What could you accomplish if you had a week off? No deadlines, no Blackberry, simply 7 beautifully empty calendar squares, offering you 168 unstructured hours to do as you please. You might attempt at least one of those beautiful recipes that’s been sitting on your Pinterest board for ages. Surely you would finally fall into the natural rhythm of leaping out of bed in the morning to make a fresh green smoothie and then proceeding to enjoy days filled with meditation, yoga and a healthy dose of spin. Your to-do list would finally be emptied, as would your overflowing e-mail inboxes. And of course you would finally catch up with every single friend and loved one you’ve been meaning to visit. All you would need to be your best self, after all, is a week off.
Or…you might fall asleep. Which is exactly what I did. I slept in well past smoothie time, dozed off during Shavasana and greeted said friends and loved ones with a face full of imprints from leaning against the Amtrak window. As for the to-do list and inboxes? We won’t discuss those…Once my body wasn’t forced to stay in motion, it suddenly expressed an urgent need to stay at rest.
“Sleep is a luxury” I was once told. And I internalized that lesson. If something on my calendar had to give, it was the amount of sleep I was going to get that night…or week…or month. Sleep could wait, success could not. Once Arianna Huffington gave me permission in Thrive not to feel guilty about giving my body what it needs to function at its absolute best, my body started making it loud and clear exactly what that was.
Real rest. Not just a weekly “day of rest” that’s actually filled to the brim with religious obligations and emotionally draining encounters, or a rare spa day where I schedule a few hours of luxury rest and then rush back out into the madness of chasing achievement, but a steady state of being well-rested. A commitment to replenishing myself on a regular basis, giving my body time to repair itself and eventually waking up not because an alarm clock starts screeching into my ear, but because I don’t need any more sleep. A state of being where my body is rested and I can be fully awake.
This post was inspired by Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington who encourages everyone to sleep their way to the top. Join From Left to Write on May 1 as we discuss Thrive. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.