Bears. Wood Frogs. Snakes. Gila monsters. Snails. Turtles. Hummingbirds. The infamous Groundhog. Bees (potentially). Bats. Skunks. LadyBugs. And now, Shelby. Are all creatures that hibernate.
In the dictionary when referring to humans, hibernation means “to remain inactive or indoors for an extended period.” And according to the groundhog on Groundhog’s day (2020), we have six more weeks of winter. Therefore we have enough time to incorporate a space for restful winter routine.
Now, before we start, if you’ve read any of the articles on Shalom & Polepole, specifically "Cozy Book Chat: Blue Zones" and "The Siesta Mentality," you know that rest is a portion of a lifestyle aligned with longevity and peace. Rest coupled with nutritious meals, time spent with loved ones, natural movement, faith, intergenerational relationships, and the outdoors can help increase happiness and years.
Therefore a peaceful rhythm can flow like: a reviving routine in the morning, GRIND*, midday rest, GRIND, and a hygge nighttime habit. The hours, the time blocks, and the means of work/break are all based on your own circadian rhythm.
*grind - challenging and invigorating work/tasks
MY PRIDE IS ANTI-BREAK
Here’s the deal: longer midday breaks are not my specialty. Before being intentional about taking a long midday break, I’ve had far too much pride to take longer than a consistent 20-minute break. In my personal journey, I’ve straddled with two dominant thoughts when it comes to practicing a break: what will people think, and I can control the outcome. Each, for me, rooted in pride.
What will people think: I never had to be the office workaholic. I didn’t even need to turn in the best work all the time. But I never wanted to be…correction...I never wanted to be viewed as the office “slacker.” For me, taking a break when everyone was working (even if my work was finished, my best was given or I simply needed a longer lunch) was a no-no. Image matters a lot to me. Far more than it should. In fact, in moments when I've needed a midday break - image mattered more than my mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Control the outcome: This is self-explanatory. The mere idea that I can work hard enough to control my job security, my image, someone else’s thoughts/opinions, or ANYTHING in life…is silly. But it doesn't stop us from running like precious hamsters on a wheel - using all of our natural abilities in relationships, jobs, school projects, whatever. And sometimes, we can manipulate the outcome that we desire, which is just enough to keep us in the power game. But then there are times when our efforts aren't sufficient to secure the friendship, sustain the romance, keep the dream job, get the bonus, win the prize, [fill in the blank].
I'm not suggesting throw up your hands, give minimal effort and settle for being mediocre in life. Excellence is throughout the Bible - it instructs us to be excellent and provides examples of excellence (at work, in tasks, in life, in faith, and in love). But one of my favorite verses is, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23). That changes the "why." This verse displaces the pride, the false narrative, the sense of security attached to our efforts.
The truth is, hard work is an aspect of life that most centenarians share. But within healthy and happy communities - one’s hard work affects everyone. Folks work hard to better the life or lighten the load of others. There is a humility in working in excellence with other’s circumstances in mind, regardless of the task. In my experience, when I zone out from my own me-centered thinking, I find that taking a long midday break simply makes sense. Breaks provide a space for me to pour back into myself all that I’ve emptied out earlier that day. And once I’ve poured into myself, I can be more creative in my work, continue to keep a nice pace (without a 3/4 pm burnout), and I can give grace and be kind to those around me. This, though, is harder for me than I'd like to admit - it’s a continual renewal of my heart and mind. It’s a consistent prayer to check my motives and my pride.
And so while I try to re-negotiate and create space for myself to take midday breaks, I often reflect on the ways that I’ve seen and experienced breaks done well.
In the next article, I will share examples of breaks done well. Additionally, to close out this series, God willing, next week, I will share a video highlighting a week of my winter midday breaks. My intention is to show a diverse range of step-backs; the last thing any of us need is another space for assimilation or another “to-do” on our lists. Your break should be a domain to get what you NEED to be whole every day. I cannot encourage you enough to take an example from our siesta-brothers/sisters or even from the hibernating animals - design a period in your daily life to rest. Rest your mind, your body, and being.