I notice that when I spend my day hurrying through one project or task in anticipation of another, I will begin to have trouble sleeping. I’m lying in bed awake and thinking (anticipating), the next day’s tasks and chores. Living life in constant anticipation is why many Americans medicate themselves with prescription and non-prescription drugs, alcohol or food simply because it helps to temporarily shut off the mind. As many of you know, however, these unhealthy habits will not help you to achieve the kind or rest or quality of life that all of our running around is trying to achieve in the first place. Here are some of the ways that I use mindfulness practice to achieve a better healthier way of life and a good night’s rest when it seems there are more things to do than hours in the day:
- While you’re at work, running errands or doing chores around the house stop and take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What am I doing?” This simple practice will bring you back from wherever your mind is to the task at hand thereby creating presence. Being present throughout the day will go a long way to creating a peaceful night’s rest by relieving the stress of anticipation.
- Have reasonable expectations of what’s doable during your day. Being reasonable with you is an act of self love that will do a lot in easing the burdens of a too busy life style.
- Make a “to do” list before bedtime. It should be as extensive as you need. For example, if you’re anticipating a difficult conversation or job interview, it is extremely helpful to jot down what you’re going to say to the person. This will relieve the mind from the burden of having to remember everything.
- If at bedtime, you find that you have a habit of worry about things that you have no immediate control over, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Is that happening now?” This statement will snap you back into the present moment almost immediately. It is a very powerful tool that I use with great success with my five year old.
- * Make a bedtime routine for yourself by having a glass of warm milk, or a calcium pill and half a banana. This will help to calm the nervous system thus helping you to relax. You can also try chamomile tea or valerian root tea also.
- * DO NOT WATCH THE NEWS. Local news is filled with negativity. Instead limit your news watching to reputable network shows for no more than 30 min. per day, preferably in the morning or afternoon, or better yet read the paper selectively.
- Meditation. Try meditating at least 15 min. before bed time every day. Meditation combined with any of the above practices is a powerful combination that will help you to achieve peace of mind and the overall well being that you’ve been seeking.
I read recently that Americans today are working one month more on average versus Americans in the 1950’s. This is due to the misuse all of our many technological advances (cell phones, emails, faxes etc.). We are constantly available and online literally and figuratively. It is important to our collective wellbeing that we don’t become slaves to our technological lifestyles, but that we use our free-will and technology wisely to help support a mindful and happy lifestyle.
Photo Credit: Les Jay