As someone who always started the anxiety wheel going as soon as my head hit the pillow, I totally understand what it is like to try and sleep with troubles on your mind.
In a very short period of time, many bad things happened in my life, and I was left with this stressful feeling every day and especially at night, that feeling like you just can’t cope and don’t know what to do and yet you were exhausted. I have found the minute I felt out of control or helpless is the minute my sleepless nights got started.
It is a bit of a “catch 22” scenario, because you need restorative sleep so that you can function at your best, which is where you need to be to deal with whatever life throws your way. So, I knew no matter what, that I needed to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep without drugs.
I have since learned various ways to cope with this so that you can get a good night’s sleep and I found these 5 steps to be the most useful for me. Stress is very hard on your body if it goes on for any length of time, so getting a good night's sleep is a great place to start.
1. Keep a Journal
I resisted this step for a very long time, I could not understand how simply writing things down so that I could reread the horrors later was really going to help me feel relaxed. But I have to admit that is exactly what it did.
For this to work I found you had to use the old fashioned pen and notebook, not a laptop. The actual act of writing on paper takes the worries from your brain and plops them on the page and tires you out. Have you ever noticed that once you made a “to do” list
your chores were not scrambling around in your head anymore? That is because they are now safely on paper.
What’s Bugging You?
Putting things on paper is the perfect place to start. If you simply don’t know what to write, start by writing the things that are bugging you the most right now. It could be your boss, co-worker, something you have done that is bothering you, or something you left unsaid that
maybe should have been said. Maybe you are really nervous about something, or scared, write it down.
Whatever it is, write it down. You will find it will simply start to pour out. You can swear you can say whatever you want, this is your journal. You can do this in point form or as a story.
It could be that many little things are bothering you, so this is one way to really identify them too, so that you can deal with them.
One piece of advice that was given to me was to use a timeline. For example; if you have had many things go wrong in a period of time. Write them all down and start with the first thing that bothered you and then the next and the next. Writing them down tends to get them out of your head and stops those spinning thoughts
Worries are like a Ferris Wheel
As you fill up each seat of the Ferris wheel it starts to turn faster, so you need to unload. Vision your worries leaving the wheel and it slows down.
Get into the habit of writing in your journal before you go to bed, about anything that is bothering you especially that day. Believe in yourself, and be kind to yourself.
2. Take One Little Problem in Your Journal and Pick it Apart
Take one little piece of your worries, such as a problem you are having, and now list different ways you can deal with it. You can even make a Pro’s and Con’s list on what to do. Start with a little problem and finding a pathway or even a solution will give you a sense of control and power.
Sometimes it is simply a pile up of tiny problems that is causing the stress. Picking them apart makes you realize that you do have some control. But start small.
3. Now Be Thankful with at Least 5 Things in Your Life
At the end of your writing of all the bad things or whatever is bothering you and you just can’t write anymore, start a new page and write down at least 5 things you are thankful for in your life. It can’t be all bad.
It may seem hard at first especially if there is a heavy burden in your life, but there must be something that you are thankful for, even if it is simply the smell of fresh cut grass, or the smiling faces of your kids, or even that one pretty bird you saw today, or that one beautiful rose, something.
This sets the mood for you to be tired after the writing and in a better place for the thankful things you just wrote.
4. Have a Cup of Warm Milk or Chamomile Tea and a Snack
After all that writing, sit quietly and enjoy a steaming cup of warm milk or tea. I personally prefer the milk as I find it makes me sleepy, but if you can’t have dairy then try the chamomile tea, but don’t put milk or sugar in it, keep it clear.
Have a little snack with it too, as I find going to bed feeling a little bit hungry keeps me awake. I like to have a small handful of almonds or walnuts along with warm milk.
You may find a small bowl of cereal or piece of toast will help too, as a small carbohydrate can make you sleepy. Just don’t overload your stomach or you may end up with nightmares!
5. Foot Rub
Give yourself a foot rub, a good friend told me about this one and it works well. Sit on the edge of your bed, and even use some skin lotion and really rub the soles of your feet with your thumbs.
You will find this relaxing and your entire body will feel limber, plus it is a good way to get rid of those dried cracked heels.
Try to do these 5 steps every night, and it will become a bed time routine.
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