mental Rest

3. Social Rest

4. Spiritual Rest

5. Sensory Rest

6. Emotional Rest

7. Creative Rest

Though seven seemed like maybe too many kinds of rest at first, as I read more about each of them, I realized a few would be really easy for me to try out — while others were basically missing from my life all together.

The thread also links to a Rest Quiz that breaks down what kinds of rest you may need the most. After I got my results, I decided to try an experiment. I made a plan to spend a week trying one type of rest per day, going in order of what the quiz said I needed the most. I also did my best to choose rest options that could be more accessible for the average person than, say, a day at the spa (though that would’ve been nice).

Here’s what happened during my week of rest and relaxation:


Day One: Sensory Rest. I gave my overstimulated brain a break by changing up the evening ambiance in my house.

Twitter: @SystemSunday

The quiz said that I need sensory rest the most, and honestly, that checks out. I’ve always been pretty sensitive to things like bright lights and noise. And as I’ve gotten older, bright and flickering lights have turned into a horrible migraine trigger. I don’t think that any amount of sensory rest would make these sensitivities go away, but I can definitely see how it could feel good.

Out of the Twitter thread’s options for sensory rest, I decided to focus on setting a relaxing evening ambiance as a low-effort way to give my senses some relief.

To create a chilled-out atmosphere after dinner, I dimmed my lights and relief immediately flooded my eyeballs. You know when you’ve been clenching your jaw for hours and hours without realizing it and then you finally let it go? Just lowering the lights felt like that times ten for me. It’s such a small and easy change, but at the same time, it made a huge difference.


Day Two: Social Rest. I indulged in my introverted tendencies by giving myself some extra alone time.

Twitter: @SystemSunday

I was really, really surprised that the quiz rated social rest as one of my biggest needs. I work from home, so I tend to spend a lot of time by myself. But then I realized, there’s a big difference between working alone and resting alone.

So I decided to take my introverted-self on a little alone-time date.

After work, I usually go for a walk as a sort of fake-commute. To build in some extra me-time, I brought a book with me and took a break from walking to hang out in the park with me, myself, and I. It was sort of relaxing, but I had a hard time letting myself enjoy it.

the author sitting in a park


Day Three: Emotional Rest. I treated myself to a little emotional rest by having a drink with some friends.

Twitter: @SystemSunday

The thread makes emotional rest sound pretty heavy. Evaluating relationships? Talking to a therapist? It all sounded like hard work and not that accessible.

After some thought, I decided that I could easily fulfill this mission by goofing around with a friend and sharing some laughs. Getting rest doesn’t have to be serious business — silliness is replenishing too!

So I met up with a couple of friends to share a cheese board, drink wine, and cackle like witches on the patio of one of our favorite bars. It made me realize how “serious” I tend to be in my daily life, even though I feel like a goofy little gremlin at heart.


Day Four: Physical Rest. I did some bedtime stretches to wind down my day.

Twitter: @SystemSunday

Passive physical rest is a struggle for me thanks to my sleep problems, so I decided to focus on getting active physical rest in the form of some bedtime stretching. Plus, I hoped that winding down with some stretches just might help me sleep through the night.

With my mood lighting in full effect and a comfy show playing in the background, I dusted off my yoga mat and set out to do about ten minutes of gentle stretching. But once I got started, I kinda lost track of time and ended up flowing for forty minutes.

woman stretching with a cat in her lap


Day Five: Mental Rest. Not to brag, but I already do most of the stuff listed in the tweet below because otherwise I will forget literally everything.

Twitter: @SystemSunday

I live and die by my to-do lists, habit trackers, checklists, and random notes. I use daily lists in my notebook, set alarms, and send myself texts when I’m on the go to make sure I don’t forget things. And for things that I have to do on a regular basis, I do them the exact same way every time so I don’t miss a step. Without my routines and my notebooks, I would crumble.

Meditation is the only thing on the mental rest list that I don’t regularly do, so I decided to try a quick three minute meditation in the afternoon.


Day Six: Creative Rest. I spent more time with a book on my lunch break.

Twitter: @SystemSunday

Earlier in the week, I pulled a book off my to-be-read shelf to enjoy during my social rest and got totally sucked in to its world. So for my creative rest, I decided to keep on reading.

I always want to read more, but the tired and burned out part of me tends to look at this as “work,” so I often reach for my phone instead of a book. Reframing reading as rest made it so much more relaxing and enjoyable.

the book of form and emptiness by ruth ozeki


Day Seven: Spiritual Rest. Finally, I finished up my week by going through my budget and finding room to set up a recurring charitable donation.

Twitter: @SystemSunday

As a personal finance editor, one thing I’m very big on is trying my best to align my spending with what I believe in. So for this final step, I took some time to go through all of my recurring expenses and see if there were any areas where my money could be going to better use.

I ended up finding a couple of subscriptions that I’d forgotten about and haven’t been using. So I canceled them and set up a recurring monthly donation to my local food bank instead.

thank you Megan for supporting the san diego food bank

My biggest takeaway from this week is that even though my tired brain wants to not do things, I feel so much better when I fight through that feeling and do them anyway.

Thinking about these self-care things as “rest” instead of “activities” also made it so much easier to get into them and enjoy myself. Like, the difference between saying to myself, “I should really read more,” vs. “Now I get to relax with a book,” is huge. 

I don’t know if I’ll continue doing all of these things, but a few that were really impactful are definitely sticking around in my daily routine. Lowering the lights, stretching before bed, and reading at lunch were all pretty easy to add into my day, and, unlike scrolling on my phone for hours, they all made me feel a little less tired.

Now I’m curious — how do you get these types of rest, and would you give any of these things a try? Let me know in the comments. I’ll be reading…

What's your reaction?