September 24, 2020
Are you tired? Do you feel like you’re always running on fumes? If so, don’t you dare go anywhere because today’s guest is going to blow your mind and rejuvenate your soul!
We had the honor of chatting with Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a Board-Certified internal medicine physician, speaker, and author. She is an international wellness expert featured in numerous media outlets including Prevention, MSNBC, Women’s Day, FOX, Fast Company, Psychology Today, and as a guest on Dr. Oz show. She is the author of numerous books including her new book Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity, including ground-breaking insight on the seven types of rest needed to optimize your productivity, increase your overall happiness, overcome burnout, and live your best life.
Today’s conversation was MIND BLOWING. When you think of “rest” you probably think of sleep or maybe a vacation. But, Dr. Saundra explains that there are actually 7 different types of rest and why you might be having a deficit in 1 or 2 of them that you don’t even know about. She then dives straight into practical ways to fix these deficits.We nerded out with her HARD on all things rest, productivity, the need to perform, and how as a society we are terrified of truly resting. If you’re ready to learn how to rest in a way that is TRULY beneficial and will bring a work life harmony to your life, keep listening.
Saundra is an internal medicine physician and has been practicing for about 20 years. About 10 years ago she got to the point of burnout and that is when she began to focus her life on things related to burnout prevention, rest, and recovery. She wanted to learn how to get herself back on track after getting to that point. It has now evolved into a whole thing and Saundra now spends most of her time helping people understand work-life integration and replacing the thought of work-life balance with how to stay well-rested and energized even in the midst of a busy schedule.
When we think about rest, most of us assume it is one big thing that we do. We often say we are going to rest on the weekends, meaning veg out and watch Netflix or do nothing. This is where most people really need to change their mindset.
Rest isn’t about the cessation of activity and it’s not about going on a vacation. It’s about doing restorative activities that pour back into you and into those places that feel drained, fatigued, and depleted. It’s about pouring back in so that you feel energized and ready to do the activities that right now we often say we don’t have time for.
To be at your highest level of productivity, you have to do some restorative activities where you are not producing things. You aren’t checking off your goal list or to-do list, but rather you are producing a healthier version of yourself. This should be just as important.
For most of us, we are sensory overloaded and gadget controlled. If you have a deficit in sensory rest, in other words, you are very electronically connected, then sitting and watching Netflix is not going to feel restorative.
We tend to schedule in so many things that we think are good for our business, but we don’t realize that in order to maintain a level of innovation and creativity, you have to pour into that reservoir of your life. Most entrepreneurs have never heard of the creative type of rest.
The most productive, highly effective, and innovative people know how to rest well.
Sleep is one type of rest. It is a type of physical rest. In Saundra’s research, she has found that there are multiple types of rest. There are actually seven different types. When you just focus your attention on sleep and think that you are going to solve all of your fatigue issues by sleeping, you are omitting all of these other types of rest.
You can’t solve an emotional or social rest deficit by sleeping. You can only resolve it by doing restorative activities that are specific to either emotional or social rest.
We tend to think that if we are tired, we just need to go sleep and do our best to get the 7-9 hours of sleep.
The three that most people are familiar with are physical, mental, and spiritual. The four that are lesser-known are emotional, social, sensory, and creative.
There are two types of physical rest. There is passive such as sleeping and napping and there is active which are things like yoga, a leisure walk, or stretching. These active physical rest activities are things that restore your circulation and improve your lymphatic system.
Mental rest has to do with getting your mind to go to a quiet place where your thoughts aren’t jumping around.
Spiritual rest can depend on people’s individual spiritual beliefs. This type of rest deals with connectivity with a bigger picture, such as humanity or a spiritual figure. This is all about seeing yourself as part of something bigger.
Emotional rest specifically has to do with authenticity and the ability to stop people pleasing behavior. It is all about being real, raw, and open in how you share your experiences with others.
Social rest is the rest we get when we are around life-giving people. We can all understand that negative people can bring negative energy. The same is for the opposite. Positive people bring positive energy and it is helpful to spend time around those who do not need something from you and are not putting a demand upon you.
Sensory rest is rest related to downgrading our sensory input. For many of us, we have a lot of external sensory input and we spend most of our time in a sensory overload state. Sensory rest downgrades the input.
Creative rest is the rest we receive when we are allowing ourselves to appreciate beauty in any form.
Some people do have a higher capacity for certain types of deficits. We have all probably produced work out of exhaustion. Some people can produce whether they are energized or burned out. But internally, this can create a mess and a toxic lifestyle.
Saundra has experienced this in her life. She was at a point where no one from the outside knew she was burned out, but she knew how she felt. She no longer enjoyed the work she was doing and didn’t have time for her family and her marriage. She was so focused on success for so long that success got easy, but the things that made life sweet and enjoyable became hard. She got out of balance. Some people call it out of balance but Saundra calls it a life out of harmony. She doesn’t believe we can ever get work life balance, but we can have work life harmony where they work together and create something beautiful.
We all need to be able to do a quick self analysis to be able to determine what is off.
Sensory overload example: Imagine you are a mom and are at a birthday party and your child is great until two hours in. At that two hour mark, they may start screaming and crying but nothing has happened to them. Escalate this to 16 years later to a teenager who plays two hours of video games. At the end of those two hours, your once nice teenager is incredibly confrontational and rebutting everything. Take this same person and add twenty more years. They go to work every day and are at their computer all day long and then drive home with talk radio on. Once they get home, they may be gripping at everyone in their family. All of this is what sensory overload looks like. It creates a person who is mean and lacks patience.
A lot of us don’t understand why our ticker is so short. If you have been overloaded all day with your senses and inputs, one last thing is too much!
