I know humans aren’t considered hibernators, but I think I might be one. When the light darkens because of the dreaded daylight savings time, my body decides if there is less light there will be less work. I feel a pull to the comfy covers of my bed and I don’t want to come out until spring. For me, cozy is in and cold is out. I rarely desire to leave the coziness of my home. I do of course, I work and I play out in the cold, but once I have come inside from the chill I want a hot bath, a warm fire, and a good book. I put on my thick slipper socks, a sweat shirt, shrink down under a quilt on the couch and curl up in a ball. I nap. I drink hot cider. I nap some more.
This past week I slept most of my days away, thanks to the flu. Flu knocks me out. Woke at 9:30 am had some hot liquid. Napped from noon till 3. Did computer work for a while, then had ‘sick’ soup for dinner. (sick soup is powdered chicken soup with noodles…kind of like ramen…Mom used to make it whenever we were sick as kids, along with saltines and ginger ale.) An after-dinner nap allowed me to make it to my 10:00 bedtime. I was exhausted from sleeping so much!
But, I allowed myself these hours and hours of sleep because I learned an important lesson back in my cancer days. Sleep heals. No joke. I had always heard how important sleep is for your body and in my 20s I thought that was ridiculous. However, now in my late 50s I have changed my mind about sleep. It is my friend.
When I was healing from cancer, I paid attention to my body, something I had never done before. When I ached, deep inside my abdomen, it meant it was nap time. I could have pushed on despite the pain, but the pain was a signal. Imagine that! Our bodies give us signals when they need rest! But like most other things, we ignore the warnings and push past them. Until our bodies say, “No More!” and put us to bed. One way or another we will be bedridden. Our choice as to when.
When I ached, I would stop everything and nap. When I woke, the pain in my gut was gone and I would feel like a new woman. Making time for my body signals wasn’t as hard when I had cancer because, well…I had CANCER! You do everything thing you can to help healing when you have cancer. You just tell everyone I am going to lie down and rest for a bit, and everyone encourages you to do so because…you have cancer!
When you only have a cold, not so much. You push on through. When you have a headache, or are irritable, you ignore the signs. There is so much to do that we forget to listen. The voices in our heads demand action, constantly. Otherwise, who will do all the things?! My question is, who will do all the things if you die of cancer…or a heart attack…or a stroke…while trying to do all the things? Kind of a morbid thought, I know, but it’s a serious question. If you don’t put your health first who will? No one. You are your own advocate.
The holidays are here. The “things” are piling up around us. All the to do lists. All the parties. All the guests. All the food. All the decorating. My blood pressure goes up as I write this list! I can feel the stress of it seeping into my body as I type. Yet, I love the holidays! It’s my favorite time of the year! No, I cannot cancel the holidays, nor would I want to…but I can make a promise to listen to my body. And maybe take a few things off the list or simplify my expectations. It wouldn’t hurt.
I think this hibernation thing could be a reset for me. Eat whatever I want for three months, then sleep for three months. Not just any sleep, a deep energy conserving, body healing sleep. Wake up refreshed and skinny! Ready to meet the new life arriving all around me. Probably not too realistic, but a girl can dream!
(Disclaimer- Hibernation and depression are two different things. Depression is on the rise during the holidays. Wanting to sleep for rest and renewal is different than never wanting to get out of bed. Please, take it seriously if your sleep is actually draining you of life and not refreshing it. A professional counselor can help determine the difference if you are unclear.)