Sleep, Sleep, Sleep – Counting Sheep!

The whole world seems to be tired or experiencing a “mental fog.”

We are living in a society where one in every three of us is not getting enough sleep. There are waaay too many things preventing us from getting a good night’s rest. Some of these are by designed by business interests that want to keep us awake, so our relationship with sleep is not the healthiest. When you consider COVID stresses, streaming videos, and for some, nightlife, it is easy to understand.

Sleep is a topic that should be taken seriously. It is one of the most important aspects of your health and life. Good sleep involves an understanding of diet, exercise, and work/life integration. We know that without a restful, peaceful sleep, we are not our best selves. The goal is to calm our mind and central nervous system.

Sleeping tips for anyone (at any age) can be helpful. Consider the tips below if you are someone who gets up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep, or if you have a hard time falling asleep once you get into bed.

A few things you should know before I get to my tips. When you wake up in the morning, your cortisol (stress hormone) is high. The reason is because it helps to keep you awake and alert as you get ready for the day ahead. So, ease into the day.

Next, stress, even when you first wake up, will adversely affect your day and your sleep at the end of the day. So, wait before you begin your “work-day.” By this I mean do the personal things upon awakening first – checking voicemail and emails can wait. Ease into the day – many of us check our voice messages and email the minute we get up in the morning. Any given message can certainly start to cause stress or alertness. Then your adrenals jump up, your cortisol (which is a big part of your sleep process) increases, your heart rate may get higher, and you may get anxious. And then you are ‘off to the races’ and you haven’t brushed your teeth yet!

Pay attention to your resilience level. Your resilience level is shaped by your thinking style (look at what energizes you and what depletes you), your individual needs, and your experiences. How have you sustained your resilience during this pandemic? You have to dig deep to persevere and endure. Sleep, diet, and exercise, which many consider trite, are of the utmost importance. I said this above, but it bears repeating: without a restful, peaceful sleep, you are not your best self.

One of the tools that I use for myself and which I use to guide clients is setting up a nighttime routine. People often hesitate or resist setting up a routine, but they really can work. Think about how good it will feel to get a good night’s sleep. You’ll feel refreshed, clear, and ready to take on the day!

Creating a Routine

Be prepared – mentally. Allowing yourself to calm and decompress helps you to relax. You can visualize how you want your day to go. Leave yourself a list of one or two things at the end of the day so it helps you get started the next morning.

Form a habit. Do the same thing each night at the same time, such as turning off everything electronic at nine o’clock; then brushing your teeth and getting into bed. This sends a message to your body. You are telling your body and your mind to settle down instead of your mind telling you how it is going to be and running the show.

In this process, take command of your chatter or self-talk (and therefore your life). Your mind really does sometimes ‘take on a life of its own,’ literally and figuratively, and it’s hard to quiet it down.

Prepare your body and mindset with an intention to improve your sleeping habits, and to create a routine, so you are not sabotaging yourself each night.

Breathing Exercise

Here’s a simple breathing exercise: 4X4X4. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds. You can adjust the seconds with a rhythm that works for you.

Tapping – Emotional Freedom Technique (commonly referred to as Tapping)

Tapping is a wonderful technique where you tap on different points on your body to release stuck energy. When tapping, you are working on the underlying emotional component and the pain or problem while tapping on it. Tapping calms the mind and nervous system. Five to ten minutes of tapping sends signals to the brain, cardiovascular system, nervous system which allows your body to relax and let go. Considering we have 65-70,000 thoughts each day with 77% of those thoughts being negative, tapping can be very helpful. To learn more about it, feel free to contact me with absolutely no obligation. It’s easy to show this to you on FaceTime or Zoom.

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Be Vigilant With What You Put in Your Body and Mind

Biochemically it is important what we choose to put into our body and mind (violent shows, the news at bedtime, junk food, our self-talk, any discomfort or pain) as these choices WILL affect us, both positively and negatively. If you watch the news, don’t watch before you go to bed. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is a very big part of the sleep process. Remember, your mind continues to process even as you sleep.

Mind Dump

I keep a pen and pad on my night table. If I have a lot on my mind I write it down to get it out of my head, knowing that I can refer to it in the morning. It allows me to decompress and that process is calming.

Build Your Resilience and a Positive Mindset

Set your intentions and create a nightly ritual that works for you. Because of the negative slant that our brain has, we tend to think of what’s missing rather than focusing on what we have. You must be intentional with your thoughts. You control your thoughts, they don’t control you.

Take command of your life … Make yourself and sleep a priority.

Tips on Staying Mentally and Physical Fit

What are you doing to stay mentally and physically fit? For physical fitness, if your answer is, I’m not sure, not enough, I want to do more, or I need to do something, then it’s time to get creative.

In pre-Covid times, I was working out by going to exercise classes, playing tennis when I could, and using different machines at the gym. Nowadays, I work out at home. Turning a room or area in your house or apartment into an at-home gym can be the answer. For example, I bought foam square flooring and laid it over tile in my living room so I had cushioning for better body support. I created a workout space for myself consisting of a yoga mat, press bench, various weights, kettlebells, resistance bands, and a table to put my phone or laptop on so I can take online classes. I also really enjoy getting outside and walking my dog.

For my mental fitness, I focus on work, practice meditation, and gratitude, do jigsaw and crossword puzzles, read, write, and journal.

