I have a dirty secret.
I take a 20-minute power nap every day.
Let me explain. I’ve spent my entire life working in typical office environments. All of them your usual “9-5” and yet never really 9-5. All of them “flexible” and yet not really flexible.
After I got married and had kids, when “work-life balance” (this is not a concept I believe in, by the way) became a trend, I made a decision that I would exercise every day, because that seemed “acceptable”, and it was important for my mental health.
What do I mean by acceptable? I could stomach telling a colleague that I was stepping away for a walk or to Peloton, but I would almost always do it while attending a meeting or listening to a training. It felt acceptable because I got in my workout AND I was working at the same time. But I wasn’t really present for either because my attention was divided. And I often felt guilty knowing that others likely couldn’t make the same choice. Yet, that power-hour allowed me to show up as a better employee, mom, wife and friend.
I also knew that I would encounter a 2pm slump every day. From 2pm onwards, I was fighting to stay awake during afternoon meetings, usually needing something sugary to keep me going, and my days always ended with a headache. I even equated my end-of-day headache to a “productive” day at work. HA!
Since leaving the corporate world, I’ve been rewriting the script on what my working day looks like. One of the most interesting revelations is that I do not work at my best from “9-5”. Harvard Business Review agrees that very few do! And yet, we’re conditioned and expected to work this way.
While yes, my afternoon power nap might be a luxury of being a solopreneur, it is also the result of a recent journey in self-empowerment. And one of the benefits is that my calendar doesn’t dictate my days anymore. I do.
Here’s what else I’ve learned about myself along this journey, so far:
1) I function best when I exercise first thing in the morning. I’m clear-headed, focused, and often end up in my best creative headspace without trying. It also means I eat better, sleep better and feel strong and confident.
2) I take a 20-minute power nap almost every day, somewhere around 2 or 3pm. WITHOUT GUILT. Why? It’s like a shot of espresso. It’s quick, it’s refreshing and I’m ready to rock all afternoon without any of the sluggishness I had in the before-times.
3) I enjoy working at night after my kids go to bed and it’s quiet. I love what I do so much that I have to remind myself that sleep is also important (working on this one!), but my creative-visionary side is active around 9pm, so I ride that wave!
4) I have no guilt anymore – and far fewer headaches. Showing up for my family, my friends and my clients drives me. I do this best when I’m able to show up for myself first.
So, if you’re wondering why my face looks a little smushed on an afternoon call, now you know my dirty little secret.
How can you listen to what your body needs and honor it?
How can you empower yourself (and model for others!) to revisit the “9-5” expectation if that’s not what works best for you?
If you’re a leader (and you ARE!), it starts with you.
What are your (appropriate!) dirty little secrets that contribute to your well-being and how can you share them to empower yourself and others?
If you share them with me, I will anonymously share them with others so that we can continue to normalize self-care.