Each week of the course has featured handouts, which often include material not covered in the course. This week’s handout had a section on sleeping well.
Stress is a great thief of restful sleep. There’s nothing like the dark quiet of 3am to leave anxious thoughts whirring around your brain, when you’re too tired to give them any perspective!
Sleep problems can manifest in various ways, from difficulties getting to sleep, to waking during the night, to waking up early or feeling unrested. Stress, illness, pain can all cause sleep problems, as can overeating, alcohol or caffeine, lack of exercise, or a change in routine.
Advice – as well as trying any of the previously covered relaxation techniques (one I haven’t mentioned yet: to stop the repetitive whirr of unresolvable issues, try counting backwards from 500) – includes:
- develop a relaxation routine for before bed, be that a hot bath, reading a novel, or some meditation, etc.
- the stretch-relax routine is a good one before sleep, as well as ‘saving’ the other kinds of relaxation for non-sleep times.
- avoid intense discussions or arguments before bed
- don’t fret about not sleeping! This can be worse than the not sleeping itself. Even just relaxing – awake – is better. Accept that some days you will be tired, and know that you can cope with the occasional one of those. You might want to try doing something relaxing if you really can’t sleep – a jigsaw, or watching (non-action-packed!) tv, or reading or just anything you want to get done. That way at least the time isn’t wholly wasted, and that might help you relax a bit more about not sleeping.
- avoid naps – they will upset your sleep rhythm
- try getting up at the same time every day, including weekends and after nights when you haven’t slept well
- if your brain is really whirring with anxiety, don’t just lie there – get up and go to a different room. Something like journalling might help calm your mind.
- get enough exercise in general, perhaps some light exercise in the early evening
- leave yourself at least 90 minutes of ‘wind down’ time before bed – do only undemanding (mentally and physically) during this time
- [it’s usually recommended that you also switch off electronics during the period before bed, too – and try not to keep any in your bedroom]
- even if you can’t sleep, try to enjoy relaxing.
Today’s session was largely about relationships and communication.
The exercise was to pick someone who irritates you – someone close to you, friend or family, who can really press your buttons. This wasn’t just about putting yourself into their shoes, but to really really try to inhabit their skin. How would they sit? What facial expression would be ‘them’? Take a good five to ten minutes to try to feel being that person. Perhaps you’re finding yourself with facial hair, or hips, for the first time! 😉 This isn’t so much about putting yourself in their heads, although interesting to see if the physical leads to the psychological.
Have a moment before you’re done to imagine being them and yourself at the same time. Then, as you come back to being yourself, notice what changes. Do you sit up straighter, etc?
This exercise is all about empathy, of course, but with the slightly different slant of focusing on the physical rather than just the ‘how would they think/see this’.
We also covered the stages of communicating a difficult change to someone, from not belittling your own needs/wants, through compromise and restating the key points to ensure that both parties understand the same thing from the words!
Following on from this post, I realised in my sleepy state I’d forgotten several things we’d covered!
First, the concept of ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’, and how much we use these words to beat ourselves up. Try and catch yourself! Even the fun stuff in life is all too often turned into a ‘should’ – I should really go on holiday. I must catch up with the girls, it’s been ages. It might sound minor, silly even, but just the change from ‘should’ to ‘want to’ in talking/thinking about a task can make it easier or more enjoyable. Even chores – not “I have to do the ironing”, but “I want to look after my clothes and feel good about my appearance.” (for example)
We also did a really lovely visualisation exercise, based around that idea of change. We were to imagine ourselves somewhere calm and safe, with a view of a broad swathe of sky. Imagine the warmth of the sun against your skin, and a cool breeze. Now look out and see the shadows start to lengthen, and the birds singing the evening chorus. The air cools a little, and the sky starts to go from blue into the amazing reds, oranges and pinks of sunset, then darker still into indigos and the deep deep blue-black of night. The stars come out – what a view you have of the milky way! Ponder for a moment how far those pinpricks of light have travelled to reach you. Now watch the moon rise, throwing shadows around you, shifting as the orb tracks across the sky before setting. Feel the calm moment of utter stillness, before a hint of light starts to show in the east, gradually brightening through the golden pinks of dawn. A few chirrups start from the birds, building to the full dawn chorus as the sky continues to brighten. You can see the dew on the grass in front of you reflecting the new day’s sunlight.
As well as being relaxing in its own right, this visualisation reminds us that change is a constant. The sun dips below the horizon every night, and rises again every morning. The seasons rotate in the same manner. As a tree loses its leaves in autumn, it doesn’t fret for the loss but rather makes space for the new growth in the spring. Likewise, our own lives will change and cycle, and each time something falls out of our lives it makes room for something new.
Because hey – one challenge is never enough, right?! But since I’ve got Inktober, NaNoWriMo, and Christmas (cards to make…!) taking up the last three months of the year, it’s now or never with this one!
Anyway. Over on Habitica (and there’s a blog post I must unprocrastinate over ;)) I stumbled across a challenge based around the article, How to Learn Something New Every Day (And Actually Do Something With It).
First you pick your learning style – for me, reading is always the start – and topic. Ah, topic, singular? Well, that sounds dull! Or easy 😉 In case you haven’t noticed, this is a blog (sort of) about being a Scanner – someone with more interests than time. Doing the same thing for 30 days sounds like torture! Well, actually, it sounds like a really sensible plan, but let’s not let that stop me! No, me being me, I’ve got at least three topics (and quite frankly I could have had one for each day, I think!), and they might look a bit familiar from the links at the top:
- Writing – Nano is coming (the new Stark motto), and there’s never a better time to learn some more about the craft.
- Headology – aka ‘other stuff’. I’ve just started a stress management course (which is entirely appropriate for this madness right here!), and summarising those lessons should help them stick. I’ve also got a new book on habits, so a bit on that too.
- Randomness – splitting the above into 2/week left me with a spare day. I could repeat one of my topics, but… while I can see it goes against the whole idea of a fixed curriculum, (a) I’m usually fully booked on a Friday, and (b) there’s always something that’s caught my eye to read later during the week, so let’s have a bit of a pot luck day!
Curriculum, you say? Why yes! Part of this is to lay out your plan of attack in quite a detailed manner before starting. Which has taken me HOURS (and almost put me off doing this whole thing quite frankly ;)) but here you can see the results of that toil:
Phew! So far so good, but there’s another part to this challenge: you have to SHARE what you learn! Gulp!! This is another reason I wasn’t quite so keen to stick to one topic. Or rather, why I was reluctant to just pick coding – talking about coding is way harder than actually just, y’know, coding
Some points for myself:
- this is a *fun* challenge, for me by me. Don’t stress about it!
- the curriculum is not carved in stone. See above, and move what needs moved
- in fact, let’s have a weekly review and be willing to totally shake things up rather than give up!
- the ‘Today I Learned…’ (TIL) posts should be short – I have to read/view/whatever AND write a post, AND continue with real life. I believe the original intention would have been a paragraph or so on e.g. Medium, but since this site is here (and a little less public…! o_O)
So. All going to plan (hah!) you can expect a slew of blog posts over the next 30 days. Well, I was almost certainly due a catch up 😉
Wish me luck!