Feeling Like a Bratty Two-Year-Old? Take a Nap!


“I don’t want to take a nap!” I said, hands on hips and stomping my two-year-old foot.

Oh wait, I’m no longer two; I’m 52–and apparently still throwing temper tantrums.  I just don’t stomp my foot quite as hard because it invariably hurts my back.

I was work-weary and project-stressed and I had far too much to do when it was suggested last weekend that I take a nap.

But I did it anyway.

What if I miss something?

As a child, my parents used to tease me that I didn’t want to go to sleep because I was afraid I’d miss something.  I think that is still the case.  Something could happen, something important, that might need my attention while I’m frittering away my time in, heaven forbid, napping.

Somewhere along the line I believe I turned my perceived negativity around napping into a self judgment.  For me, taking a nap tarnishes my work ethic; it causes me to think I’m sloughing off on my work.

I have noticed that as I get busier in my self-employed world, I’m having trouble putting down the pen and shutting off the electronics because “I don’t want to miss anything.”

My God, it’s a wonder I ever sleep with that mindset.  Once again, I’ve managed to make everything about me!  Please tell me I’m not the only one!

Practicing good self-care

Sometimes, after several nights in a row with very little sleep, as I’m stumbling and mumbling in a zombie-like state, I catch myself going round in circles.

When that happened recently, I thought, okay, FINE, I’ll take a nap.

Then it hit me–and I really felt this truth–I have to find a way to release myself from my own pressure cooker.

So I took a nap. Tucked under my blanket, I took a few deep, long breaths and tried to exhale the built-up steam of my projects.  Then I fell asleep, mercifully.

Nearly two hours later, I woke feeling refreshed, more open (when I’m super-tired I tend to draw into myself) and lighter.  I could definitely feel a weight change in my sternum.

Looking back on that feeling–both pre-nap and after–I have a couple of thoughts.  First, ingrained characteristics of my childhood tend to bubble and splash to the surface when I’m stressed and exhausted.

The second thought is I can take care of both my childlike responses and my adult needs by making a decision to take a break.  It doesn’t matter how I get away so much as just doing it–and doing it mindfully.

Maybe it’s a nap; maybe it’s a walk; maybe it’s a guided meditation.  But regular breaks are invaluable.  Let’s make a pact:  I will if you will!

Here’s the bigger picture issue to address:  While it’s true that both the two-year-old me and the 52-year-old me is afraid of missing something, what might I miss if I don’t give in?

Photo courtesy of idahoeditor

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