Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is a board-certified Internal Medicine Physician, speaker, author, and international wellness expert featured in numerous media outlets. Together with Adam Markel, they discuss how taking a rest at the most optimal times can save you from the dangers of burnout, exhaustion, and overwhelm. The effects of rest and recovery are profound and impact not just our physical but mental resilience. Even those that feel successful and on track are susceptible to feelings of overwhelm, emptiness and even suicide when they ignore rest. Dr. Saundra explains how depriving yourself of sleep just to accomplish your goals is not worth it under any circumstances. She also talks about the seven types of rest, emphasizing why rejuvenation must always go beyond just the physical level.
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Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith On How Taking A Rest Can Change Your Daily Grind
I feel incredibly honored and privileged to be in a position to have a voice. Not everybody feels as though they have a voice. Not everybody feels heard even when they speak, interestingly enough and that’s both something that’s important to be aware of, to note and also to do something about. This show is a way for me to do something about it. What I love about blogging is I feel like it is a viable method for anybody that has something you want to say, is curious about and is willing to put the time and the effort in. There’s definitely a lot of effort involved in creating one of these things and sustaining it.
I highly recommend it because it’s something anybody can do. It’s truly a level playing field when it comes to that. There’s no government involvement. Nobody’s deciding which blog people read and which one they don’t. This is my unplanned infomercial for the blog medium. I also feel lucky because I’ve got a great guest. Somebody that I’m excited that I get to introduce to all of you. Somebody that has been doing some remarkable things in the world for some period of time now. I don’t want to make her out to be old or anything but she’s got experience. I feel proud that I’ve got some experience, too. We’re going to have a great conversation.
First of all, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is a board-certified Internal Medicine Physician. She’s a speaker and an author. She’s also an international wellness expert featured in numerous media outlets including Prevention, MSNBC, Women’s Day, Fox, Fast Company and Psychology Today and as a guest on The Dr. Oz Show. She is the author of numerous books, which include insight on seven types of rest that are needed to optimize your productivity, increase your overall happiness and overcome burnout. ￼This is one of the things I’m fascinated to talk to her about. It’s almost as if Saundra that what you’ve been doing in your life and what I’m fascinated about when I talk to people and we share information about resilience, those two things couldn’t be more aligned. First of all, welcome and thank you for being on the show.
Thanks for having me.
In that bio, there’s tremendous time and effort that’s gone into the things that you’ve done in your life. What’s one thing that’s not in that bio that you would love for people to know about you?
I’m a mom of two teenagers. That should say enough right there. I’m married for more than twenty years to the love of my life. Probably the thing few people know about me is that although I majored in Biochemistry from medical school, I minored in Jazz Dance. I don’t think those two typically go together.
Those two things are definitely different. I got a great question for you. What’s the connection point between those two things, do you think?
It was my stress relief, to be honest with you. Dance was how I unwound after all the hours in the lab.
Let’s talk a little bit about that. I love the way we’re going to lead into this. My research and the research that I’ve read of other people show that resilience is not about endurance. It’s not about that winning the Night Owl Award, if you will. It’s about recovery. It’s not about how you endure. It’s how you recover in the process that you have for recovery. It sounds to me like when you were studying undergrad that you had a process for regenerating yourself. Tell us a little bit more about that. Did you do it on purpose? Was it something that intuitively made sense?
It was completely intuitive because I had no background with anything having to do with rest or burnout or the things that I do now. I realized that after hours of spending, doing all the things required to become a doctor that there had to be some time when I let loose. I wasn’t deep in the books or doing calculations and all the things that were required. Dance was a time that I could be myself. I didn’t have to think about if I was getting calculations right. I didn’t have to worry about MCATs and resumes and have those different parts and pieces. For me, that was where the restoration came. Just knowing that there was this thing that I could do, that I love doing on top of and I enjoyed doing that had no other purpose other than I loved it. I minored in that. It’s interesting now that I look back on it, that I minor in something that I loved simply because it makes me happy.The brain is almost like an unruly child. If you let it run away with whatever it wants to run away with, it's going to do that. Click To Tweet
Let’s call out who the burnout kings and queens are. I got to travel to Japan to deliver a Fuso talk, which was to this group of executives from Daimler-Benz and Mitsubishi. I had to break the news to the Japanese that they are the most sleep-deprived workers on planet Earth only second to Singaporeans. Who are their main culprits? Doctors are burnout and exhausted. Are they at the top of the list? Is it my old profession, the legal profession? Is it lawyers? Who is it?
