A black and white illustration of a woman curled up in bed with a blanket covering her.
Prompted

Reconciling Wasted Days

Artwork by Shae Maree Nicholson.

Wasted days are those days where you can’t get out of bed, where you struggle to get anything done in the day that doesn’t involve Netflix and a mound of blankets. We all have them. Typically, on these days you have a to-do list that you need to complete. It’s not necessarily urgent, but a list nonetheless. Maybe the pile of washing in your room, or that chapter in your textbook that you need to read, or the multiple assignments you should be starting. Whatever it is, it’s there. That list of things can eat away at you. It reminds you that you need to be doing something, even when your body is telling you that you are not capable of anything. You’re exhausted.

It’s easy to feel guilty. Sometimes, the feeling of guilt makes the blankets feel heavier and your body feel weaker – until the guilt is the one making you stay in bed. I used to call these ‘wasted days’. I called them wasted days because the guilt reminds me of all the things I could have achieved if I’d just gotten out of bed. Even if I manage to do something later that day, I feel regret for not doing more. I’ve tried to stop calling these days wasted. It’s difficult, and even as I’m writing this article, I can count a day this week that feels wasted. It doesn’t matter to me when I feel guilty if I’ve had a successful week. For me, last week was very successful: I did four assessment pieces and a first aid course, plus I worked at least two days. Yet the fact that I didn’t get out of bed until five in the afternoon on Saturday weighs heavily on me. I keep thinking about how I should start another one of my assignments, or read the book I need to for class, or the million other things that I need to do this month. But I needed that day. I needed to let my body rest. I would not get angry at my phone for not receiving a call when it has run out of battery, and I will not get angry at myself for resting.

It’s difficult because our society doesn’t regard sleeping all day and watching Netflix all night as helpful, productive or necessary activities. But let me tell you some things that I did achieve on Saturday. I got eight hours of completely unbroken sleep. I got to cuddle my cats and enjoy their presence. I got to relax my muscles and stretch. I got to watch the entirety of a TV series that has been on my list for months. Most of the time those things are unachievable for me. I scarcely get five hours of unbroken sleep because I wake at three convinced that I am running late for my nine-am meeting, or that I am unprepared for the day ahead. I rarely get to enjoy my cats because I’m always pushing them away when I need to get assignments done, or I’m angry when they want attention because I am focusing mine on ‘more important things’. I do not get to relax or stretch because it’s very much non-stop from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed. And watching TV, yeah, I do so frequently but it’s always in the background while writing an assignment or while I’m falling asleep. Yet these moments of enjoyment are never at the top of my to-do list for Saturday, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need them. Sunday was a struggle as well, but I was able to finish more assessment and do the online component of my first aid, and I wouldn’t have been able to manage that if I had pushed myself on Saturday.

So, I’m re-evaluating the term ‘Wasted Days’. I am not wasting my days. These are recovery days, rest days, recharge days, or whatever you want to call them. They are necessary. We do not lose anything in these days that we can’t regain later but, we cannot regain rest when we are already overdue.