Hiding under the covers is something that I regularly prescribe and encourage. It is a mental health day, a restoration day to be used in when feeling burned out, fighting a lot of colds, having a lot of headaches or feeling moderately depressed and don't know why. I am writing this blog before Christmas and it is my experience that the month of December is very stressful. Many people start to twitch in December.
I am sharing an excerpt taken from Jennifer Louden’s book The Woman's Comfort Book. This is a guide self nurturing and restoring balance in your life. There was a time when this book stayed by my side. Fatigue often means we can't come up with ideas as how to care for ourselves, and this is a great resource. She has also written The Couples Comfort Book which is a resource for couples.
What is it?
Hiding under the covers is a planned retreat, a healthy way to care for yourself. Give yourself permission to stay in bed or on the couch for a day and do whatever you like. That may be sleeping, eating, reading, watching old black and white movies or a combination of these. This may sound indulgent but it isn't!
Hiding under the covers is a variation of playing sick. Remember when you were a child and you would stay home from school, sick enough not to feel guilty, but not so sick you couldn't enjoy the food your mom prepared or watching 'Leave it to Beaver'. This is the warm, safe feeling you need to recreate.
Allowing yourself to retreat gives you the critical time you need to reflect on your life and balance yourself. By taking time for yourself in such a lavish way, you are saying to your mind and body 'I deserve the same amount of love and care I give to others.'
Your bed or couch.
Fluffy blankets and lots of pillows
Snack food, books, magazines. Whatever fun and silly things make you feel good.
When to do it:
when you are so burned out you can barely keep going.
When you keep saying to yourself "I'll just power through this," or "if I just keep my feet moving," or " Once I'm finished with this project, I can rest."
When you have been fighting a cold or have been having a lot of headaches.
When you have been feeling moderately depressed and don't know why.
When you never allow yourself to just lie around and relax.
What to do:
The key to getting comfortable with hiding under the covers is to give yourself permission to take time off and crawl into bed without berating yourself. A good way to do that is to turn off your annoying inner critic. The inner critic may say things like, "You can't do this, people are depending on you." "Sleeping, in the middle of the day? What will you sink to next?" "What a wimp, in my day..."
Gently tell yourself with your nurturing voice that by taking a day off and allowing yourself to be blue or tired you are performing a very important duty. You will be better to others, more effective at your job and a more enjoyable person to live with if you take time out.
Arrange your Hiding Space
Make the space where you plan to spend the day as comfortable as possible. That may mean blobbing out on the cough, under a heap of cuddly blankets. Or hide your partner's dirty socks, make the bed with clean sheets and stock your bedside table with hot cinnamon tea and sourdough toast (or gluten free toast!). Whatever appeals to you.
Screen your calls
Turn on your answering machine or unplug the phone. Talk only to people who help you feel better. Avoid all unnurturing people.
Scent the Room
Hide a couple of scented sachets between the blankets.
Open the windows and let in fresh air.
Put a freesia or rose in a vase on your nightstand.
Immerse yourself in a good or distracting novel. Browse in a bookstore and stock up on a few titles or tuck away for your next day off.
Create a tray of food to have in bed. Consider an attractive place mat and your pretty dishes. Try a bowl of grapes, some chocolate, whoever your body craves.
Watching television on your hiding time can be good or it can be bad. Long hours infront of daytime TV can end up making you feel more tired and stressed than before. But if you never get to watch daytime TV, maybe this is just what you need.
Get into the habit of having old movies on hand to watch on these mental health days. Renting a familiar film can be very comforting. Suggestions can be...Field of Dreams, The Women, any movie with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey, Princess Bride, etc.
Again and Again
Practice makes perfect. Take a hiding out day to see what you need to feel refreshed and renewed. Follow your desires. Indulge yourself.
A whole day isn't necessary, though it is nice. An hour or two on a Saturday morning, leaving work early, skipping a dinner party you didn't want to go to...the options are endless.