There’s something especially delicious about that time in the afternoon after having lunch when I set my timer to 25 minutes and climb into bed. I get a similar feeling as when I skipped a class back in High School or when something that’s been stressing me out all of a sudden gets cancelled – a sense of having been gifted stolen time.
I lie flat on my back, place one hand on my chest, the other on my belly and just feel my breath as it moves in and out. I feel my whole body becoming heavier and heavier. Slowly my mind starts drifting into a place where I can still hear the sounds of the street but it’s as if I’m in a different space. An even heavier and more expanded sensation fills my body and a part of me wishes I could stay here forever. I drift in and out of consciousness. Then without having felt the time pass I wake up to the sound of my alarm.
It’s a different experience from waking up in the morning. Somehow it’s faster but it takes my mind a bit longer to get clear. Not many minutes later I feel completely refreshed – energized and ready to embark into the second half of my day.
I nap as many days as possible. I think napping is my favorite self-care practice. After having been through a mental and physical burnout, self-care is one of my main priorities in life. I sometimes get disheartened when I read about self-care as being a bunch of to-dos to add to one’s life. I see it as the opposite: a need to take out activities to make space for napping, for doing nothing, for slowing down.
By napping regularly, I can tap into my stress levels and keep them in check. I find it much more challenging to fall asleep when I’m in a high paced state. If I don’t take the time out I easily just keep pushing myself until it gets to be too much, until I become ill.
When we’re in a high paced state we often keep adding activities, information or inputs whenever there’s a tiny space in our day. What we really need to do is pause, breathe and take a time-out. Personally, I see it when my natural pauses become a time when I have to fill out the silence: if I just need to read messages AND listen to a podcast while eating, when I hurriedly have to scroll through my phone when sitting somewhere waiting, or if I think I have to add a bunch of items to my to do list even though I already feel overbooked.
It’s almost like we don’t know how to stop because it takes more effort than to keep going. It’s like driving a car. Once you’re driving fast you can more easily keep increasing the speed but it takes concentrated effort and a bit of time to stop the car. This is where our mindfulness needs to step in. When we are aware of our warning signs and habitual patterns we can create nurturing circumstances to support ourselves.
By making sure to clear out time for breaks, pauses and maybe a nap throughout the day, we create conditions that help us listen to that wiser voice of awareness.
I invite you to tap into self-care not as something else to-do, but as something to explore by doing less.