It’s week three of the 30 Day Sleep Challenge. This week we will be looking at how to keep our spirits up and energy flowing throughout the day so that we approach our sleep time in a positive frame of mind and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Hello again, friends. As I write this I am sitting in my garden, the warmth of the day gradually fading as the sun begins to sink towards the horizon on this glorious early summer’s evening. I feel calm and at peace. I have been noticing this sense of calm and peace more frequently in recent weeks and I believe that twenty one months of working on my personal growth is paying off. I hope that this month will be the start of the same for you. Regular readers will know that this month I have been conducting my own self-devised 30 Day Sleep Challenge to overcome a lifetime of sleep deprivation caused from going to bed too late, experiencing poor quality sleep and intermittent insomnia. In the first week we set up our bed time routine (Insomnia: Ten Suggestions for a Better Night’s Sleep), in week two we set up a morning routine to start the day in a positive and calm frame of mind (Ten Steps For The Best Start To Your Day). This week’s focus is carrying that sense of calm and capability throughout the day by managing our thoughts and our physical well-being.
30 Day Sleep Challenge: Establish a Good Sleep Habit
Sleep is a vital component to an overall sense of well-being and life satisfaction. To get the most benefit from our sleep our bodies and minds need to be refreshed. We cannot easily fall to sleep unless our bodies are relaxed and our minds are calm. This week we will look at practical steps we can take to retain a sense of inner calm and physical well-being throughout the day so that we can sleep well at night.
Happiness Objective: to generate a sustained sense of calm, fulfilment and physical relaxation during the day, enabling you to fall to sleep quickly and sleep deeply throughout the night.
Step One: Drink more water. The UK’s NHS suggests we drink 6-8 glasses of fluids a day to stay hydrated, ie to replace normal water loss throughout the day. “Fluids” can include water, plain tea and coffee, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, low sugar drinks and no-sugar drinks, fruit juice and smoothies (source: NHS). Water is healthy and cheap; it contains no calories and no sugars. It is especially beneficial for a number of key physical functions including muscle building during work outs; preventing kidney stones; avoiding constipation; preventing headaches and even keeping your heart healthy, lowering your irritability and helping you to kick a cold! (Source: Readers Digest) It also helps to boost energy levels. While it may be tempting to reach for a cup of coffee when you feel your energy levels flagging try a glass of water or a herbal tea instead. Since I started drinking more water I have noticed a definite improvement in my mental alertness, a drop in my irritability and an increase in my energy levels.
Step Two: Get around people who energise you. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn is famously quoted as saying “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If you’re struggling to sustain motivation, experiencing a lack of inspiration, if you’re finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning it may be time for you to look at who you associate with. Are your friends or family helping you or holding you back? Does their conversation revolve around what’s wrong with the world and their lives? Do they encourage you when you try new things or point out the potential problems? Do they have lifestyles that conflict with your goals in life? Meetup, available as a website and an app, suggests groups of people in your area with the same interests as you. I found a number of social groups and personal development groups to motivate and inspire me. If your life is not going how you hoped, get around some people who will inspire you and help you to make changes.
Step Three: Focus on the wins. It’s easy to become self-critical and focus on the tasks you don’t get done, the mistakes you make, the embarrassing things you say or do, the times you lose your temper. When you’re reflecting on the day (hopefully completing your 30 Day Challenge journal) don’t forget to take a moment to congratulate yourself on the things you did well, on the effort you put in, on the way you handled a situation. Not all activities result in a defined outcome and these are the things that can be missed. It’s not always about what you’re doing but who you’re becoming. Sometimes the intangibles are everything. Focus on the wins, all of them, and don’t forget to……
Step Four: Reward Yourself/Make it fun. It’s a lot easier to stay motivated and stick to a task or keep a goal in mind if you know you’ve got something to look forward to. Build in reward intervals. This is a well-known technique for exam revision and can be easily implemented in any situation. If you’re working your butt off, don’t just dash on to the next task; take a moment to praise yourself for all you’ve achieved and at some point in the day treat yourself to something pleasant and fun. Take a walk, read a chapter of a book, eat an ice cream, run yourself a bubble bath, go see a film or simply stop and have a cup of tea before moving onto the next thing. Make a point of consciously acknowledging that you have earned this moment. Allow yourself to goof off once in a while and ensure that you allow yourself one day off from your normal routine to relax and recharge. Your quality of life is dependent on the quality of your thoughts so ensure that you build in plenty of downtime for your mind to have fun. Play, exercise, explore, relax, create: turn your mind loose on something that isn’t serious for a while.
Step Five: Drop and give me ten! If you feel your thoughts becoming intrusive, if you feel tension rising in your body, if you feel your energy levels dipping or your mood taking a turn for the worse then grab ten quick minutes to meditate. You don’t have to find somewhere quiet, so long as you can take minutes to zone out without interruption then do so. I did this myself last week; I was feeling tired and overwhelmed with the things on my “to do” list for the day. I realised I was losing perspective and starting to become anxious so I went to a cafe, refuelled with lunch and a cup of coffee and after my lunch I set my alarm for ten minutes, closed my eyes and meditated. In the middle of a noisy, crowded cafe. I let the noise wash over me, I focused on the word “peace” as I breathed in and out steadily and I let the “to do” list drift away for a few minutes. My shoulders relaxed, the tension lowered in my body, my breathing slowed, my mind cleared and when the ten minutes was up I felt in control again. Try it for yourself, you’ll be surprised how effective it is.
Step Six: Prepare for the next day the night before. Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former CEO of Apple, wore the same outfit to work every day: black turtleneck top, blue jeans and sneakers. This was because he didn’t want to have to spend time or energy deciding in the morning what to wear that day; a simple and practical solution was to buy multiples of the same outfit and wear it every day. This may be a little extreme for you but the concept applies here; choose what you will wear before going to bed and you have more time and energy in the morning and so you will be less stressed. Prepare your lunch, shine your shoes, pack your briefcase, prepare the kids’ lunches; whatever small and time consuming tasks you can do beforehand will save you stress in the morning and can be cleared from your mind before bed. Write your to-do list, review your goals, set new weekly goals. Set reminder alerts in your phone for key dates or tasks the following week. Do whatever you can do to remove the mental load from your mind so that you can fall to sleep knowing that you have done all that you can today.
By following these six steps you should find yourself feeling more refreshed, more energised, more relaxed, having more fun, enjoying greater stability in your energy levels and experiencing lower stress levels, which should in turn lead to a raised level of happiness, a relaxed body and a calmer mind when you go to bed. It’s certainly worked for me this past three weeks. Don’t forget to keep your journal so that you can track your progress and let me know how you’re doing. You can drop a comment here or contact me via my Facebook page or my Twitter page. I’d love to hear from you. Have a great week.
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