Honestly, as a physician, I don’t think I could have gotten more burned out than I did when I think about medical school, residency and the expectations. Even just looking back, residency wasn’t that long ago. Twenty years ago or so, when I was in residency, it was nothing. Did you expect us to work 15 or 16 hours? You were expected to be on the top of your game at that. All-night shifts and then 8:00 AM grand rounds where questions are being thrown at you right and left and somebody’s lives in your hands. It’s interesting that some of the professions and roles that people are in that keep them sleep deprived but yet they’re not expected to be able to have any type of error in their response to the job that they’re doing.
They’ve got to be impeccable. At the same time, from a physical, mental, emotional standpoint, maybe even a spiritual standpoint, they’re depleted and they’re not at their optimal best. First of all, how do you think they cope as a physician or the other people and other groups that you’ve studied? Number two, what’s the cost in terms of lives, productivity and money?
The thing that I’m noticing particularly is that people who successfully complete those types of professions. Lots of people start off pre-med in college and don’t become doctors. Those who successfully completed are the people who have a tendency to be high achievers and have a high resilience level. They have learned how to adapt to adverse situations. It’s almost as if their gifting is able to overcome some of the fatigue. What we witness oftentimes is that people who are able to function even though they’re exhausted and because of their adaptability have learned how to push past the fatigue and still produce.
Are they producing their best product? Probably not but they are producing. Compared to maybe someone who doesn’t have that same work ethic or that same high achiever spirit that drives them, they look like they are successfully getting the job done even while doing it from a place of depletion. Is that beneficial? No because what ends up happening is that’s when we see successful people end up committing suicide because they don’t feel like their work had any value. In that process, you lose a bit of yourself in doing that.
We always hear that expression and it’s more than an expression, it’s a philosophy that to give is better than to receive. People that are in many of these professions do go into it because they want to give up themselves. I’m not saying that there isn’t business, money and all that, that drives some of those desires as well. In many ways, it’s about being of service and being selfless on some level. We’ve heard about many successful people. Not people in the entertainment space but all kinds of people. When they’re on stage, they look impeccable and it looks like they’ve got it all together but when the lights are off and there aren’t people in front of them to serve, they are in states of depression or anxiety. Ultimately, in some cases even considering they’re taking their lives. Suicide is a big issue among doctors and lawyers.
That’s the thing because you’re busy working and producing and you’re doing it sacrificially almost to your own health and detriment that there becomes this point where you start questioning, “Is this what I trained for? Is this the life that I want?” That’s the point that I got to and that’s where I start off in my book, Sacred Rest. I start off on the floor questioning, “Why am I doing this? Why am I burning the candle at both ends?” You spend years training for a career and then when you’re in the middle of that career that you thought was going to make you happy and provide all the things that you dreamed for. You’re living the dream, so to speak and the dream feels like a nightmare then what?
Take us back if you could into them. You’ve given us that description. What was it like to be in your shoes at that point in time? Where were you? You’re out of medical school and you’ve completed your residency. Bring us back if you could.
It was an interesting time because I had everything that I said that I wanted. I had two kids and they were both toddlers at the time. I had the house, car, man and bank account. I had booked contracts and media appearances. Looking on the outside, everyone would have been like, “She has made it.” That is the dream. That is what you aspire to. I would come home and I would be so exhausted. I don’t mean just tired. I was working probably 50 hours a week in the medical practice. Yes, I was physically tired but I was mentally, emotionally, spiritually every type of tired you could think of.
I remember coming home and I would lay out because I felt like every ounce of me was wrung out at the office. There was nothing left. I remember telling my husband that one day. He gave me a hug and I was like, “I’m sorry. I have nothing left to give you today.” The expression on his face, as you can imagine, was like, “What?” When you get to that place of utter depletion, nothing seems to make sense anymore. Particularly when that’s what you’ve been spending your life working towards, that’s what you said you wanted but now that you’re living it, it’s not what you wanted.