We see a lot of examples of this when we look at the lives of those that are famous. When someone is focusing all of their attention on work and they don’t allow for periods of rest, you stop having opportunities in your life to reflect back on the work that you are doing. It’s easy to get into the cycle where you produce, produce, produce, but you never take a moment to acknowledge what has been produced, to celebrate it, or to enjoy it. All of a sudden it feels like your life doesn’t have a purpose if all you are doing is producing, but you are never able to enjoy anything that you produced.
Think about it like a bee. A bee is busy making honey, but it never sits and tastes the honey. You don’t want to have a life where you are busy producing sweetness to everybody else, but you never actually get to enjoy any of it for yourself.
The work environment will sometimes dictate where you have a rest deficit. For example, if you are a teacher and you are constantly having to deal with different personalities and interact with students who are auditory learners and some that are visual learners then you may be expending most of your energy in the emotional, social, and creative rest area. Whereas, someone who is a fitness instructor and spends their days instructing people how to do certain exercises, you may have a problem with your physical rest deficit.
The type of work you do will oftentimes lend itself to specific types of rest deficit. Particularly if you are not intentional about doing restorative activities to undo what you have done throughout the day.
For a lot of people right now, we are working from home and that is not our normal. One of the things with physical rest has to do with body ergonomics, which is how your body is positioned when you are doing your work. A lot of people are not aware with what their body feels like after they have a session at their desk. After you have been sitting at your desk and typing, when you stand up hours later, check-in to see if anything feels tight or tense. There are so many things that can happen that will actually cause your body to be stressed beyond what is necessary because of poor body ergonomics.
Flow break cycles are when you spend some time flowing in deep work and then you have a period where you break. In the break, you allow yourself to do some of the other restful activities such as taking a moment to walk outside or stretching your legs. If you spend a lot of time staring at a screen, spend some time with your eyes closed to give your eyes rest. Not having the TV on in the background or music playing is a great way to implement some periods of silence.
If you have a hard conversation with a client and keep replaying it in your head, take a moment to jot the conversation down. The way the brain works is that if you start cycling the process, it’s hard to break the tangle. When you write it down, it gives your brain permission to let it go. This can be effective for those who struggle to quiet their brain at night time.
Some of these things we do intuitively. For a lot of people, just having a way of classifying it has been helpful to justify how they get their rest.
Start slow. If you have found that you never in real silence and constantly have music or the TV in the background, just start with small doses of silence. Cutting it all off will cause your body to stress out. You have to train yourself to get back to a place of rest. Start where you are at. This may just mean 5 minutes of silence in the darkness.
As a physician, when Saundra shows up to the ER or the ICU there is a certain expectation of what is going to happen. Her normal personality has a tendency to be a little goofier and more laid back than most people would expect for someone in her role. When she shows up in the ICU and someone is in a critical condition, her normal personality can not be what normally shows up. She has to show up with a professional persona. No one wants to hear a joke when their loved one is fighting for their life.
For many of us, we carry this over from our professional lives into our private lives. If you are the CEO of a company you may be the one who is the face of the company and need to be strong. But, there might be a ton going on behind the scenes in the company that no one knows about. When you are always in the performance mode and feel the need to present a certain way, if you never get to a point where you can be truly authentic it starts to create a mindset that maybe it isn’t okay to just be real. So many people are at this point, particularly with social media. We all live our lives under a filter. We fear that no one wants to see our lives unfiltered and worry about what they would think. This is a tough place to be in because you start to believe that you, at your core, have something wrong with you. This can lead us to very desperate situations.
Everybody doesn’t need to know all your stuff! There should be at least one or two people that you can be real with. The problem is that many of us don’t have that one person, and when you don’t have that one person it sets up an atmosphere where you feel like you aren’t okay and can’t share your full truth with anyone.
It’s now hard to get face to face with people, but the studies done on both emotional and social rest show that it is beneficial even if you can’t be face to face in person. It’s important to spend time with friends, even if you can’t dedicate an entire evening out. Find ways to reconnect with those adult friends where it doesn’t feel intrusive. You can find ways to get the emotional and social rest, without having to disrupt your entire life.
The Rest Quiz is a free rest assessment at www.restquiz.com and it gives you a number to let you know where you stand in all seven of the types of rest. This allows you to determine which of the seven you are most deficient in this way when you are feeling tired you can more easily determine what type of tired you are. You can figure out where you are having your greatest rest deficit so you can focus your attention on getting more restorative activities in that area.
Do you feel energized? Most of the time, people who believe that rest is a luxury are the people that feel the most burned out since they have the mindset that they will rest when the work is done. The problem is, the work will never be done. To do work in a way that you still enjoy it, it requires rest. Every person wants to elevate their life, but the only people who get there, and get there with a smile on their face, are those that understand the power of rest.
Publicity and marketing. Saundra has found that that is the key to expand your reach and get in front of your client. Saundra does a lot of B2B and B2C offerings and the majority of that has come through some type of media. There is no show too big or too small. Your mind has to be focused on delivering your best to every audience regardless of the size because people receive that and will want to work with you.
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WASSUP FRIENDS. We’re Evie + Lindsey, co-founders of this wild partayyy called The Heart University. Our goal is to empower entrepreneurs to kick freaking BUTT in their businesses, dive down into the heart of their why and how, and serve you with all possible tools you’ll need to up-level your business game and CRUSH those goals of yours.
Whether you’re coming to an in-person workshop, joining our online course, or soaking up all the strategies via this blog or our podcast, we’re STOKED you’re here + can’t wait to see you out there kicking butt.
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