I believe in naps.
In fact, last week I was fifteen minutes late for a podcast taping with the brilliant woman photographed above (check out her new Substack), Isabella Di Stefano, because I was…yes, napping. I needed it! 🤷🏻♀️
That sounds like something only a lady of leisure can say, but in fact, I was napping at the office at the height my busy-ness.
I never noticed that. Did you?
I don’t know about you, but back in the day, my life revolved around my work. I didn’t really have work/life balance, but I also didn’t even know to crave it. The internet was in its nascent stages so there wasn’t a large platform to really hear anyone else’s stories or voices. Teens were writing on platforms like LiveJournal, but I assure you there weren’t any executives pining for more downtime anywhere online (or otherwise). On the plus side, the magazine industry was bananas amazing back then, and for the most part I couldn’t get enough of it. Which was good I guess 😬 because I was at the office all the time or at one event or another (for which I would get ready at the office) and would basically come home to sleep. 😴
At one point during the launch of CosmoGIRL!, my friend, the world-renowned psychic, Terry Iacuzzo, told me that I needed to start getting regular massages every week. I remember looking at her like she was nuts. Prior to that I may have gotten two or MAX three massages…and always because I’d been given a gift certificate. But she was adamant: You are asking so much of your body. You need to take in rest. You need to give it good stuff. This is not a luxury. This is a necessity.
I started getting weekly massages.
I really liked that feeling of peace when my body was at ease. I simply operated better.
That gave me an idea.
I carved out an untouchable two-hour block in the middle of my day. I don’t think I told my beloved assistant I was napping (Did I, Char?) and truthfully I wasn’t usually napping. There was just too much energy at the office to do that on the regular. My intention was to take my shoes off, kick back on my couch, stretch like a cat, read, doze and talk to whoever I wanted to…or not talk at all during that period of time.
Although I didn’t have the words for it then, I was trying to regulate my nervous system as a counter stretch to the fast paced craziness of the magazine industry.
This experiment didn’t last too long. It was a brief moment in time. Even though I scheduled the time block, I suffered from Rest Shame and trying to do it at the office in the middle of all the intensity just felt untenable. When I got to Seventeen a few years later, I tried a different iteration of this plan that was much more successful. I’d work the first half of the day from home in a quiet and peaceful state with my two fluffy kitties (Thurston & Lovey) purring next to me on my desk and then come in after lunch, armored and ready for action. But again, I felt it all needed to be on the DL. Remember, this is a few years before Sheryl Sandberg famously told women to Lean In and put the pedal to the metal…and here I was trying to figure out how to consciously Lean OUT.
I am a shameless napper. I believe in the power of rest.
I can imagine people reading this and saying, “Must be nice” eyeroll emoji. 🙄
And yes. It is nice.
And that’s okay. We deserve to feel good feelings.
We are the Editors-in-Chief of our own lives. We can make life easeful. Or we can go with the tempo of the machine world that we’re surrounded by in pursuit of…what exactly?
In my 20s and 30s, I drove myself so hard. I realize today that so much of what drove me to work non-stop related to the incorrect perception that my value came from my output. Almost as though I was a “thing.” Like if you’re buying an appliance, the one with more bells and whistles is more expensive, right? It has more value. I was valuing myself this same way.
That’s probably from messaging I got at home, but frankly, it’s fairly standard messaging in our culture. You get good grades; you get good feedback; you (briefly) feel good feelings. Then we go back to searching for another achievement to get good feedback so we can once again briefly feel good feelings.
I’d like to disrupt that model and tell you that those good feelings are already sitting there right inside of us. But they are inaccessible to us when we’re stuck on the hamster wheel of looking outside ourselves for validation. Looking outside can look like finding self-worth through your career, like me. It can look like using a substance to simulate peace for the span of time it’s active in your body.
But here’s a little starter kit for what has worked for me. (Even if the world around me is on fire…especially then!):
Rest when I need it. (Hint: You need it every day) It’s a form of self-love. Imagine you’re a child whose running themselves ragged, be it emotionally or physically. You need to be the loving parent that says to yourself, it’s time to rest now. It’s one of the hidden gifts of this new era of WFH. Instead of scrolling on IG for an hour over the course of the day, block an hour, turn your phone off and see how you feel. And I am an advocate of rescheduling meetings when you’re fried so you can nap instead. If you got hit by a car, the meeting would be rescheduled or take place without you. And the YOU that shows up well rested and feeling peaceful, frankly, is more creative and additive to your meeting. And btw - most people have the time, we just squander it on meaningless scrolling that makes us feel worse.
Daily Meditation. I will never shut up about this. Teaching your brain to stop crunching for a short period of time every day is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. This is the equivalent of brushing your teeth for your emotional life. You can’t have good oral hygiene without brushing your teeth and you can’t have good mental hygiene without meditating. Sorry. I believe this 100 percent. Try starting with this.
I wish I had known to meditate during those periods of experimentation when I was knee deep in the busy-ness world of business, but I was learning and playing with different forms of rest. On the plus side, today I don’t feel guilty for wanting to feel happy, peaceful and free and doing what it requires to get there. If you look at the screentime app on your phone, you’ll see you have the time for this, too. Meet me here. It sure beats non-stop stress and anxiety. (And trust me, there are still plenty of opportunities to visit those zones!) 🤪🤪🤪
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