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Rest versus Comfort – What’s the Difference?

Posted on October 4, 2013 under Career & Work, Coaching


Whew! As another week winds down, most all of us look forward to the weekend. A time that is supposedly our own, when no work is to creep up into our schedules and we can dedicate ourselves to friends, family and leisure.


For many, Saturday and Sunday is when we “crash” and catch up on everything – sleep, laundry, playing with the kids and dogs, “date” night with your partner (or searching for a partner).  These activities recharge us; giving us the feeling of being alive and preparing for the coming week.


For others, the weekend brings a scary, empty feeling of not knowing what to do without the structure of the workplace or our endless “to-do” list running our lives (but of course you can run your “weekend” in a similar frantic Franklin Covey style).


Rest & Recuperation (R&R) is what we're traditionally prescribed for exhaustion or stress. God said to take the 7th day off. But what is it really all about and what does it look like?  What if you are rested but still not feeling great?


Here's the difference:




Definition: sleep, inactivity, repose, solitude, tranquility


Rest is more a physical need with components of emotional & spiritual.  If you're not getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night on a consistent basis then you are most likely exhausted and running up a sleep debit.  It's best to keep a regular, 7-days per week, bedtime schedule.  If you're lacking sleep you'll experience sleep marathons and wake up at noon or later.  Not that this is terrible, but it's a sign of what's happening.


Time away from others in a peaceful, tranquil space, such as a retreat house, church or a mountain, is a way to commune with yourself and spirit.  This rests the mind, processes emotions that haven't been processed, and fills you up with energy and purpose.


What if you get 9 hours of sleep per night, meditate, take time for yourself and still feel poorly?  Perhaps you can consider a practice of comfort.




Definition: relief, solace, consolation, satisfaction, ease, freedom from pain, anxiety or grief


Comfort is more of an emotional need supported by physical acts.  Acts of comfort are meant to address what's bothering you, what hurts, and what hasn't ever been properly addressed. 


When someone dies, most cultures have the ritual of mourning & funeral – there is a protocol of how to relay your sympathies, cards, flowers and casseroles are sent, family sits in the home, and religious ceremonies are performed.


But what happens when you've been dumped for the 50th time, your dog is sick, you lost your job, your parents or siblings are estranged, you had a miscarriage, or you don't have supportive friends?  There's no rules or rituals here.


I remember when I got divorced, 11 years ago now, that very few people knew what to say to me.  There were many times when I wish that I'd had a funeral instead because it was so awkward and painful for everyone involved.  No one really knows how to comfort when it's new territory.


The best solution is to get to the heart of what your need is in the moment.  You might need to talk things through with a trusted confidante, cry your head off, take a duvet day with tea, chocolate and bad movies, get a massage, plan a vacation, go into therapy or coaching, or detox from your addiction of choice.


Do you know what you need comfort from?  It can be hard to figure out.  But if you're rested and well, and something is still not right, know you have an underlying need. Become curious about what it is and then be gentle and loving in taking amazing care of you.


Sending you a comfort dog if you need one…

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