You're Tired AF. But What Kind Of Rest Do You Need?

"Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest."—Mark Buchanan


OK, so here's a totally random yet pretty interesting question. The last time that you found yourself talking to someone on the phone and hearing yourself say, "Whew, I'm just so tired" or "I could really use some rest", did you ever take a moment to think what you actually meant by that? While on the surface, this might seem like a very "duh" inquiry, the reality is, when it comes to fatigue, as a wise person once said, chile, there are levels to this.

For example, two definitions of the word "rest" are "to refresh oneself, as by sleeping, lying down, or relaxing" and "to relieve weariness by cessation of exertion or labor". Then there's the phrase "at rest" which means "free from worry; tranquil". As if that's not enough to ponder, there are also all of the types of rest (as heard in this viral TED talk by Saundra Dalton-Smith) that your mind, body, soul—or perhaps all three—are longing for.

That last part? That is what I want to encourage you to take a couple of moments to really think deep and hard about today. As I go through 10 different types of rest that we all tend to need at various points and times in our lives, reflect on which one resonates with you the most, right at this very moment. Because there is no way that you can get fully refreshed and replenished unless you know what area of your life needs the rest…the most.

1. Physical Rest


Let's tackle what is probably the most obvious kind of rest that we find ourselves in need of—physical rest. Physical rest is all about getting 6-8 hours of sleep and/or slowing down because your body is physically drained. What are some clear indications that this is the type of rest that you actually need? On the sleep deprivation tip, if you are moody; you can't focus or concentrate; your libido is low; you are suddenly gaining weight; your memory is foggy or it seems like you're sick more than usual (due to a weakened immunity)—these are all indications that you are probably not getting as many hours of sleep as you should. But what if you are catching regular zzz's and you still feel sore, achy or just totally drained? That could mean that you are pushing your body too hard when you're working out or that you're simply not giving yourself time to just…chill.

If you can relate to any of this, the best thing that you can do is 1) make sleep a top priority and/or 2) take a couple of days to do nothing but just relax. Perhaps rather than a strenuous exercise routine, opt for some yoga or taking a stroll through your neighborhood. Also, a nice soak in the tub to soothe your muscles and joints couldn't hurt either. Bottom line, never feel like so much is going on that you can't afford to give yourself the physical rest that your body needs and, quite frankly, deserves. On the physical tip, rest is always paramount.

2. Mental Rest


OK, so how do you know when the rest that you actually need is not really physical but mental? That's a good question. Some clear indicators that a mental health day is in order is if you're anxious or worried to the point where you're not able to concentrate. Another indication that you might be in the need for a mental break is if you find yourself losing your temper a lot quicker than usual (yes, that means that you are being a pop-off) or, while you can't exactly put your finger on it, you feel disconnected from your life. What I mean by that is, things that typically matter a lot to you, right now, you don't too much care because you simply do not have the mental energy to hone in and focus.

If any of this resonates with you on some level, you're not going to do yourself (or anyone else) much good if you keep trying to push past your mental fatigue. One of the best things that you can do is A) take a day off so that you can rest and recharge and/or B) make an appointment with a therapist, counselor or life coach so that they can help you get to the root of what may be stressing you. Our minds are constantly working, so there are definitely times when it needs to get off of the roller coaster ride. If you are going through anything that I just shared, that is your cue to get some much-needed mental rest in.

3. Emotional Rest


A dictionary definition of emotion is a state of consciousness. If you were to look up the dictionary definition for the word "heart", one of the things it would say is "center of emotions". That's one of the reasons why I'm not a fan of "following your heart" (follow your emotions?! Emotions change all of the time; besides, the Bible speaks against following your heart as well—Jeremiah 17:9-10), yet I am a fan of the Scripture, "Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life." (Proverbs 4:23—AMPC) For the record, guarding your heart does not mean building a symbolic barbed-wire fence around it. Guarding your heart just means that you acknowledge that your emotions are a part of who you are and it's important to watch how people, places, things and ideas influence it.

So, how do you know if it is past time for you to get some emotional rest? If you're sadder than usual. If you are restless when you try to sleep. If you feel numb (you're not really up or down). If you feel hopeless, confused or frustrated but you can't pinpoint the cause of why you feel this way. If you lack any sense of motivation. While all of this could point signs to low-key depression, before speaking with a physician or therapist, try reading articles that include signs that you're a people-pleaser, a love addict, you need to set better boundaries, or you're someone who is always preparing a man for another relationship and the pattern is devastating you. If any of this resonates with you, do some journaling in order to gain some clarity. Also, make sure to really listen to how you're feeling about the things that you are discovering about the root cause of your emotional discomfort.

