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How to slow down and find some meaningful rest

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Many people report their dreams changing with the stages of the pandemic, local dream experts say. (Getty Images)
Many people report their dreams changing with the stages of the pandemic, local dream experts say. (Getty Images)

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Take a moment to ask yourself … Are you well rested?

In a world where we prioritize productivity, and even celebrate busyness, many of us not only don’t know how to rest; we also don’t take time to learn it.

Can we learn to practice meaningful rest?

Today, On Point: How to slow down and find some rest.

Guests

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, physician and researcher. Author of Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity. (@DrDaltonSmith)

Quiz: What Type Of Rest Do You Need?

Take this quiz and find out what type of rest you need. 

Listen: On Point Listeners Share How They Find Meaningful Rest

Interview Highlights

Why do so many Americans just feel worn down?

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: "A big part of the problem is we don't really know what we mean when we say that we want rest. I know for myself, this whole process and the research all started from my own burnout. I spent most of the time exhausted. And getting 7-8 hours of sleep never seemed to help it. Nothing seemed to improve it. Not vacations, not taking a weekend off.

"And so I think part of the problem is we have to truly identify why are we fatigued, why are we tired? What type of rest is it that we're needing? Because if you're getting the wrong type, you can feel as if rest actually doesn't work for you. When the reality is you're just not getting the type you personally need to feel well-rested."

On a definition of burnout

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: "When we look at burnout, just in general, the World Health Organization kind of classifies it as these three specific things. One, being feeling tired all the time. The second being a lack of enjoyment in the work that you do. And then the third thing, the work that you produce is actually of lesser quality than what you're capable of. And so I think a lot of us, if we look at that kind of definition of burnout, most of us are functional burnout.

"We're showing up at work every day. We're producing. But what we're producing really isn't our best. We're producing from our place of emptiness. We're producing from our place of fatigue. And we are at a job. But we actually don't have passion anymore. We're doing work, but our work actually isn't bringing us the fulfillment that it could if we actually had more energy to enjoy it."

On company culture and meaningful rest 

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: "It is amazing to see how small changes can make a huge difference. One of the companies that I work with, it's an agricultural company that has a very large global workforce. One of the things that we saw that was really interesting is that simple concepts work across all cultures. So whether they're at their offices in Hong Kong or the U.S. or anywhere. Simple ways of restoring yourselves work in every situation."

Where does one even begin in trying to achieve more meaningful rest?

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: "The reason why we came out with Restquiz.com is that we wanted people to understand that these numbers fluctuate. It's an assessment, you can't fail it. It's just giving you some starting points on kind of what to look at.

"So you can't fail it. But it gives you a starting point. Because whatever is the highest one, that is the one we always recommend you start with first. You don't try to hit all seven at the same time. Can't eat the elephant. Start with one bite. And that one bite is whatever, that highest score. And so pick one of the highest and you focus on that one first. And by doing that, you'll automatically start feeling more energized because your place of greatest deficit starts getting restored."

Related Reading

TED: "The 7 types of rest that every person needs" — "Have you ever tried to fix an ongoing lack of energy by getting more sleep — only to do so and still feel exhausted? If that’s you, here’s the secret: Sleep and rest are not the same thing, although many of us incorrectly confuse the two."

This program aired on November 14, 2022.

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