Tell us about the research as well that this inspired and what the pivot was for you in terms of that. You’ve already shared what your mindset was at the time. I know when I was in that position, I ended up in the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. It was an anxiety attack that was going on but it created such physical symptoms in me that I thought I’m going to die. I hadn’t gotten farther down the road than that before I started to make some changes.
Fortunately for me, I didn’t end up clinically depressed or even having the thought that maybe I wasn’t long for the world. I did tell my wife though. I did at one point have a moment like you with your husband. I said to her, “If I keep doing what I’m doing, you’re going to be a widow.” That wasn’t because I was thinking I was going to take my life. I just thought, “There’s no way my body can hold on anymore.” It was exhausting to the point where you can’t even explain what that feels like.
As a physician, it was weird because for me, automatically I started to treat myself like I would one of my patients if they came to me with that list of complaints. I did the battery of tests and checked everything from my thyroid to my adrenals to every vitamin level out there. All the tests and all the studies trying to determine if there was some medical reason may be that I was feeling this way and of course, they all came back perfectly normal.
The adrenal function, all of that was normal?
Everything was perfectly normal, when I say perfectly normal, as far as a medical lab work test. Keep in mind when you’re checking your cortisol levels medically, the range is huge. Within the normal range is huge.
Is that because we are constantly producing low-level responses or anxious responses to things that our cortisol levels are constantly activated?
They have a diurnal process to them as well, so they change also depending on the time of day. Because of that, when you do the blood test in the reference lab, the range that they put is huge because it’s covering that change, that natural fluctuation that occurs so it’s difficult for that. Unless someone has Addison’s or something like that where the range is off the charts, then you’re not going to notice a difference.
All of those tests came back negative for me, so then it was like, “I’m probably just sleep-deprived.” There are lots of side effects of sleep deprivation. Where I started is making a point of, “I’m going to get these 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night no matter what I have to do.” That’s what I did for about a month. After a month of getting more sleep than I had in probably twenty years, I still was exhausted. That’s when the bells and whistles went off that there has to be something else that’s missing and I’m not getting and sleep isn’t curing it.
Let’s talk about that. A lot of people they’re reading this go, “I would do anything just to let me sleep for the entire weekend. I’ll be back on my feet and feeling like my old self come Monday or Tuesday.” What you’re saying is not so fast.
A lot of people are doing that. Honestly, you can go to any medical doctor and get a list of medicines that will knock you out and have you sleeping great. We’ve got all kinds of ways to knock you out and put you to sleep but that still doesn’t necessarily result in feeling rested, restored or refreshed. That’s what I wanted to feel. I was getting sleep but I still would wake up just as tired as I went to bed. That’s when I started looking at what type of tired I am. What exactly is tired? Because my body didn’t feel tired. I was getting adequate sleep but I was still having a lot of problems with foggy brain types of symptoms and difficulty concentrating. I still had little motivation and wasn’t inspired to do some of the things I love.By realizing that everyone is hurt somehow, you can feel less alone and more connected with others. Click To Tweet
I love dance and I love music. I had no desire to do any of those things. I noticed that I didn’t have fun with people anymore. I wanted to avoid people and I felt like it was a lot of energy to be around people. It was one of those things where I started to piece by piece look at the different areas of my life and what those different areas look like that, I was getting exhausted in and then going back to the research to take a look at, “What is this? Is there a name for it? Are other people experiencing this?” I had the benefit of having lots of patients that I could evaluate.
Built-in group for research.
I don’t want to say they were guinea pigs. They were tired, too. It was like, “We’re all tired. Let’s attack this thing systematically.”
Symptoms are foggy brain, perhaps lack of enthusiasm to maybe be around other people or even finding yourself not wanting or creating fun. What else?
That’s the thing. When I started going through these, it started pulling apart into different types of areas. There is the physical part of it where I started noticing I had a lot of muscle aches and pain. I tend to hold a lot of stress within my body. I started noticing those symptoms. We talked about the mental part. Particularly I would have a lot of difficulties falling asleep at night. My mind would be racing with all these thoughts. My headspace wouldn’t clear out and shut up long enough for me to get into deeper qualities or deeper levels of sleep.
I started noticing that the motivation levels were down. I started noticing that I had a lot of issues, specifically with the type of people I was spending time with. I left my patients but my patients all require something from me. Every relationship that I was in was a relationship that was pulling something from me and I don’t have any relationships where somebody doesn’t need something from me. The patients need answers, nurses want a callback and kids want dinner. Everybody needed something.