While again, I'm not a "follow your heart" kind of person, I do believe that our feelings are emotional thermometers in the sense that they alert us to what we want, need or lack. As you discover more of what those things may be, express it to those you hold dear. Oftentimes, a person who needs emotional rest is simply someone who needs to be loved on a little bit more; they need a moment to receive some of what they so willingly give.

4. Spiritual Rest


I was born into a faith that observes the Seventh-Day Sabbath (I talk about it more in the article, "What To Do When You Don't Know How To Chill Out"). This means that from Friday at sunset thru Saturday at sunset, I'm chillin'. My friends know that unless it's an emergency, I preferred not to be called on the phone, I have no plans for when I'll get out of bed and, I do no work and, a lot of the focus is my own spiritual health and well-being. I think about things that I can do to better my spirit, how I can be more giving to humanity and I ponder the areas where I could stand to evolve in my relationship with the Most High. While I am no longer a part of the denomination that introduced me to the gift of sabbath-keeping, it is one thing that I am truly thankful for and will honor for the rest of my life. There really is nothing like taking out a day, every week, to focus on how to spiritually grow and mature.

For those of you who consider Sunday to be your day of rest, I have a question for you about that—how much rest do you actually get? Waking up early to go to church, only to come home and eat and get ready for another Monday…that doesn't sound much like resting to me. Listen, this isn't about getting into the theological and Scriptural reasons why the Sabbath is still relevant, even now. I just want to encourage you to ask yourself if spiritual rest is even on your radar; if you really do set aside regular time for prayer, meditation and getting closer to your Creator. The reason why I wrote articles for the site like, "Here's Exactly How To Start Protecting Your Spirit", "I've Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul" and "What's The Difference Between Being 'Religious' And Being 'Spiritual', Anyway?" is because, well, it's like a wise person once said, "You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." Since your soul is the essence of your being, if you don't make time to nurture it, you're gonna struggle with fully being at rest with the rest of who you are.

5. Social Rest


This kind of rest is something that introverts and ambiverts tend to get on a pretty consistent basis. But if you're someone who gets a lot of your energy from being around other people (which is a surface-level definition of what it means to be an extrovert), this particular point is especially for you. People are great and none of us were designed to be an island. But if you find yourself in a space where you feel like you can't even hear your own thoughts, "thanks" to the constant chatter, advice and perspectives of others, that is a telling sign that you need some social rest. Another clear indicator is, whether you are an extrovert, introvert or ambivert, you are always esteemed as being "the strong one" (you might wanna read "Check In On Your Strong Friend: 4 Signs Your Friend Is Going Through Depression") in your relationships.

If you can relate to these points, social rest is about putting your phone on silent, not hanging out with your peeps and really just enjoying some time by yourself. It could be for a day, a weekend or even a couple of weeks. Social rest isn't about ostracizing yourself. It's about taking a moment to love on yourself, rejuvenate yourself and enjoy your own company without an audience. Everyone deserves that. No matter how "typically outgoing" they might be.

6. Financial Rest


Not too long ago, I read a survey that said as much as 72 percent of Americans find themselves to be stressed out over money. What's really a trip about that is, it's a study that took place back in 2014. Can you imagine how folks are feeling in 2020 amidst this pandemic? Lord have mercy—literally.

So, how in the world can you get financial rest? There are a couple of angles that you can take. Something that I've been getting into the habit of doing more and more is paying bills ahead of their due date. Sometimes, even when it's something as simple as my car insurance or water bill, there is nothing like the sigh of relief that comes over me when the bill pops up in the mail (or my email) and I see a credit listed. Something else that can help you to become financially "free from worry" is to downsize a bit.

Do you need cable? Does your cell phone plan have more features than are actually necessary? How often are you gonna wear those new pair of shoes that you've been eyeing? Putting yourself into the position of having more money in your savings account than items all over your home can give you a sense of financial rest that you never knew you needed.

7. Creative Rest


While I get that not everyone falls into the classic definition of being a creative, at the same time, I wholeheartedly believe that since we are all made in the image of the Creator, we all are capable of creating on some level. Our approach to our career path might be innovative. How we love others might be super original. If you conceived and birthed a child, you are sho 'nuf creative. And, if you're someone who knows that you are in your purpose and fulfilling your true calling, that is another indication of how you are living out your best life creatively. That said, creating can take a lot out of a person. In fact, that's why I wrote the article, "How To Handle 'Purpose Fatigue'" once upon a time.

