You ever think that there is no time at all for anything? Why do we live in such pressure cooker lives here in the U. S.? Our rate of heart disease, the percentage of senior citizens on required medicines, is surely greater than in countries where they relax with a siesta. We put in 40+ hours a week at a job and also at home caring for family (if not retired), so it’s difficult to make time for any relaxation.

In Italy (Great Amer. Idea), China, many Mediterranean countries, and Hispanic countries, they make TIME TO RELAX. In Italy, which I’ve visited, there are a few hours in the afternoon for riposo or rest. The shops close, people go home and have a relaxing middle of the day meal and rest, even take a nap. They don’t have much of a breakfast (like coffee and a pastry), so this midday meal is bigger and no doubt eaten gradually, slowly, and savored. Italians are traditionally not into fast food, but are more a part of the “slow food” movement for their emphasis on relaxed eating, though the big cities like Rome may have McDonald’s or something called The Chicken Hut.

The riposo time is usually anywhere from 1:30 to 4:30, over a 90 minute or  two hour period. So they eat lunch and dinner later than we do here — I remember being taken to a restaurant and waiting for calamari, and it was eight at night! I suppose this cuts down on eating desserts, so maybe it’s a good thing to have a solid meal in Italy later in the day, to relax and enjoy.

Even school children have to eat later in the day with this schedule in Italy, which seems saner. They go to school from 8/8:30 AM and study/learn for five hours. Then they go home to eat.  My husband worked in a U. S. elementary where they had lunch at 10:30 in the morning! Ridiculous! Most schools there don’t have a cafeteria, and the students go home for the mid-day meal.

In the U. S. we have fast food all over the place — we are lazy, harried, hurried, and have to toss meals into our mouth, on the way to a meeting, the rest of the job for the day, daycare, and then the responsibilities at home. Italians understand how to relax in a way that we don’t.

It’s hard to believe that even in oppressive China, adult workers can put down their heads and rest at the desk for an hour. According to the Sleep Foundation, there are actually several kinds of naps, for the restorative to the appetitive type of nap. And five minutes is way too short — 20 minutes is much better. Learn more about napping from the Sleep Foundation.

So what if you can’t take a nap during the day? Sometimes a few minutes of slow, deep breathing can help, like right before you first get up in the morning, or while your own kids are napping or playing quietly. Or read a few articles out of a magazine.(But be careful about napping — one time I was so exhausted I fell asleep and my oldest son spray painted his little brother’s arm blue. Yes, it took some work to clean it off!)

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