To relax, I listen to soothing music and audiobooks, take walks, get fresh air, bake, and watch Netflix.

Doing all of these things helps me stay clear and positive. There are so many things that are out of our control (especially these days), that being able to focus on the things we can control, like eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, and virtually connecting with loved ones, will help keep us all mentally and physically strong.

What are you doing to boost your mood and fitness during this time?

Rethink, Regroup, Rebuild for Now and the Future  

The new year has gotten off to a quick start. The headlines in the news continue to be about vaccines and politics, and a more recent voice that has been one of hope and promise. Wishing you all to be well and safe. Our medical community doesn’t need more patients! Thank you to all people who have been in service and volunteering to help our country, our world. It’s our duty to leave the earth in good shape for the generations to come. Let’s all work together.

We now have the first month of 2021 behind us. What I found interesting in 2020 was how fast the year passed. With most people working remotely and being home in general, and most activities being shifted to video calls, many thought the year would pass by slowly. Instead, the year seemed to go by at warp speed. Even January passed by in the blink of a second.

Working efficiently and effectively with our time management and organization skills are of the utmost importance. With many of our kids home, ranging from nursery school to college, we need to create an environment that is good for adults and children to work and play. Design or redesign a space that works and is comfortable.

Since we aren’t quite sure what the new normal will look like, I think it’s important to set up some type of routine or schedule so that we have something constant in our lives. Eating our meals together, setting a homework time, monitoring how many zoom calls we are on, and so on, will create some consistency and structure. Where we can have some control in our lives, take it.

Here are a few tips to help you manage … and if you’d like a time management tool simply email me at [email protected]

Self-time and Self-care
I am putting this tip first because people tend to put it last. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help others. Make sure you have downtime during the day. Take breaks. We should be called human doers instead of human beings. Most of us do, do, do! We are not machines … even machines need to be well-oiled! Try just ‘being.’ Take good care of yourself. Stay healthy. And if you go out, follow safety guidelines. Be respectful.

A pause allows you to take a breath, to be present, and to be at choice. Therefore it gives you a chance to rethink, to regroup, to rebuild.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Viktor Frankl

Be Positive
When making decisions you want to be sure you are coming from a positive mindset. Making fear-based decisions typically don’t bring you the outcomes you desire. Focus on what you have, not what’s missing. We all have the opportunity to be happy and move forward.

Be Present
In the present, we are fully alive and engaged in what we’re doing. It’s okay to think in the past or the future but bring yourself back to the present. It’s only in the present that we can be at choice.

Clear the clutter
If you want to clear your head, start with the clutter around you and within you. There are three types of clutter. Emotional, electronic, and physical. Clear your head of negative self-talk, clear your physical space of anything you are not using or plan to use, and clear your computer of the hundreds of emails that are just sitting there. When you clear the clutter, you will be able to focus better and with clarity.

Be Productive
If you haven’t set goals, it’s a great idea to do so because they help us navigate our lives. Make a reasonable ‘to do’ list and go through it one by one by one. People feel good when they are productive … you can feel their energy when they succeed. For starters, write down a couple of personal goals and professional goals and set your sight on accomplishing them.

Using Your Time Productively: 8 Tips for Better Living During Stressful Times

How have you been managing your time during Covid? Most people are working, playing, eating, celebrating different occasions, and so on, from home. People are becoming more comfortable with ‘tele-everything’ and adapting to virtual platforms, both professionally and personally. 

No one is sure what the new normal will look like yet, and life as we know it will be different. That is not a “bad” thing, it’s simply different. From ordering groceries to ordering almost any product you can think of, many people are managing well. 

Doing something constructive with your time is important. Many of us thrive when we feel a sense of achievement and in learning something new. I have a client that is taking piano lessons, another client that is learning how to host virtual workshops, and another who has joined a group who share similar interests. My husband started a podcast.

The point is to take baby steps forward. Here are some things you can try. And if you have any other ideas, please share ([email protected]).

Be Productive

Do one thing each day to move yourself forward. What about setting up a nice office space in your house or apartment?

De-clutter and organize your “stuff”

There are so many people de-cluttering and organizing that stores that sell the containers and storage are backordered. De-cluttering and organizing will allow you to think more clearly and feel more focused.

Spend quality time with your family

Staying in on a weekend as opposed to running errands, eating out, going to the movies, etc., can be a wonderful way to spend quality family time together. Try a board game, video game, or anything else that comes to mind. Be creative, especially with the holidays coming up. Is there something you can make, build or design together?

Positive mindset

Practice positive, productive thinking. You can look for the silver lining in all situations without being ‘Susie Sunshine.’ When we don’t have control over certain areas in your life, make the best of any situation that you can.  

Catch up with technology

It’s a good time to learn how to use technology if you are not skilled at it.

Books and games

What about joining a virtual book club or playing games?

Celebrate occasions

Why not celebrate a virtual birthday, graduations, or any milestones? Any joy is worth celebrating. 

Home gym

Stay in shape, physically and emotionally. There are many on-line fitness classes being offered. For example, I put the rubber flooring on the tile in an area in my home so that the floor was cushioned, bought some weights, a Pilates ring, jump rope, bands, and mats, and I watch a class or two several times a week. It gives me a great way to start the day and provides structure that I like. It’s a win-win! And it was inexpensive!

Like everything else in life, you can make good use of the time or you can complain. It’s your choice, choose well! Change is okay … it can even be better than okay!