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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nanyang Tech chapter.

After going through multiple health scares with my family last year, I began 2023 with a new focus: health and wellness. It was a natural step to take when I deeply internalised how easily our dreams are dashed before our fragile bodies. However, I found myself stumped when faced with the question of what my life would be from now. Previously to me, taking care of myself meant sleeping 8 hours a day, or practising my skincare routine. Well, those were things I already did religiously – so what was I missing? Why was I still so tired? How would I progress to reclaim my life and my body? To fill up this blank canvas I was presented with, I had to do some work. So if you’ve reached a standstill in your life just like me, what I’m about to share with you might be useful.

For a while, I was confused and frustrated by my energy dips throughout the day despite adequate sleep. Chalking it up to my busy work schedule, I remained under the impression that there was nothing I could do. That was until I stumbled upon a TedTalk conducted by a medicine physician, Saundra Dalton-Smith, and realised that I’ve been neglecting my rest. She explains that we have confused sleep with rest, leading to its overuse as a method of relaxation that is ultimately insufficient and ineffective. Instead of sleep, which counts as physical rest, there are six other types of rest we need to address our chronic lack of energy: mental, creative, spiritual, sensory, emotional, and social rest.

To elaborate, struggling to turn off your brain at night is a sign that you need mental rest. As an overthinker, this is a problem I experience, and so I rely on podcasts to drown my thoughts out. I also needed creative rest as well as my work often required me to brainstorm new ideas and solve problems. This might mean taking breaks to seek inspiration, which also ties into the spiritual that involves feeling like you are a part of something greater. Sensory rest includes taking breaks from bright screens and noisy environments while emotional and social rest are two sides of the same coin, experienced by being open and authentic with supportive people. Even physical rest can be separated into passive (sleeping) and active (stretching, yoga etc.)

Saundra put my life in perspective: I was suffering from a massive rest deficit, and my daily routine needed to expand beyond just eating, drinking, sleeping, or basically what I needed just to survive. That wasn’t my goal – I wanted to thrive. Taking care of myself proved to be a bigger commitment than I could have imagined. I had to reinvent my definition of rest and recharge, and realign my priorities such that I could make space for all of my newfound needs. I decided to concentrate on replenishing my mental, creative, emotional, and social energy which were depleted the most.

For my mental energy, I took Saundra’s advice and scheduled breaks where I could process my day. I usually spend the time on the train back home from school journaling, so that I can avoid compromising both my mental and physical rest with troubled thoughts that last until early morning. Instead of attempting to control my thoughts and failing miserably, I worked with, and not against my brain and body.

Yet before I could restore my creative, emotional, and social energy, I had to overcome the guilt and anxiety I felt from ‘not doing anything’ and learn that it is actually productive for me to spend time aimlessly in nature or eat out with friends and family. One of the best memories I had created this year was when I went stargazing with my friends. Moreover, I’ve also stuck to regular vitamin intake and a healthier diet for my weaker gut which has felt rewarding in its own little way. These are just some steps I’ve taken to feel stronger mentally, emotionally, and physically while not forgetting how much life there is to live and appreciate.

Needless to say, it’s also important to pace yourself in achieving a work-life balance. Usually, it’s more 60-40 or 70-30, rather than 50-50. Most of us would have areas for improvement, so may you leave with the reminder to listen to your body, be responsible for your needs, and start working on resting.

Gredel Teo

Nanyang Tech '25

Y2 English and Communication Studies major Email: gredelteo@gmail.com IG: @gredelteo