December 18, 2020
The darkness in the northern hemisphere deepens for just a few more days before we turn the astronomical corner toward spring. I am still doing my best to soak up the pieces of quiet that this time of year offers. I even scheduled myself a few days away from the family for a short staycation, and I am pumped to sleep a solid night's sleep.
My youngest kid was sick recently, and we had one night of NO sleep. The next day I was a wreck- not the kind of wreck where you're tired and need a nap, but the kind of wreck where I felt like I was teetering on the brink of depression and also couldn't stop yelling at my kids.
Sleep, food, water.
Rest. Nutrition. Hydration.
Food and water can have big impacts on our emotional wellbeing- just ask anyone who gets hangry or a kid who didn't drink water all afternoon. But they're also pieces that are fairly quick and easy to remedy.
Sleep, on the other hand, can be pushed aside for weeks, months, even years. We often think we can skimp sleep to work more, using those short, sweet hours after the kids go to bed. Or we live the double life of the working parent- up during the night with the baby, then getting ready for work at 7am.
Rest, it's what your ancestors ordered
According to Dr. Oscar Serralach, the author of "The Postnatal Depletion Cure," hunter gatherer societies spent more time resting than they did procuring food and tending to their home spaces.
How much time do you spend resting? Truly resting, without your phone in your hand?
We could delve into a deep conversation around how our post-industrial society works us to the bone. We could talk about how capitalism doesn't value the human, but values the product of that human's life. We could philosophize on the way patriarchy, with its hyper masculine model, doesn't support any human, but especially those who menstruate and birth.
But let's leave it short and sweet: REST IS CRITICAL for your mental/emotional health.
Sleep is also when our liver detoxes, which impacts the cleanliness of our blood. Sleep is when proper immune and digestive responses occur. Sleep and rest are when we integrate what we've learned or experienced throughout the waking hours. Sleep and rest are when cellular repair and hormone production happen.
Sleep and rest are when some of our most important biological functions happen.
Rest is also a practice, and I invite you to practice it in its many forms. You will not always be perfect at it. It might feel difficult. And, it might not always be the right medicine for what's facing you. But be curious about your energetic boundaries and practice respecting them, an especially important practice during the holiday season.
Depression and Freeze
I'll speak more to this in an upcoming newsletter, but for now I want you to know that what we name depression is generally the manifestation of a physiological freeze response (and anxiety a physiological flight response). I also want you to know that overriding that freeze is not the same as coming out of it.
So when you wake up feeling out of sorts after a crappy night's sleep, it's important to understand the impact rest can have on your nervous system, and to prioritize rest - physical, emotional, and social.
More next week on freeze, depression, and override.