A few weeks back there was an interesting conversation going on in one of the groups that I belong to.
We were discussing our business goals for the forthcoming weeks when, rather quickly, the conversation turned to most people confessing that they what they really needed was some time off. Away from the grind, away from the hustle, the wins but also the disappointments.
It turned out that for all of us working for ourselves, taking time off is something that we heard of, but haven’t experienced in a while. Sometimes, in a very long while.
It seems that we are always on the go because building and growing a business requires us to be CEOs, CFOs, Graphic Designers, Content Strategists, Models, Leaders, our clients’ rocks. We feel guilty when, God forbid, we think about stepping away from our businesses to do something for ourselves. Just for our pleasure. Something that we might even think is selfish!! 🤷♀️
And yet, stress and lack of sleep go hand in hand to make entrepreneurs’ lives miserable.
It’s hard to stay focused on the tasks at hand and be efficient when your batteries are perpetually drained.
It becomes a vicious circle: you are stressed over something you want to deliver to your clients, so your monkey brain won’t let you sleep, you get up even more stressed because you spent all night stressing over the fact that you couldn’t sleep.
What can you do to turn the vicious circle into a virtuous circle?
Well… I am glad you asked… ?
First of all, you need to start planning out your days to include both rest and “me time” and then commit to following your plan without fail or excuses. Seriously.
Take a look at your average week or day. Start by scheduling your rest (sleep) and then your “me time”: these are your priorities, they are an investment in yourself so you’re always in top form. Once these are in place take a look at your non-negotiables like work and family commitment. Add them to your schedule.
By the way, I include taking care of your fitness in “me time” so, workouts, walking and so on.
When you plan your schedule this way, you give yourself permission to be the first person you take care of.
Women are suckers for taking care of everyone else before themselves and it’s time we took that power back. Remember the analogy with the airplane: put your own oxygen mask first, then help someone else. Apply it.
The added bonus with scheduling everything, even if it’s only for a week or two, is that it will free up your cognitive resources to deal with the most important tasks so you don’t have to keep trying and remember what you need to do next. And get frustrated (stressed) when you don’t.
It will also allow you to react quickly to unforeseen events. This is huge, because you’ll have the bandwidth to tackle even the most unsettling of situations without stressing over all the other things that you should be doing instead, because they’ve already been dealt with.
It’s a bit like being told what to do and when, except the boss is still you and you won’t argue back.
Well, at least I hope not. ?
If your sleep is really crap or if you find yourself completely exhausted halfway through your day, you need to take napping into consideration. In fact, you must.
Taking a nap is an art.
Actually, it isn’t.
It’s how humans are designed to sleep.
Except we don’t do it anymore because modernity killed our natural habits.
In the ‘70s, when I was growing up in Milan, the working hours almost everywhere in Italy included a 3-4 hour lunch break to allow people to have a proper meal and some rest in the middle of the day.
It’s what the Spanish call a Siesta, and what the Italians call a pisolino o pennichella depending on whether you are North or South. In English speaking countries is called “taking a nap”.
Regardless of what you call it, it’s a break dedicated to catching up on your sleep. Or, rather to top up your sleep.
Tribes that are still living relatively unaffected by the Western lifestyle, still follow this sleeping pattern: they have their longer sleep starting within 2-3 hours of sundown, wake up just after dawn and then have a 2 hrs nap in the middle of the day when the Sun is at its highest point.
Sadly, we lost the habit of doing this and it’s a shame because taking a nap would help us reduce our stress burden and prevent us from becoming ill. Having just survived a pandemic, I think this is something that we all must remember if we want to increase our resilience to future mutations of Covid.
The science of taking a nap
A study carried out in 2015 set out to investigate how stress and our immune system were affected by both sleep deprivation and napping.
Participants in the study were allowed to sleep for only 2 hours, after which their stress levels were measured.
As expected, after severe restrictions to the participants’ sleep, their stress levels were 2.5x higher than their control counterparts. Their immune system was also negatively affected making them vulnerable to illnesses and infections.
However, after only a 30 minute nap their stress hormones were completely reset.
That’s immense if you think about it.
We could all make serious improvements to our health if we could only take 30 minutes out of our day to taking a nap when we are tired.
You know, if you are on a fitness journey, stress is truly your enemy: because it causes you to gain fat, but it also causes you to lose muscle while simultaneously experiencing crazy cravings as you ride an emotional rollercoaster.
When you are busy chasing the latest fitness or nutritional fad, sleep is often overlooked as one of your best tools for fatloss. Hell, sleep is your best detox and the one thing that you desperately need to stay alive.
So, if you want to get that hourglass figure back, it’s time to get those naps into your schedule!
If you want a handy tool for planning your next fitness journey why not check out my Super Simple Fitness Planner that you can order straight from Lulu.com?
If you don’t want to wait for the paperback to arrive, you can always download the e-book version and start planning right away.