"In my own kitchen I overheard my roommate’s mom say “I don’t know anyone who gets enough sleep.” I had to interject “I get enough sleep.” How did this get so normal? We’ve all gradually let the quality of our lives degrade year after year, working ever more hours and we tell ourselves A) we have no other options, and B) everyone else does it too.
It has to stop.
I’m here to say, enough! Sit with the tiredness. Feel the bones of your exhaustion. Notice where it shows up in your body. Do you have any aches? Take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh. The sigh can carry away from you some of that tiredness. Let it fall on the floor. Take another few breaths like this. Feel the seat of your chair rise up to hold your body.
Exhaustion eventually shows up in our bodies as getting sick. What are your earliest memories of getting sick? Were you allowed to rest or did you have to keep up your perfect attendance at school? Did your parents ever allow themselves to rest when they got ill? Even if they never shamed you when you got sick, if they never themselves set the model there you learned by watching their example.
Our exhaustion drains the life out of all the things that make life beautiful. There’s a dinner at a friend’s house, but you’re too pooped to go. There’s a show, concert, or movie, but you never bothered to get tickets. Too many of us have fallen down the spiral where we don’t even have the energy to do the things that give us energy.
Lie down. Close your eyes, even if you can’t sleep. Every day at 3pm, my granny would lie down for a nap. If I (rudely) interrupted her and asked if she was sleeping, she would invariably reply “No, I’m not sleeping, I’m just resting my eyes.”
You don’t need a coffee, you need to rest your eyes – and your brain for that matter. Do whatever you need to allow yourself to rest comfortably. I prefer to nap without an alarm, but that might not work for you. I feel like this should go without saying, but I fear it doesn’t – don’t check your phone while you’re napping. Turn it off, put it in another room, hide it inside a sock in the freezer whatever you have to do so that you won’t have to use willpower to keep from picking it up. An alarm can still wake you up if it’s across the room.
Even a short nap helps. Ten minutes of shutting your eyes does wonders to recenter you into your body. That’s not enough for me to fall asleep, but it’s enough to calm my nervous system.
Sadly, many offices lack a comfortable place to like down and shut your eyes. You might have to get creative. Can you take a few minutes in the breastfeeding room, your car or an out-of-the way conference room?