During this festive time of year you really start to notice how grumpy people can get. While the holiday season is normally filled with “good tidings and joy”, there is also an element of “stressed out and tired” – a sentiment which is really lacking in Christmas cheer. My solution to this conundrum, bring back naptime!
I interact with a lot of people in my day to day life. This is already taxing thanks to my introverted self but these interactions (both social and professional) are made more frustrating and difficult because most of the people I talk with have reached peak points of anxiety, over work, and stress. I have come to associate the flare up of these feelings with two main underlying causes – poor eating habits and lack of sleep. Personally, I lean more to the lack of sleep side. More times than I can count I have left a conversation with yet another anxious, grouchy person only to think, “Geez, somebody needs a nap!” (This is usually followed by an extreme desire to take one myself).
I am a proud napper. I take pride in my afternoon snoozes and encourage everyone to follow suit. True, I can’t always get a good nap in every day, but when I do, man do I feel like a million bucks afterwards! On the days a nap isn’t a possibility, I make sure to excuse myself for some quiet “me” time. I deliberately find time to let my brain wander and be still, with no expectations and no interruptions. This simple activity does wonders for recharging my energy batteries (again, I’m an introvert) and clearing my head. Some would call this meditation; I just call it “me” time. On average, I try for a minimum of one hour of “me” time (or napping time) per day, usually in the late afternoon. I find my energy depletes significantly during this time and I need space from outside distractions in order to just be still and silent for a little while. Since everyone’s energy levels are different in their ebb and flow, it’s important to pay attention to your own body and what it is telling you. I am a huge fan of Martha Beck, an internationally known life coach who regularly writes for O (Oprah’s) magazine. Martha is a defender of daily naps and will challenge anyone who thinks they are a waste of time. She strongly encourages people to slow down and listen to their bodies. To paraphrase a discussion in a recent online course I took with her, “if you’re tired, take a damn nap, your body is trying to tell you something!” I took this advice wholeheartedly and began to enthusiastically proclaim that naps were not only important but essential. After all, the woman is Harvard educated, so she should know.
Hence, I encourage everyone I meet to take a nap. Feeling tired? Go lie down. Stressed out and angry? Your pillow is calling. Loving life? Take a snooze with your puppy and you’ll ooze more happiness then you ever thought possible. With there being so many recommendations swirling around nowadays about how to de-stress and STOP, I strongly suggest reverting back to a REQUIRED activity from our childhood days. For most toddlers and pre-schoolers, naptime is part of the daily routine. An activity which many (I was one of them) hated because it meant having to stop dressing Barbie for the upcoming imaginary party or halt building production of a super amazing LEGO castle. We then grow into teenagers and crave more sleep. What most people don’t realize is that this is a normal stage of development as a teenager’s brain is going through yet another major stage of growth. Instead, sleep deprived teens are told they are lazy and unproductive when they say they are tired. Newsflash – they NEED naps! It’s biological, not behavioural. Fast forward to adulthood and we start learning to function on lack of sleep (I give special recognition to new parents or those caring for ill family members). What we desperately need to do is remind ourselves that sleep is a required part of living. Animals, wild and domestic, sleep and they do so without apology or compromise. As I write this my dog is wedged in between my leg and the sofa, snoring loudly. She could care less that I’m super uncomfortable and having to balance my laptop in a rather awkward position in order to type. What matters to her is that she’s tired and it is sleepy time. It would do us a huge service for own health and well-being to recognize the same in ourselves. I respect that so much. In fact, I may join her.