It's easy to keep pushing through life, doing, doing, doing no matter how tired we are. I've been as bad as anyone for that at time. Habit, I reckon, from many years as a single parent when there were things that just had to be done and there was no one else to do them.
I'd become so used to functioning in overdrive, making sure that things were done that it was difficult for me to know when to stop and take a rest. On top of that, I spent my days doing work that I loved. When it doesn't feel like work, it's easy to keep doing it because I'm enjoying it so much so I have to be careful about this.
At least I am lucky enough to be in a position where I can nap if I so choose. To be honest, there are few pleasures so sweet in life as curling up in my favourite chair with a thick, warm blanket, and settling in for a delicious afternoon nap. It is such a blessed relief to close my aching eyes, and in a heartbeat, or perhaps two, I have drifted off to a quiet and gentle place of rest for a little while.
Sometimes, this is the best and deepest sleep I have. Without fail, it makes me feel so much better. I can dive back into my work with renewed energy, a fresh look and a huge weight lifted off me. I am reminded once again of the importance of listening to my body, my mind, my spirit, for all of them grow weary. They need rest and none of us can escape that. It is the only way we have a chance to recover, to recharge, for our bodies to repair, restore, and rebuild.
There cannot only be output; eventually, we would have nothing left to put out. As with all things in life, there is a cycle; we must have input, too, of new ideas, of food, of time spent doing things we love. We are like lakes, requiring a fresh source of water to keep us from getting stagnant, a river flowing in on one side, and out on the other. In between, the surface of the lake is still, but at its depths, there is life, growth and movement.
Many cultures have the right idea about the importance of naps. In some countries, everything shuts down for a while in the afternoon. What a brilliant plan. It's one of my favourite things about Spain, where you can sit for hours in a restaurant after it closes for the afternoon, and there you are eating olives and bread, drinking wine, while the staff disappears into the back for their own siesta as you relax for a while.
But we seem to think we're slackers if we have a little down time during the day, even if we're not getting nearly enough sleep at night. We continue to tear through our lives at 90 miles an hour like our hair is on fire.
Then we wonder why we have significant health problems, anxiety disorders or depression. We are not machines. Even the strongest warrior needs to rest; we are not defective because we can't work 27 hours a day.
If you are at all able to have a wee nap sometimes, when your energy slumps and you begin to droop, please listen to your body's wisdom. If you can set an alarm and doze off in an empty office or in your car on your lunch break, or if you can get children settled quietly doing something so you can have even 20 minutes' rest, you will be so much better for it.
Memories are sharper, moods are improved, health is better, creativity returns, and there is a far greater sense of wellbeing than when we drag ourselves through every day, so tired we don't know what to do with ourselves. When we are rested and refreshed, we are healthier, happier, and more productive.
Be nice to yourself. Take a little 'time out'. Have a delicious little snooze when you get the chance. It doesn't take much to make a big difference.
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