That’s when I started looking at all of these different areas of my life where I felt like I was pouring out and started thinking about how to restore each of these areas. Out of that came seven specific types of rest or restorative activity categories that I feel most of us need on a regular basis but because we’re not intentional about getting rest in these seven areas, that we find ourselves with rest deficits. We then start feeling tired and can’t understand why sleep isn’t fixing it.
I’d love to go into those seven areas if you’re game for it. We’re talking about rest and restfulness and how it is that despite getting sleep, you can still be in a place of rest deficit. Let’s start with number one. What’s the first way that we can gain rest?
Physical rest is the one most people are familiar with to some degree. Unfortunately, most of us when we think about physical rest, we’re only thinking about the passive form of physical rest, which is sleeping and napping. Physical rest also has an active component. It’s the things that help restore circulation, helps our lymphatic system and improves the integrity and flexibility of our muscles. It includes things like stretching, yoga and leisure walks. Things that improve the flow within our body and help our body get back to a healed and restored state. That’s important to keep in mind specifically for anyone who works at a desk, maybe sitting at a desk for long periods of time. It’s necessary to be aware of just the body ergonomics of where you’re positioned during the day and how it affects your energy level.
Sometimes, if you’re sitting with poor posture or you’re having a situation where at the end of four hours of working at your computer, your neck, back and all of these things are hurting and they weren’t hurting before you sat down. You need to be aware of that because it’s having a negative effect on your body. Trying to push through it as many of us do, keep going and then the workday will be over, it is causing a drain and a strain on your system that’s unnecessary. It’s going to continue to weaken you, whether it’s your immune system or even your musculoskeletal health.
Physical is being active and passive. Not just physically sleeping or resting or napping but stretching, yoga and other things that would maybe cleanse the lymphatic system or create better posture for you. A number of different things that all come together under physical. That’s first. What’s another one?
Mental rest is another. Mental rest deficit is that person who goes to bed at night and they’re thinking about all the things they need to do the next day. They’re checking off their to-do list. They can’t get their brain to go to that quiet place. What mental rest is, it’s learning how to make the brain behave. The brain is almost like an unruly child. If you let it run away with whatever it wants to run away with, it’s going to do that. Whether that’s negative toxic thoughts, anxious thoughts, depressive thoughts, it’ll run down whatever rabbit hole it is the easiest way for it to go. However, we can train the brain to go back to a quiet place. It’s almost like telling it to go back to timeout.
One of the simplest ways of doing that would be some people call it meditating but pick a word or phrase or something that you’re going to focus your thoughts on so that you’re not just letting it run around wherever it wants to go. You’re directing it back to something that is calming, peaceful and that allows you to get things back into control. If you’re that person who does the mental checklist, you’re trying to check off all of the things you want to do the following day, doing a brain dump or having a notepad where you’re jotting this information down can be helpful. Because then it releases the brain from the responsibility of having to hold on to that information.
This is the old counting sheep thing a little bit, too, right?
Yeah. That meditating part is the counting sheep because you’re focusing on something. You’re not letting it be like, “Why does she think to say that about me?” We call it monkey brain because you’re swinging from one thought to the other thought to the other thought. You can’t sleep well like that. You will never get into those deeper levels of stage 3 and 4 non-REM sleep where the restoration occurs in sleep. You’ll stay in those lighter phases.
Physical is one. Mental is two. Number three?
Spiritual is one that’s interesting. It depends on your spiritual background, makeup and belief system. The way I address it with people is by thinking about the bigger picture of all of that. What is it that makes you feel like you belong and you’re accepted? What groups or patterns of living in the world make you feel like you’re a part of something? Not like you’re just out there on your own, by yourself. There’s a bit of community in feeling included that helps people to feel grounded. Whether that’s with a specific religious system or with a mindset of that, it’s important that be present because for most people, without it, there’s this bit of disconnect.
We see it often when we’re thinking about what I call the human condition. The way the world is and the things people are going through. If you look at social media, there are all types of reasons people can be upset but when you’re looking at the fact that we all hurt, have emotions, deal with joy and pain and it’s helpful to make you not feel like you’re the only one and that you’re alone in the world. Also, making sure that we stay connected in a way.
