I have often been surprised by my need for rest. Most people who know me know that I nap most everyday, and, only with exceptions (and often an extra bit of caffeine and adrenaline), do I get through my day without a rest period-- if not a whole 90 minute sleep cycle.
It seems not everyone "needs" this rest in the same way. At least, many people I know express that a nap would be nice, but never actually take a nap. This is interesting because I nap in response to an intense need to reset all of my systems. When I am fatigued I feel absolutely crummy and my productivity is hopeless. If I have to, I can generate enough stress induced adrenaline to get through a day of go go go, but that comes at a cost to my health and energy level the next day.
I have had a tough month with sickness. First a stomach bug then an upper respiratory infection. Basically, I was sick for about 4 weeks straight. And, I felt like I couldn't get better. I would try to take an extra rest here and there. Extra hour of a nap. Getting to bed early. Sleeping in. But, I was still ill and my productivity was shot. I felt useless.
Enough was enough, so I spent two days in bed. Not because I had a fever of 102, but because I couldn't kick the fatigue bit my bit. I needed a huge rest or, rather, a huge reset.
So, despite my intellectual desire to get work done, I could do none of it.
During this time, I felt like I would never feel better again. I felt like I had never been productive or never had enough energy to get through teaching a dance class. I was consumed by the present experience of being ill and completely spent.
And yet, after those two days of pure rest (relief from a standing expectation to produce), I started to feel better. First 70%, then 85% and now I feel at about 95% which is such a relief! The little nagging cough is nothing compared to the overall incapacity I had experienced. And, these past two days I have been hugely productive. Catching up on a pile of paperwork that had been looming on my to do list for over a month! It felt to so good to sent off that email, follow up on that phone call, clean up that mess, file those papers. Oh, the joys of feeling the power of productivity!
But, in reflecting on this past week, having felt so ill just 7 days earlier and only having felt marginally better 3 days ago, I am taking this moment to notice and observe that there is an ebb and flow to the way I do things. And, that is ok. Not everyday will feel as productive as the past two have, so I must remember during those dreary sick days that I will recover, that I will heal and return to the high point -- and that high point will eventually turn downward again.
I will always be changing, and I want to remember the nature of the natural rising and falling at each stage in the ebb and flow. It is impossible to be hyper productive 24/7 for 365 days a year. I know this intellectually, yet I was still holding myself to a ridiculous standard of high output each and everyday.
Perhaps as I become more honest and self accepting of my rhythms (as different as they seem from the people around me) the amount of energy I will increase. But, in the meantime, I am learning that I get to rest. That I get to change my pace as life comes at me.
Have you rested lately?