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Don’t Take That Afternoon “Nap”

A Quick Thought…

When you are blessed to have a job in which you are surrounded by bed-like surfaces, it is very inviting to take an afternoon nap…. but I never do!

What I do instead, especially on a (lunch) break between patients, is take an afternoon lie-down. I close my eyes, calm my breathing, become mindful of my body and surroundings, and rest. If I happen to fall asleep, that is an additional benefit.

I remember back to being in university when I would mentally set aside 20 minutes between studying subjects to “nap”. I would lay down with the expectation of falling asleep immediately and waking up feeling instantly rejuvenated. My intent is to lay down, fall asleep immediately, and wake up rejuvenated – the result is often the opposite;

1 minute goes by and you are still laying there with your mind between the meeting you just had and the one coming up…. no problem you just laid down

3 minutes pass and you are starting to get annoyed; “I have to wake up in 17 minutes brain, so please relax and go to bed”

6:54 seconds elapse and you are more awake, filled with anxiety, and rage than before. All you wanted to do was F$%#ing nap and now your break is almost over

12 minutes pass….. “Oh I can Never take a nap! What a waste of time!…… oh I will just get a coffee” 

Listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast this morning  and hearing about his routines, he perfectly summarized this experience of not being able to nap because of being focused too much on the outcome of falling asleep. It struck me that like most of our goals, we have little control over the outcome but have complete control over the process. If your process is good, success is all but guaranteed.

If you intent is only to lay down and fall asleep, it is obvious, and anxiety producing when we realize this is not going to happen.

When my intent is just to lay dow, put my ear plugs in, rest, be warm, comfortable and clear my mind, I am going to be successful at that 100% of the time. It also turns out that I fall asleep 90% of the time when I do this, and about 20% of the time when my intent is to nap. If your expectation is to fall asleep and you do not, it will seem like a failure. If your expectation is to just lay down and rest, you will always be successful; sometimes low expectations are the key to happiness.

Taking 20 minutes to be mindful and rest on a consistent basis will make all the difference to your wellness, productivity and creativity. Whether it is under the sun on a patch of grass, propped up in your office chair, or lying comfy on the floor, just lay down, relax and close your eyes.

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