Four is emotional rest and that has to do with having the freedom to not have to keep your mask on, be able to be completely authentic and not carry what I call the stress of professionalism. I find that a lot of people who are high achievers, who have jobs or roles or positions that place them in front of others or they’re on display or they’re looked up to or they’re leading. There’s a stress that is associated with professionalism. It’s not that you’re trying to be inauthentic. You’re just being professional. You’re living at the role of that level but you can’t do that all day. There has to be a time when you can let your hair down, let loose and be yourself.Although we are technically connected, we are still disconnected in today's remote setup because the presence part is not there. Click To Tweet
I’ll use myself as an example. My normal personality is a little bit goofy and silly. If I’m hanging out with the nurses in the ICU, we could be cracking jokes about all kinds of stuff. When someone comes in with an emergency, it’s not appropriate for me to crack a joke when somebody’s family’s dying on the table. I don’t care if there’s something hilarious I could say at the moment but usually, there isn’t. It wouldn’t be appropriate. There’s a level of professionalism that requires me to stay within that role when I’m working. I have to remember that I don’t have to be that person all the time. I can just be me and I can say something stupid and not care if anybody heard me or not because I have those moments of emotional rest, where I can be truthful about where I’m at and what’s going on in my life.
You get to be off and not just perpetually on. I get that. Five, after emotional, comes?
Social rest is the rest we experience around people who are positive influences, positive energy. Most of us spend the majority of our time around people who are negatively pulling from our energy. Not that they’re negative people. It’s just the relationship that they are needing things from us. Our clients, colleagues, coworkers, bosses, kids and spouses are all needing things from us. A lot of the statistics show that adults have fewer adult friends now than ever.
This is before all of this 2020 stuff happens in general. That’s sad to think about because it’s those adult friends who you like hanging out with, who don’t need anything from you but you have a good time with each other. They can pour back positive energy into your life. There’s what we call the power of presence. That is a thing that we have to get back to. The importance of spending time with those people who don’t need us but we like being around.
I’m also in my mind wondering why it is that with the advent of social media and so much “connection” or a supposed connection, there would be that trend that adults have fewer friends as we grow older.
Interesting point because with social media, what I saw mostly with the social rest aspect of it is that the presence part is the key. If you can see someone’s facial expressions, their mannerisms and hear their voice inflection, all of those things play with how a person is received and the energy that you get from a person. However, on social media, you don’t have that most of the time. In a text message, you don’t have that.
You find that people have a tendency to be extremely rude, extremely blunt and can say things that you’re thinking, “How could you even say that to another person?” Because they don’t have that presence to keep us in check with the humanity part of it. You can be as horrible as you want to be to somebody when you don’t have to see how your words hit them. That’s keeping us at a level of disconnect. Even though we are technically connected, we are disconnected because we don’t have the presence part there.
You’re not getting the cues or being able to empathize because you don’t have to. You can say what you like and you don’t see where it lands and how it impacts someone and how it affects somebody.
You even say it if you write an email to a friend and they don’t write you back for a week and you’re like, “Are you mad at me? What happened?” “I didn’t mean it like that. I was being funny.” They didn’t know you were being funny. They didn’t hear the sarcasm in your voice. They just saw the rudeness on the email, so you have to be mindful of that. I personally prefer if you’re going to say something that’s questionable then you probably should do it in some type of video chat session so that they can see what it is you’re trying to say.
We’ve got physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and social. Number six?
Sensory rest is just like it sounds. It’s downshifting all the sensory input that we have in our lives. It’s all our gadgets, notifications on our gadgets, lights, blue lights and all of the things that we use that are supposed to make our lives easier but in the process also increase our sensory overload opportunities. Many of us stay chronically sensory overloaded and aren’t aware of how much sensory input we’re getting within a day.
TVs playing when no one’s watching, bright lights throughout the day and not having our computers go into a dark mode when the night comes, having our clocks or even our cell phones on by our bed with the light shining in our face while we’re trying to sleep and then wondering why we can’t sleep well. There are many sensory inputs going on that we have to be aware of and get back to an appreciation of silence, darkness and making sure that we are having time in our day when we are doing that. Even if it’s as simple as if you’re working on your computer to take a five-minute break to close your eyes.
