We all value hard work, success and achievement.
We spend our lives, from our time at school, in our careers, even at home, focusing on how much we can get done and how quickly we can do it.
However, we don’t value resting, going slowly and doing nothing.
In fact, culturally we can see this as a problem.
For most of us, doing nothing is a real challenge and can feel very uncomfortable.
From the moment our alarm goes off, the voice in our head says…”What have I got to do today?”.
Those busy days turn into busy months, which slide quickly into busy years, your children grow up and as they do, you find yourself teaching them to hurry up, to get the next thing done as quickly as you can!
But what are we really doing? How are we living? How can we learn to do less, slow down and enjoy our lives more?
One way is to regularly practice stopping and resting. The simplest way to do this is by having a nap.
I love napping!
It trains your nervous system to get comfortable with doing nothing. It teaches you how to rest and improves your ability to go to sleep easily. It is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your overall health.
When we rest our nervous system calms, settles and regulates all of our other systems.
Healing, growth, nutrient absorption and creativity all function better when our system is resting.
When you sleep you literally detox your brain.
The process involved in thinking releases toxins into the brain and sleep is essential for our brain’s cleaning cycle. This is why you can feel toxic and hungover just from lack of sleep.
Dreaming is a vital process for our mental health; it’s a nightly therapy session. When we dream our brain goes over and catalogues our experiences, but it shuts down the release of stress hormones associated with the experience. So the more we dream the more the emotional charge lessens in our memory, which helps us be more comfortable with our memories.
Learning to nap in the day time will actually improve your sleep at night, so long as you stick to a maximum of 20 mins.
Consider napping as part of your yoga practice.
It’s very simple, but like all the exercises I’m suggesting, it only works if you practice it.
Tips on how to practice napping
· Just curl up, tuck yourself into bed or on the sofa.
· Turn off your phone and set a timer for 20 mins.
· Encourage your body to become heavy and relaxed, and focus on your slow deep breaths. As your mind wanders, just keep focusing back to your breathing.
· It doesn’t matter how long you sleep for, it’s the process of nodding off that relaxes and resets your system. So even if you’re only asleep for 2 out of the 20 minutes it will still work.
· At first it will be hard for your mind to switch off and you might not sleep, but you will still be resting and slowing down, and with practice sleep will come more easily. Again it’s all about practicing.
· For additional health benefits you can also practice restorative yoga positions in your 20 min rest. Lying with your legs up the wall is an excellent restorative that requires very few props, as I demonstrated in the video. This position will help with lymph drainage, immune system function, heart health and can release tension in the back and hips.
If you work full time, it can be hard to find the time to nap. But it’s not impossible. Practice napping at the weekends, on holidays and try a short nap when you get home as it’s a great way to unwind after work.
Making time in your life to stop and rest will actually give you more time in the long run. You not only increase your life expectancy, but it’s in the moments when we stop that we have time to reflect. To ponder and re-evaluate. To prioritising what’s really important. Your health, your loved ones and this moment that is so wonderfully precious.
Take care and sleep well, Jess.