There are certain lessons in life we have to learn over and over. Such as: When you eat too much and exercise too little, you'll gain weight. Or, all work and no play is not only dull, but a recipe for stress, anxiety, and general misery.
I recently had to re-learn the importance of rest.
You'd think that I would have this one down pat. As the mother of a three-year-old and an eight-month-old, I spend a lot of time and energy making sure my kids get enough sleep (because I know they turn in to the tiny little crazy people without it). I have also spent many of the last three years waking up multiple times a night and calculating my total time slept in minutes rather than hours during the newborn phases. I don't think I ever truly cherished sleep before I had kids. I thought I was tired after one bad night's sleep. Ha!
So when we all came down with a dastardly upper respiratory infection, you'd think I would have known to take to my bed whenever humanly possible. That's what my husband did—during the three days when he had a fever and full-body aches, he stayed in bed while I cursed him behind his back and eventually to his face. When the fever struck me, I slowed down a little, but I kept up my usual routine, attempting to get things done while the kids napped and staying up for a couple of hours after they went to bed. I felt tired, sure, but at this point I was used to being tired.
Three weeks later, everyone else was the picture of health while I still coughed, hacked, and blew my nose on anything that stood still. I called my homeopath, and she asked if I'd been able to get any rest. That was my proverbial wake-up call, just that one simple question. "Um, not really," I admitted. Lesson learned.
That night I had my husband handle bedtime while I got in bed at 6. For the next few days, I napped when the kids napped and I got in bed shortly after they did. Only then did I finally get better.
I spend my working hours researching simple self-care practices that promote mental, physical, and emotional health, and I espouse taking better care of yourself to anyone who will listen. So if I had forgotten this message, you probably have too: Resting is not wimpy. In fact, it's one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself strong, or return yourself to vitality when you've gotten worn down.
And if you're taking part in the 28-Day Challenge, know that your body needs more rest now that you're exercising, detoxing, and creating new habits. Naps and early bedtimes will give your body the time it needs to incorporate the changes you're making and give you the energy you'll need to keep going.
Can you pledge to turn in an hour early tonight, or to make time for a nice nap this weekend? I'd love to hear your sleep resolutions.