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Rest. Relax. What do these words mean to you? Is rest umbrella drinks on the beach, or is it more about the surfing lesson?

How can these two radically different days at the beach both be restful?

It depends on what kind of rest you’re trying to get. When you’re weary, you need rest that calms your soul. But if you’re burned out, you may need rest that stirs your appetite for adventure and wakes up your imagination.

There are many different reasons we need rest. When you can pinpoint your need for rest, you can better define what will give you rest.

3 kinds of rest

  • Rebound: rest to recover from exhaustion. Rebound rest seems to make you more tired at first, because you’re rest-starved.
  • Restore: rest to reflect and prepare. Restoration rest helps you regularly synthesize your life.
  • Rejuvenate: rest to launch. Rejuvenation rest catapults you back to your life with energy to leap forward.

Rebound rest

When your legs feel like cement and your get-up-and-go is gone, you’re headed for rebound.

You just need to vegetate and feel your breath go in. And out.

If rest is a regular part of your energy cycle, your gas tank fills quickly. But if you run on adrenaline and caffeine, your tank becomes a sponge, and, before you sense filling up with rest, your tank first needs to absorb the energy like a sponge soaking in water.

Falling below empty means you can expect that rest will, at first, make you more tired. This is your body signaling you to hold still. Stop striving.

Times when you’re likely to fall below empty and need the absorption of rebound:

  • Grief: Nothing begs your body to be still more than grief.
  • Overworked: Our society celebrates over-working, but at a certain point your body senses that you won’t volunteer to stop, so it shuts down.
  • After an over-reach: While vacations rejuvenate, and promotions excite, these activities also take a lot of extra energy, so you also need recovery time where you can feel back up.

Overly exhausted all the time?

We all get exhausted and need rebound rest some of the time. But if you regularly fall below empty and need rebound rest here are the challenges you can expect in your life:

  • Weight gain: Science shows that our need to eat increases when we’re exhausted. And the food we crave the most is fats or sugars. If you are regularly below empty you will eat in order to rest instead of eating to nourish.
  • Alienation: Tempers rise and patience thins when you’re exhausted. You snap at people you love. Occasionally, this is easily forgiven, but when it’s a pattern, you drive away the people you love most.
  • Early death: When you’re exhausted and you keep pushing forward, your body runs on adrenaline and caffeine. The stress of perpetual exhaustion can shorten your life.

Try this:

Notice the times you’re most likely to suffer exhaustion.

Identify several ways to guarantee yourself deep rest so you can rebound from empty.

Track the number of times you need rebound rest. If the number feels alarmingly high, seek help to restructure your life before your health suffers.

Ideas that soothe when you need rebound rest

  • Sleep/nap/doze: a normal night of sleep isn’t enough when you’re below empty. Let yourself lay still and fall in and out of awareness.
  • Television/podcasts: listen to someone else tell you a story, so you can just receive
  • Sun/bath/blanket: indulge in sensory pleasures that smell good, or feel soft on your skin

Think of yourself like you’re a toddler who needs help and attention in order to rest well.


Rest that Restores

Just like you’d never expect your car to run forever without a source of energy to fill up, you can’t expect that of yourself. Restoring rest is the overlooked, unsexy category of rest. But it’s the gas station for your life.

Think of restoration like you’re headed to The-Store-For-Your-Life. That’s where you get to resupply with everything you most need.

You’ll know you’re restored when you can easily:

  • Care for your body, eating healthy food and getting exercise
  • Face your upcoming calendar with anticipation rather than dread
  • Enjoy down time without feeling agitation or fear

Restoration helps you reflect and/or prepare. Restoration synthesizes the past and supports the future.

Restoring regularly?

If you regularly find time to let the dust settle from last week and to spiff up for the week to come, you can expect the following from your life:

  • Ease: You’ll feel more prepared to meet challenges.
  • Traction: Without the need to run on adrenaline or caffeine, you’ll find you have stamina to finish projects and polish up the details.
  • Momentum: You’ll notice your successes—even the tiny ones—and build on them week by week.

Be warned

Everyone finds restoration differently.

When I was a mom of two little kids, I’d get tired from juggling the details of other people’s lives. Putting things into their places restored me, so I’d clean a closet or drawer to restore.

But my seven-year-old son was tired, he needed to toss a ball against the wall and catch it when it bounced back. He restored with physical activity.

Keep your relationships supple and let each person choose their own form of restoration energy.


Rejuvenate to feel rest that catapults

Rejuvenation takes energy to begin, but it pays back in big dividends. Take an adventure. Create a system to handle a struggle. Try something new: take an art class or overhaul your wardrobe.

The thing to know about rejuvenation is that it requires a certain amount of energy to launch.

My husband would never consider closet cleaning restorative. Instead, it’s rejuvenating. So he needs abundant energy in order to begin. But once he tackles it, he gets a jolt of energy and suddenly has several ideas for new furniture he wants to build.

Rejuvenation is an energy exchange: you need energy to chase after it, but it returns energy tenfold.

Rejuvenate regularly and you will glow

If you regularly feed yourself rejuvenation your life will light you up. You can expect the following:

  • Excitement:  You’ll be engaged instead of bored.
  • Imagination: Because you feed your imagination it grows exponentially.
  • Follow through:  Joy creates energy. When you feed your joy, tasks that seemed monumental get done in a snap.

Be warned

What rejuvenates one person will overwhelm another. My husband comes back to life by rowing a raft through giant river rapids. That would paralyze me with fear.

If I held my husband back with my fear, however, he’d never get his surge of rejuvenation and resentment could build.

Keep your relationships vital: Find a way for each of you to rejuvenate without overwhelming the other.

This might mean separate paths for a time so you can return to each other refreshed.

Try this:

Next to the following list of activities write RESTORE or REJUVENATE so you can be clear what activities help you regularly synthesize your life and those that, while requiring energy to begin, will launch you forward.

  • Laundry
  • Go fishing
  • Paint or draw
  • Take a yoga class
  • Build a fence
  • Put a new app on your phone
  • Mow the lawn
  • Plan a vacation
  • Shop for a new sweater

Now add your own so you have a more comprehensive list: Restore & Rejuvenate

Summing up

Rebound rest is like a sponge. Once you stop moving and start to rest, you’ll feel more tired at first because your system is lost in a desert. Go slow. Give yourself time. Let your sponge fill and you’ll begin to notice your reserve increases.

Restorative rest is the unsexy store of energy where you resupply. If you visit this store regularly, you’ll find this store well stocked with choices to bring you energy, helping you synthesize the past and prepare for the future.

Rejuvenation rest launches you into a new season of growth or power. The thing to remember, however, is that it takes energy to give yourself rejuvenation rest. You can’t expect to rejuvenate if your energy is already on empty.

The only wrong way to rest is to force yourself to rest according to someone else’s rule. Rest is personal, seasonal, and stage-of-life-specific. Give yourself lots of choices and pick the kind of rest—rebound, restorative, or rejuvenating—that feeds your need.

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