Back when Mark and I were very first together, I was studying in Normandy and most weekends I would take the ferry from Ouistreham to Portsmouth. Mark would drive 3 hours south to collect me and we would spend the weekend together and complete the reverse journey on Sunday nights for me to make an overnight crossing. I recall seeing billboards on the motorway every so often that advised “Tiredness Kills”. I found that campaign rather bleak but obviously the message was to be aware of when you need to rest and/or sleep, pull over and not kill anyone behind the wheel of your vehicle. Sensible advice of course! More recently, I was following an “influencer” on Instagram who had just had her third child. Her message to her numerous followers, after “pulling up the drawbridge” to have undisturbed time to recover following the birth of her son was #napssavelives. This is a message I can wholeheartedly get behind. Naps do save lives.
Yesterday, after another fairly fitful night’s sleep, I woke up feeling quite groggy and off. I had a bit of a cold with a snuffly nose and didn’t really feel fit for purpose. The best choice I could have made was to declare a Duvet Day and just indulge in slowing down. Instead, I pressed on to visit the inlaw’s with my family and put on that stiff upper lip that British people are so famous for. It’s not like I was miserable with a dreadful lurgy but I was tired, worn out and quiet. This is not usually the case and as a result I was asked more than once by my husband what was wrong.
We visited Mark’s family and then, when faced with the prospect of having pasta for dinner, Mark chose to stop at the shop on the way home so he could get some jacket potatoes and various other bits. As he hustled into the store with about 20 minutes before closing time, I sat in the car with the children and the dogs and proceeded to “rest my eyes”. It was no good, I needed a nap. Finally, after arriving home and unpacking the groceries, I grabbed a blanket and retired to my bed for a much needed kip. I slept for a little over an hour and boy, what a lovely nap that was! I awoke feeling dramatically better, had a smile on my face and was happy to make dinner and chat with my family as per usual. Naps save lives.
What I am very slowly beginning to learn is that, at age 47 3/4, I need to listen to my body and give it what it needs in order for me to function at my best. When I function at my best, everyone else around me functions better. And that’s what’s best for the world. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to realise that I need to listen to my own body and what it needs? Perhaps it’s societal pressure to be and do and achieve? Perhaps it’s the idea that it’s selfish to do what I need to do? However, as I have begun to turn up the volume on the needs of my body, I have been rewarded by feeling better, happier and stronger. When I feel this way, everything in my life runs better. And if all I need to feel better is to have a 20-minute power nap or 60-minute indulgence nap, why shouldn’t I do it? There’s no need to ask permission or apologise for needing this time. Just take it. Naps save lives.
A couple of years ago, following two knee replacements, I joined a local fitness studio. They run spin classes, Body Pump and lots of other fun classes that I knew would motivate me. I had several streaks of attending classes regularly and did feel better for it but I also found that my body hurt so much! Not my knees thankfully but my muscles didn’t recover in the same way that they used to. Slowly it began to dawn on me that doing things that were more gentle, like walking and Yoga, made me feel just as good but without the muscle pain and inability to walk downstairs in the morning. HIIT programmes, Cross-Fit or C25K challenges needed to be relegated to “things I did when I was younger”. My future was outdoor walks, gentle Yoga and afternoon naps. And that’s okay.
Recently, I reached out to a local Physio who specialises in Pilates and post-natal recovery. I am 6+ years past being post-natal but my midsection has never recovered. I still look several months pregnant and it’s beginning to affect my back which is never a good thing. I contacted this Physio who visited me at home for a consultation. We had such a lovely chat about all of my physical challenges, past surgeries, pregnancies and births and current symptoms. She tested my diastasis recti (muscle separation of this rectus abdominus muscles) and announced that I have a 2 1/2-3 finger muscle separation but that my diastasis also is quite long. Instead of being simply a separation in the middle of my belly, my diastasis recti extends all the way to my diaphragm! I’ve always been an over-achiever! I was given exercises to work on and I will be attending her weekly Pilates classes at a local community centre.
Being my best Me means that I have to listen to what my body needs. If I need a nap, I need to take a nap. If I need a slice of gluten-free chocolate fudge cake, I will have a slice of gluten-free chocolate fudge cake. If I need to sit in the garden in the sun and soak up some Vitamin D for a few minutes during the day, then I will! What could you be doing to be your best you? Do you listen to your body? Do you give it what it needs? I highly recommend it. And of course, always remember, naps save lives.