When you close your eyes, you automatically get this sense of calming from that momentary sensory deprivation. If you have the benefit of a sensory deprivation tank that you can try out some time in your city, it’s quite the experience. I would say go slow with that because it can feel like a panic attack if you’ve never been in the darkness by yourself with all your thoughts but as you gradually increase your level of sensory deprivation, that can be an amazing experience.
I’ve heard this statistic that we are touching our phone or actively engaged with our gadgets more than 150 times a day and they call it constant cognitive arousal. Have you heard of that? It’s shocking when you think about adding up how much time alone is spent in that activity throughout a day. It’s hours and hours.
The strange thing with that is that when I first started as a physician in residency, they gave us a pager and I was all excited. “I had a pager. I’m a real doctor now.” Every time the pager goes off, my heart rate would go up, my hands would become sweaty and I’m like, “Something’s happening. I’ve got to jump and get ready.” People are having the exact same response every time their phone notification goes off. It wasn’t healthy back then and it’s still not healthy, particularly now that it’s all day every day. The number of notifications from social media to emails to news alerts. You can get notifications 100 times a day. Do you need to be startled that often?
They are like alerts. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs. In that study, dogs would salivate when they would hear this bell ring. When we hear our notifications going off, we have a different thing happening that’s producing this alert response from us, which is cortisol, adrenaline and others flowing in our bodies. These are fine when we’re in need of that response but not so fine when it’s perpetually producing low-level anxiety throughout the day when we don’t have any anxiety. There’s nothing to be anxious about.
Our fight or flight response is needed. If someone’s chasing you with an axe, you might want to run. It’s your time to go into fight or flight mode when someone’s texting you to let you know that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back at Starbucks, not so much.
Maybe not. Number Seven?
Seven is creative rest. That was the one with the least amount of research. That took the most pulling out the pieces of what that looks like. It’s the one that most of us intuitively have already been doing. We’ve been downplaying it because we didn’t appreciate what it was doing for us. Creative rest is the rest we experience when we allow ourselves to experience the beauty of nature, art, music, symphony, theatre or all of those things where you have the awe and wonder awakened inside of you. One of the areas where most people experience this was with bodies of water.
A lot of the research had to do with bodies of water and how people’s MRI responded with looking at the ocean or looking at a lake or something like that. You hear a lot of people say, “I feel restored and refreshed when I’m around these natural types of settings.” What was interesting to me is that the same response happened in the MRI of brains when people were looking at images of it. They weren’t at the beach. A lot of us think, “I feel great when I’m at the beach or in the woods,” but it showed that they had the exact same response. With creative rest, that was the part that was interesting because many of us can’t just jump and take a vacation every time we need to feel restored but there are things that we can do to help restore that creative part of ourselves because we are using it throughout the day.
A marketing person is having to be innovative, stay on top of their game and try to make sure that they’re coming up with new thoughts and new ideas that are creative. Same as what the physician. You’re having to figure out how to treat this person’s high blood pressure when they have ten allergies. This person doesn’t want to take the pill, so you’re having to creatively think of ways to do the same thing with different audiences. It’s important to realize how much creative energy we use as a society and that too has to be restored.
Even looking at pictures of water has scientifically similar results to going to the beach and walking along the shore?People who need to stay highly inspired need settings that are inspired. Click To Tweet
Yeah. The interesting thing was it was not just pictures of the water but the colors of the ocean. They did a room that had a wall that was aqua-colored. We see a lot of this now in these Silicon Valley types of offices where you’ll see they have these beautifully colored walls. That’s the logic behind them. People who need to stay highly inspired need settings that are inspired. That is the creative rest aspect of it.
The environment is important. I love this conversation. Would you remind us of the name of the book where you expand on much of this, I would assume?
The book is Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity.
When did this book come out? Is it a couple of years ago already?
It came out a couple of years ago in the hardcover and audiobook version of it and then was re-released in the paperback version in 2019.
When you were a guest on Dr. Oz, you were talking about rest. That was the reason you were there, right? Is your research now begun to evolve? What’s new on the horizon for you?
