The world is saturated with advice about how to live better, think better, feel better, and be better. There’s a lot of pressure to reach and sustain some level of perfection, but sometimes you just feel crummy. An occasional day or two gives us an opportunity to regroup and forgo responsibilities. It allows a chance to be without a to-do list, and without that voice in our heads telling us the importance of improving something.
Minor illnesses, crankiness, and insomnia are our bodies’ way of telling us that we are not honoring our own needs - that stress, guilt, responsibilities, and worry have supplanted our freedom to choose nothingness. This year, try a new approach. In addition to honoring your body through nutrition and exercise, schedule an abundance of downtime so that your body doesn’t have to compel you to take time off. If you actually write “downtime” on your calendar, you will be more likely to take it. Treat it as if those appointments are as important as any other. Then resist the temptation to get things done during those time-slots. Instead, play, do nothing, engage in a hobby, or enjoy nature. We’re not here to just do. We’re also here to just be.
Another way to eliminate some stress is to make sure you’re sleeping well. The ever-turning wheels of your thoughts may not turn off easily when your brain is crammed with worries and to-do lists. The mind needs a break. Good sleep can provide not only that daily break, but also gives your soul an opportunity to wander away from the body in freedom and limitlessness. The dream state provides a chance to visit your unconscious memories, find solutions, visit with guides and passed loved ones, and bring you messages.
Here’s a formula that works to ensure restful nights, especially if you struggle with insomnia:
First, select a daily hour during which you feel comfortable that you can go to bed each day, for example from 11 pm to midnight. Strive to make sure that your head hits the pillow by the end of that hour’s time. The consistency of a typical bedtime helps your body to create predictable rhythms that promote sleep.
Each night about 20-30 minutes before you shut out the lights, follow a series of steps to condition your body to disconnect from the day’s activities. First, prepare a hot, sugar-free, caffeine-free beverage such as chamomile tea (with honey if preferred) or warm milk. Sip your beverage in bed with lights dimmed. On a bedside notepad, jot down your daily “worry list,” a list of all the “stuff” racing through your brain. Get it out of your head and onto the paper. This technique often serves to deflate the seeming importance of the worries. The worries will be nicely preserved on your pad so you don’t have to “worry” about forgetting to worry.
After you pour everything out of your mind and onto the page, choose a time for the next day that you will “worry” about the items on the list. While thinking about your calendar, make sure that the time you choose will be free. Write that time on the piece of paper and, ideally, also set an alarm for that time. Put the list away, and feel grateful that your worries are now outside your body so you can sleep deeply.
This step works and here’s why: The part of your brain that is born of the earth (unlike your eternal consciousness) acts as a guard dog for you. It thinks it’s doing its job protecting you by not letting you forget anything that you suppose you may have to attend to. It can’t distinguish between a superfluous worry and a real circumstance for which your brain power can seek a solution. Therefore, it vigorously revisits all “unfinished’ happenings. By writing down all the items you feel you must think about as well as your worries of the day, your brain lets go. The watch dog rests. By choosing a time to revisit the list on the following day, your watch dog feels confident that it doesn’t have to keep the item consistently at the front of your thoughts.
The next step is to actually revisit the list the following day at the designated time. The items will likely seem less cumbersome when you read them than they did at bedtime. You may also find that some line items have naturally resolved themselves. If you do not revisit the list, your watch dog will stop allowing your brain to let go in preparation for slumber. Another benefit of recording your worries is that it helps to retrain the mind to let go of nonsense.
Downtime and restful sleep are major contributors to feelings of well-being and optimism. You will live with a renewed sense of peace and harmony, enjoying the energy to master the complexities of daily life.
If you would like guidance to help you discover your harmonious path, contact Karen for coaching or a one-on-one session. An investment in your happiness today pays for itself through prosperity, love, and peacefulness.
“Karen, you are like a lighthouse standing tall amongst your surroundings and casting a brilliant beacon of white light onto our world. I am grateful that your beam casts its way to me. Thank you for who you are and what you do.” - Ric Statler, Huntington, NY