We have been exploring sleep issues and ways to help you find that better sleep. In the last blog, we were looking at practical things to do on a more physical level. Today we want to explore things we can do that will help us with our anxiety and stress levels, to enable us to sleep better. Our unconscious minds are black and white, they mainly work based on input and output. Being stressed, anxious and not sleeping well, can come from having too much in our lives that we are trying to cope with. By not finding those instant solutions we need, we then end up just juggling all those things around in our heads, this at times can become overwhelming for our minds. Life for many of us is a juggling act, if this is work-related then it is important that we find strategies that help you switch off from work and leave it behind till the next day.
If we are constantly popping back in our minds to revisit work issues, or work issues are popping back to visit us throughout the evening, then our minds aren’t going to feel as relaxed as they should at night. I know for many of us our work is important and we need to take this seriously, but if we are not at work then we can’t fix these issues. Also, if we are thinking, pondering, reflecting, and worrying about these things, it won’t make us more productive at work, it can often just make us more stressed which has an adverse effect on us and our workload. Always remember that if we are not at work, we can’t fix work, so let’s stop the worry and leave it behind. If you drive home from work, how about on your drive home make yourself a voice note, here you can offload what your mind has been storing up through the day. You can do this if you work from home as well, just spend another few minutes in your office making this recording. What most of us will find is that all those things you got finished and put to bed through the day, won’t be the things at the front of your mind. As the saying says, we have put them to bed, as we have finished them. Guess what then? All the other things that we haven’t finished, then we are just taking them to bed with us. Even just thinking about this for many of us will feel a bit stressful, our beds aren’t big enough for us all to sleep separately from these things and we are then just one mass of stuff, swirling around in our heads.
We dream for two to three hours every night and in this time, we are processing what has happened through the day. If you see your dream time like your library assistant, they are taking all the things we have done in the day and filing them all away for us. Imagine your mind like this massive library with sections, from how we walk, to what we have eaten, all those things we have done in the day, up to those big issues and life-changing events, are going through it. This is just amazing that our minds do this because if our inner libraries were not organised we would constantly feel overwhelmed with things. Just imagine that image of your library counter full of all those unfiled items, maybe for some of us we have filled the counter and we have piles of stuff all over the floor as well. That is stressful and not conducive to a good night’s sleep.
So, back to that offload of the day in a voice recorder or voice memos; what you will find when you record your thoughts might be, “I need to call John first thing tomorrow to sort out that contract.” “I have to finish that edit, chase that invoice, get that paperwork sorted, find that information my boss needs”, and yes for many of us the list goes on. Keep going with the recording until you have finished putting everything down. You can then stop this recording and know that all those things that were spinning round in your head unfinished have now been logged. By doing this you can then start this new process of switching off from work and switching on to your home life. If any of those things pop into your head in the evening you can say to yourself, “It is ok, it’s on my voice recording list, I can’t do anything till tomorrow”. Then distract yourself back to your night and whatever you are doing, if something pops up that is new you can just add this to the voice recording and then do the same and just get back on with your evening. Over time, you are creating a great habit of not holding these things in your head, and your mind will then create a holding space in your inner library where you hold things for your next day of work. This will mean your librarian won’t be holding all this info on the front desk and feel overwhelmed, not knowing what to do with everything. In turn, you won’t feel overwhelmed and with that, have a clearer, calmer mind, and you will sleep better.
You can use this approach not just if you go to work but also if you are busy working at home or running a busy home life. It is important to see that getting your mind clear will enable you to have a better night’s sleep. The next blog will explore more ways to detox your mind and enhance your sleeping capacity. Enjoy your week. Sara x