Close Your Eyes

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A picture of me laying on a green velvet couch. The image is fuzzy, with sunbeams coming in through the windows.

I'm not going to pretend I'm anything but tired this week.

It's hard to say why. It could be my thyroid hormones going out of sync. It could be that I stayed up too late watching the last episodes of The Stand. (God, why?) It could be that it's been almost a year of a pandemic and being normal takes more effort than it used to.

The why doesn't really matter. It is what it is.

Meanwhile, my to-do list keeps growing. There are emails I want to respond to. Texts I want to send. Articles to finish. Ideas to jot down. There's this very post that I assigned to myself to write on Monday.

I told myself today I had to go to my studio so I could get some work done without interruptions. When I arrived, I switched out the water in my flower vase. I wiped down a shelf that looked dusty. And then I sat down at my desk and froze.

I said to myself: I'm so exhausted. And blinked at the screen.

The thing about my desk is that it looks directly across the room at a couch – a big, soft, plush velvet couch. On a whim, I took myself over to that couch, stretched myself out, and shut my eyes.

I didn't fall asleep. I listened to the whoosh of cars passing in either direction outside my window. I felt the setting sun's warmth pour through the window and settle on my cheeks. I took one slow breath after another. I let my mind wander.

I stayed like that for 15-20 minutes at most. And in the space I'd created by closing my eyes and staying still I came up with something to write about: the moment itself. And here I am 10 minutes later, with one less item on my to-do list today.

I know so many of us are conditioned to push through our exhaustion, our worries, our needs. But if we don't rest when we need to rest, our bodies stop cooperating with even our very best intentions. When mine has reached its limit, it doesn't care that I made an arbitrary deadline for myself. It doesn't care that I have 30 tabs open to read. It doesn't care that I'm worried that if I don't respond to a text that someone will think I don't care about them – or start to not care about me.

It cares for what it needs, which is for me to give it a break. And sometimes, like today, it rewards me when I honor its request.

Activity

Feeling exhausted? Overwhelmed? Worried?

  • Find yourself somewhere soft to lay down – a bed, a couch, a rug – and lay the hell down.
  • Close your eyes and check in with your other senses: What are you hearing? Smelling? Feeling in your body?
  • Ask your mind where it would like to wander. Follow it.
  • Trust yourself to know when you're ready to get back up. Thank yourself for taking the pause.