Dumping” for your mental health. 5 ways to let go of sleepless nights.
Dumping. That word makes me think of garbage or spring cleaning, or maybe just getting rid of things. For me, summer always conjures up the idea of hoping I worked hard enough for wearing less clothes and vacations and fun. For many, it’s a time for peace and relaxation. Traffic is generally less, children are out of school, and it’s a time to travel and enjoy time with family and friends. Summer means an escape from our everyday lives, something we often look forward to every year. But, although we can get away from work, deadlines, our phones, and social media the one thing you can never escape is yourself. You are with you everyday, so why not take this more relaxed time to actually deal with all that ails you.
I came up with the idea of dumping, really by mistake. I was in session with a client and we were talking about negative thoughts. You know the thoughts we have that keep us stuck, tell us we are not good enough, not attractive enough, or not smart enough. But instead of just the thoughts we have throughout the day, we were talking about how they tend to steal sleep. I could totally relate, because for a while I struggled with that too. There were literally so many thoughts (seemed even more than during the day, probably because I was quiet), that I could not get my mind to be quiet. I thought of every possible thing I needed to do and what went wrong. My client had a similar experience which stole her sleep and, in turn her ability to function. So I thought about how to help her to dump that stuff. How do you let all of the noise in your head go, so you can rest? What I came to realize is that it had everything to do with how you end your night and what you do to release all this energy inside your body. So here are a few things that have helped us both, I hope it helps you too.
1. Journaling-I know you have heard it before, but it bears repeating. For me, journaling is a time for me to sort out my thoughts, sometimes there is so much going on with all the roles I have that I need to process it outside of myself. What I have begun to do is just write…about how my day was, how I felt, what I could have done better…and most importantly what I did well! I reflect on the improvements I’ve made and sometimes I just read a previous entry. That lets me know how far I have come, and I can appreciate the journey. I also get all of it out of my head before my head hits the pillow. It’s a win/win
2. Body breath-in times of the most anxiety, you generally feel it in your body. There can be heart racing, hands sweating, shakiness, or just general discomfort. Unfortunately, stress is not just mental, but often physical and is a big reason for many hospital visits. One night while praying, I still felt uneasy so I just let out a loud grunt, I guess I’ll call it. It was literally me taking a deep breathe in and exhaling with whatever noise came out. Kind of sounds like uhhhhhh (in the deepest voice I could muster). I do it over and over, until that uneasiness leaves me and it is one way to release the physical manifestation of my day. May sound silly, but it has helped tremendously.
3. Gratefulness/Set the mood: my sleep has everything to do with security and tranquility inside and outside of my head. To facilitate that, one other thing I do in tandem is state at least 5 things I am grateful for. My two favorites are food and shelter, you know those essential things we often take for granted? Then I put my essential oils in my diffuser and breathe deep. Couple that with my lavender mask and I am out for the count. I sleep beautifully because not only have I released what’s in my head and body, but I have also created an environment conducive to what I want-relaxation. For you it does not have to be either of these things, but what can help set the mood of relaxation-bath, calming music, meditation…the options are really up to you.
4. Imagery-some people are very good at imagining things. Writing may not be your thing, but maybe you have a vivid imagination. One of the things that can help you is imagining yourself letting all those thoughts go-maybe to the local dump, or an insinuator, or a garbage disposal. Remember Oscar the grouch from sesame street, give it to him-LOL. But really, what images can you think of where you can physically see yourself taking that thing-thought, concern, trial and let it go-leave it-erase it. Worrying won’t get you anywhere and this is a proactive way to deal with it and take back control.
5. Take 10 minutes to worry-What if it’s something that I have to think about and deal with? It’s an immediate and impending concern. Then ok, take 10 minutes to worry, to fret, to freak out. Then stop-so time yourself. Once you have taken the needed freak out time, think of what you can do differently, tell yourself you have created a plan and then go to sleep. There are some things that need to be settled before you can rest, they just don’t need to take nearly as long (or all night) the way we let them.