Oops! I said that I would be blogging each day this week and I missed a day. So let's call this a 'teachable moment'.
Something that I have learned in my years of depression is to pull back when I need to. It's been a hectic few weeks and, honestly, I just didn't have it in me to write yesterday. So instead of pushing myself to add one more thing to the must-do list, I took something off of it. I reprioritized, completed what I really did have to do yesterday, and then had some quiet time for myself. And guess what? The world didn't end. It didn't even slow down. But I did.
This little lesson fits in with what I want to talk about today: mindfulness and sleep. So let's start with mindfulness.
Do you listen to your body? If you lifted something heavy and strained your back do you then recognize that the pain means you need to help it heal? What about when you have experienced a stressful event in your life - do you read the messages that your body and spirit send you?
Often, mental illness will manifest itself physically. Backache, headache, tummy troubles, sleeping issues - these can all be signs of too much stress or something serious such as depression or anxiety. One of the best ways to tune into what your body and mind are telling you is to create time for yourself, time to be mindful.
Great idea but how do we do this? How do we create pockets of time in our busy lives? I have a colleague who is really great about taking his lunch break to go for a long walk. After about 45 minutes outside he'll be back at his desk, juggling a fast paced job but feeling refreshed. I have taken a page from his book and now, instead of working through lunch I will often find someplace quiet where I can be alone and just be in the moment.
An added bonus of taking time for mindfulness is that it is helping me sleep better. Because I am creating pockets of time to slow down, I am more in touch with what I need and what I don't need in my life. By letting go of some of the 'clutter', I am finding it easier to unwind at night and I have less of a hamster wheel going in my head when I go to bed.
Sleep is a crucial element in overall wellness. A classic hallmark of depression is sleep disturbances - both hypersomnia (sleeping excessively) and insomnia (when you have difficulty sleeping). I have experienced both ends of the sleep spectrum and neither are fun. It can be extremely frustrating. And not just frustrating, it can be detrimental to your overall well being.
After one night of poor sleep you begin to lose brain tissue and you are more likely to have an accident. After a week of poor sleep your risk of diabetes and heart disease rises and your risk of stroke quadruples (yes, I said quadruples). To learn more about sleep and why getting enough is so vital read this article written by Neha Shah courtesy of Levo.
OK, you're convinced. But it's not as easy as setting your mind to it, is it? Here are some top sleep tips courtesy of the Mayo Clinic. My personal favourite is #4 - a cool bedroom, soft flannel sheets, and white noise all help me sleep better.
So tonight try some of these tips. Get out your old teddy bear if that helps. But most importantly, be gentle with yourself.