Listen, I'll be the first one to raise my hand in this class and say that, when you know that you are actively doing what you were sent here to do (this includes knowing that you are loving who you were made to love because love is at the core of creativity), it can be hard to "get off of the clock"—that doesn't mean it isn't necessary, though. Creative rest includes taking vacations (whether that's alone, with your significant other or even just spending a weekend away from your kids every once in a while). It means intentionally setting aside time to NOT work on that manuscript, record that album, design that outfit, cultivate that company or whatever other idea that has you so excited (and perhaps even consumed).

Remember what I said about the Seventh-Day Sabbath earlier? Another reason why I am a Sabbath observer is because, according to the Bible, God rested on the Sabbath Day (Genesis 2:1-3). Since the Master Creator takes moments when He looks at all He's done, calls it good and then rests, as one of His very creations, who am I not to take His lead and do the same? Your creations will wait on their creator to tell them what to do (or do next). Step away from them from time to time so that you can give your all and best to them.

8. Electronic Rest


What in the world is "electronic rest"? Anything that requires a plug (or battery) in order for you to use it, sometimes you need to go without those items, whether it's your smartphone, your laptop, your television or anything else that's electronic. The reality is there really is such a thing as sensory overload because electronic devices provide us with constant information, sometimes to the point where we end up feeling totally overwhelmed. For instance, have you ever wondered if you're a social media addict? Some indications that you very well may be is if you are unable to complete other tasks because you're constantly checking your social media accounts; you can't imagine going one day without turning your notifications off; you are consumed with how many likes or comments you get on your posts; you freak out when your favorite platform goes down; you are overly preoccupied with criticism or praise and/or you refuse to turn off your phone before retiring at night.

When I wrote the article, "8 Solid Reasons To Put. Your Phone. Down.", some points that I mentioned include the fact that always looking at devices can affect your vision, your level of calm and even the quality of your relationships (I know a spouse who, because of their cell phone addiction, they are having less sex with their partner because they are on their phone all hours of the night). If you just read any of this and felt like I was talking to you directly, do your entire self a favor and take a social media break. While you're at it, how about reading a book instead of watching anything on the tube? And as much as you may dig music (same here), try going without that (including in your car) for 24-48 hours as well. Sometimes the best thing that we can do for ourselves is embrace silence and what it brings to us. In order to do that, all of the plugged-in-background-noise has to go.

9. Sensual Rest


If you're an unmarried person reading this, I already know that most people aren't gonna be abstinent for as long as I've been (which is going on 14 years now). But if you happen to be someone who reads articles on our site like, "Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner" and you're totally shaking your head because, words cannot express, just how much you can relate, or you checked out "These Are The Deal-Breakers You Shouldn't Hesitate To Have In The Bedroom" before and you get it in theory but you never really hit the mark of establishing the kind of sexual boundaries that you need, a season of abstinence might be exactly what the doctor ordered.

It wasn't until I scaled back from my sexual partners (check out "14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners") that I was able to see the patterns that I had set and why I was oftentimes totally depleted in my relationships or situationships. It was my long season of abstinence that has helped me to gain a greater sense of self-confidence and clarity about what I want, need and deserve beyond a great sex partner. I doubt I would've gotten to that place without, well…going without.

While we're here, I must say that sex in marriage is of the utmost importance (check out "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important", "10 Things Couples Who (Consistently) Have Great Sex Do" and "10 Married Couples Share The Keys To Their Totally Off-The-Chain Sex Life"). I will add that if you are currently in a sexless marriage, unless you're physically unable to connect in this way, it's usually a flag that something is very awry in your relationship. Still, there are seasons of sex that most couples go through. If you find that you and your partner don't seem to connect well other than in the bedroom (also check out "Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good"), it could mean that one or both of you are relying on sex to mask other issues. This means you're abusing sex on some level and taking some time to do things like sex journal, date and emotionally connect can help you to repair the areas where you're weary and currently struggling. That way, once you do come back together on a sexual/sensual level, the sex can be even better than it was before!

10. “Being” Rest


And finally, what the heck is "being rest"? Someone once said that we are not humans "doing", we are humans being. If there is one thing that 2020 has done, it has revealed what humanity is truly capable of, both good and bad. Taking all of that in can be overwhelming. So, when I say that sometimes, it's cool to get some "human being rest"—remove yourself from the guilt of not being able to solve everyone's problems, fund all of humanity's crises or do more than what you are literally capable of. It's OK—encouraged even—to tell yourself sometimes, "I did the best that I can with what I've got. What I can't control, I won't even try to do" and then having a glass of wine while watching the sunset. Honestly, if you work to perfect this kind of rest, all of the others will automatically follow suit because being rest is about knowing your limits and not pushing past them. Rest well, sis.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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