Let’s face it, being alive is hectic. Even back in 1523, when John Fitzherbert listed in The Book of Husbandry all the chores expected of a wife, on top of raising the children and helping her husband in his profession. We’re all hard-pressed to find any free time. If you did, you find something else to get on with, in the shape of more chores or shoehorning all the things you actually want to do but never have time for. Life becomes one very long to-do list.
Where we differ from our ancestors is we ignore the circadian rhythms with our artificial lighting extinguishing the stars and harming the wildlife because they don’t know what time of day it is either. Back in Fitzherbet’s time, candles were a luxury and lights after dark were minimal. Think of poor Clym in Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native, who nearly blinded himself by too much studying indoors in poor light.
Seeds often need a cold, dark winter to help them germinate in the spring. Farmers leave the land to fallow, allowing fertility to return to the soil. Animals sleep. Some even hibernate. Humans have created a culture for themselves where rest and getting quality sleep are selfish. We sit outside the natural rhythm of the sun and moon, working all hours and wondering why we are so chronically tired.
Good quality sleep is crucial for our mental and physical health. I was tired yesterday. My body had been prodding my brain for the previous few days, but no, my brain was thinking of all the stuff I needed to get done. So my body played one of its best cards; it gave me a headache. The sort that spears into my eye socket and leaves me given no other option but to sleep it off.
I tried to muster on. I take painkillers and try stretching out my neck and shoulders. Neither worked, so I sat down, frustrated I was feeling so crap. Then I promptly fell asleep and woke up a few hours later feeling so much better.
This week reminded me I should not ignore my body when it wants to rest. Rarely is there anything on my to-do list that will need my immediate attention. I can delegate. Nothing bad will happen if I take thirty minutes or an hour out of my day to do nothing. I shouldn’t try to fit my chores and the creative activities I want to be doing into my day at a detriment to my physical and mental wellbeing. My WIP will still be there to tackle tomorrow.