On Being Tired

Here is a word of encouragement for anyone who is tired. For the last few days I have myself been feeling as though every effort were beyond me, so it comes from the heart. The community even has a word for this state of weariness — exhaustipation — from which you can see it is commoner than you may have imagined. Everyone experiences it from time to time. The problem is that tiredness is often associated with grumpiness and a feeling of guilt. We tell ourselves we should be doing more; and because we are angry with ourselves, we tend to lash out at our nearest and dearest. We may not say anything hurtful, but most of us are quite good at the pointed silence, the ‘hard stare’ of Paddington Bear or the selective deafness of the PBGV — endearing in them, but not so much in adult Human Beans.

The solution to the problem is actually very simple: a supernumerary nap, a quiet nodding off over a book (or even an email), a period of reflection requiring closed eyes and an absence of engagement with those around us, but with this difference. Our restorative nap needs to be ushered in with a prayer, so that even our sleep can become prayerful. I have always taken as the motto for what I call the Prayer of Gentle Drift those encouraging words from the Song of Songs, Ego dormio sed cor meum vigilat. I sleep, but my heart keeps watch (Song of Songs, 5.2). In sleep, we cannot erect any barriers to God or his will as we do when we are awake and on our guard, so that’s worth thinking about. Solomon was a wise man. Let us be wise in our generation, too.


4 thoughts on “On Being Tired”

  1. I went for one of those naps a couple of days ago. I started to feel guilty but then realised God was with me and loving me just as I am. I had a lovely rest.

  2. I have never understood why we feel guilty about being tired, it’s not like we have any real control over it. Getting 8 hours sleep does not help when you have uncontrollable stresses like sickness or lack of money disturbing that sleep. Obviously some people just cannot take time out for some shut-eye but the rest of us can usually find the time and place for 5 minutes of ZZzzz and feel much better for it.

  3. When I am continually approached by those saying, “I thought you were re-tired,” I answer, “No, I am just tired.” And there is more to my answer than meets the eye for I get tired when I am idle, when I have no deadlines to meet and when there is no urgency. So, when doing these things that don’t have to be finished today, like proof reading a new book of a friend I do drop off at any time of the day or night. When I feel it coming on I invoke God in the words with which we begin the Divine Office
    “O God, come to my aid
    O Lord, make haste to help me (Psalm 69).
    And that makes sure I sleep, but my heart keeps watch.

Comments are closed.