Dog walking.

    This week I recalled a procedure that once regulated my life. I call it “Minimum Days.” A more accurate title would be “adrenal burnout recovery days.” Lately, I’ve come to believe almost everyone needs it from time to time.

    Here are some symptoms of adrenal burnout, all of which were ragingly evident for me these past few weeks. See if they describe you, too:

    • You wake up every morning not because you’re rested, but because “it’s time.”
    • Absolutely nothing sounds interesting except sleep. If you won the lottery, it would make you want a nap.
    • People keep genially commenting, “Hi! You look like crap!”
    • You keep misplacing important things, such as your spouse and children.
    • You have no will to live.
    • Walking the dog sounds like climbing Everest.
    • All you want to eat is Boston cream pie.
    • All your Master Coaches keep telling you to REST, DAMMIT!

    Okay, that last one may be specific to me. At any rate, this weekend, after getting mild cases of yellow fever, hepatitis, typhoid, polio, and lord knows what else from the vaccination lady here at Phoenix Travel Health (I believe this woman won the 2010 Most Pessimistic Person On God’s Green Earth Award), I went to sleep for almost three straight days. I got up only to eat Boston cream pie and whine intermittently.

    This is what I mean by a Minimum Day—a day when you do virtually nothing but rest—and I do believe mine just pulled me back from the brink of exhaustion. These days, life is like a treadmill that’s lost its regulator and just speeds up, minute by minute. When things get too crazy, just jump off. Sleep and then sleep some more.

    It took three Minimum Days to get me back to something like normalcy. It may take you one day, or five, or ten. This may feel exorbitant to you-mine did to me. But in my mind and heart (though not my driven ego) I believe humans were to sleep when it’s dark, to watch the wind in the leaves, to nap in the heat of the day. We long ago lost this natural pattern. Minimum Days help take back a bit of what we forfeited by becoming work- and clock-obsessed. I’ve been preaching about them forever. Now, having practiced them, I’m urging you all over again: go to sleep. Have some pie. Then go to sleep again. I’ll see you when your will to live returns.