The 5 Types Of Rest You Didn’t Know You Needed, According To A Functional Medicine Expert


When I first started my telehealth functional medicine clinic over 10 years ago, I found myself in need of rest. I was tired and experiencing burnout and knew I needed to make a change. Over the years of learning what that means for myself and my patients, I discovered that rest doesn’t look the same for everyone.

In fact, rest can come in many forms that are all necessary and equally rejuvenating. So take a look and see what type of rest you are most in need of right now.


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1.     Time to yourself

Carving out time to be alone can be surprisingly refreshing. Not only does this give you time to take a breath, it can help you process events and situations that are a point of stress by allowing time for reflection. Even if you struggle with FOMO, try embracing JOMO (the joy of missing out) and get to know yourself better - it may even help you establish healthy boundaries and give you a stronger sense of what you stand for.

2.     Time on pause

The saying is true: You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you don’t have healthy boundaries and limits on how much you take on, burnout will creep in and you’ll be unable to fulfill any of your responsibilities. It’s important to establish set breaks from responsibility whether that’s taking a whole week off, blocking off certain days of the week, or going an entire season without anything on your plate. The only way to beat burnout is with rest.

3.     Time in nature

While it’s easy to succumb to mindless scrolling or hours in front of the tv after work, getting outside is crucial for our mental health - even just a 10 minute walk. Studies have shown that getting outside - like in the Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing - can lower stress and support healthy inflammation levels. (1) However, screen time has been shown to produce the opposite effect. (2) 

4.     Time sleeping

There’s ultimately no substitute for actual sleep. A society so focused on productivity can leave you burning the candle at both ends with too many late nights combined with early mornings. If you aren’t getting the recommended 7+ hours of quality, uninterrupted (that’s the key) sleep, then it’s time to rehab your sleep habits with my natural tips.

5.     Time with people

When you spend time with others, it needs to be with those who you can be your most authentic self with. Unfortunately, not everyone can - or should - be privy to your innermost feelings, thoughts, and struggles as they don’t have your best interest at heart. In order to be refreshed by socialization, make sure your time is spent with people who don’t meet your thoughts with resistance, discouragement, or belittling. You’ll feel the most refreshed after spending time with those you build you up.

Remember, wellness goes beyond diet and incorporates every aspect of your life, including rest. By allowing yourself to rest in these different areas, you’ll be on your way to living the most thriving version of yourself every day.

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  1. Cho, Kyoung Sang et al. “Terpenes from Forests and Human Health.” Toxicological research vol. 33,2 (2017): 97-106. doi:10.5487/TR.2017.33.2.097
  2. Lissak, Gadi. “Adverse physiological and psychological effects of screen time on children and adolescents: Literature review and case study.” Environmental research vol. 164 (2018): 149-157. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2018.01.015

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Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.