The biggest thing that I’m finding that people are having questions about and it’s always been this case has been how do I know which of these seven is the one that I need most and I need to focus on. That’s where the Rest Quiz came from. That’s where the research is being extrapolated from with people taking the Rest Quiz and getting the results from there. It’s as simple as RestQuiz.com. It takes about five or so minutes to do the quiz and then you get an email that tells you which of the seven you have the highest level in. You can focus your attention on getting more restorative activities in that 1 area or 2 but you don’t have to try to get all seven because honestly, most of us are automatically getting some of these without even thinking about them.
How nice it is to be conscious of it and aware of what you could be doing even more of when it’s working. It’s good it’s working if you don’t know it’s working but even better when you do know, “This is how I take care of myself.” I’m totally fascinated with this￼. Right before you were saying that, I go, “I hope she has a quiz, an assessment or something like that.” We have an assessment on our website as well. Those assessments especially when they’re short, 3 to 5 minutes, you can gain so many insights from it when the questions and the processes set up well, which I absolutely believe would be in this case. I would like to end with one question to you, which is what’s the one thing that you do on a ritual basis that you know is your go-to? If you got to pick one thing to develop your resilience for that day and you feel depleted in some area, what’s the one thing you go to?
The one thing I do every morning, the second I roll out of bed, I ask myself, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how energized do I feel?” Depending on what that number determines what I do that day because if I automatically feel like I’m at a five then I’m evaluating, “Where do I need to do restorative work?” I found for myself that I spent a long time working out of my emptiness. Although I can produce at that level, it is not my best work. I don’t want to live like that. I want to live where I’m producing my best work. I evaluate and then I determine what needs to be worked on and then from there I determine where I am going to pour myself out of.
I absolutely loved the way you describe that as working out of my emptiness. I haven’t heard that language in quite that way before. Saundra, I appreciate you. Thank you for being a part of what we’re doing here. A lot of people get tremendous value out of what you’ve shared with us and a tangible way to approach resilience. The rest component is something that we’re often either told overtly or it’s implied that we can just sleep a little less, do a little bit more with our days, be a little bit more productive and work a little harder.
A lot of people talk that language out there into the space, “Start your side hustle at 7:00 at night and keep going until 1:00 AM or 2:00 AM and you’ll be just fine. Get up and start the day over again. Work your day job and do your side hustle.” That is such dangerous advice to give to people because long-term, it isn’t going to produce what will result in a life that’s healthy, peaceful, joyful, happy, balanced or whatever. A harmonious life does not come from that kind of excess and perpetuates that screaming, yelling fire in a crowded theater to me. I appreciate your perspective on all this. Thank you for being a guest on the show.
Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
I remind myself of the ritual that I use each day to wake up and be awake. It’s three parts. First one, wake up. Two, in that waking moment. Isn’t it true, Saundra? We don’t have a guarantee if we go to sleep tonight that we’re going to wake up tomorrow. I’m waking up. Isn’t it possible that the first thought you have could be gratitude for the fact that you are in fact opening your eyes for that day? Three is what are the words that come out of your mouth? I do believe we speak our lives into being and so much of what we experience in life is what we say we’re going to experience.
If you start out with your aches, pains, complaints and any number of other ways that you can start the day or with nothing in particular in mind, you have random things show up. For me, my experience when I start out my day in a definitive way, the way my grandmother would say, “Start out on the right foot.” The right foot is the right thought. What do I want to have come out of my mouth at the beginning? I gave a TED Talk about this one thing. It’s ‘I love my life’. That’s it. Four words. Start the day, I always say that same thing.
I love that.
You can try it tomorrow morning.
All of you out there, you try anything out that you want and let us know what you love to say when you start your day. Let us know whether you’ve got some rest deficits and how this talk helped you because I know it was wonderful to be a part of it. I love to get your comments. Go to AdamMarkel.com/podcast to leave a comment and subscribe if you haven’t. If you know somebody that could benefit from reading what’s been shared here about rest and a lot of this other conversation, please share this episode with them. Let them know that we are here as well to support them. Thank you and have a beautiful blessed rest of your day.
- Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith
- Sacred Rest
- TED Talk – DOING THIS for 10 Seconds Can Change Your Life!
About Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is 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, INC, 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. Over 100,000 people have discovered their personal rest deficits using her free assessment at RestQuiz.com. Learn more about Dr. Saundra at IChooseMyBestLife.com and DrDaltonSmith.com.