You haven’t slept well for the past few nights, and as you reach for your third cup of coffee and a biscuit to wake you up a bit, you notice that your hands are shaking, your heart is pounding and yes you’re awake, but you just don’t feel like you.
Unfortunately, for the average person, life is full of things that will keep you awake at night. Money worries, your child’s having problems at school, you’ve got a loved one sick in hospital, or perhaps a combination of small factors have crept up on you, and now you find yourself in a period of unquestionable and unrelenting stress.
So what do you do?
While you (probably!) can’t click your fingers and magic away your problems, it would also be safe to assume that you can’t pack up and abandon your life in favour of a tropical island getaway (but please, do keep dreaming!). That being said, there are a few things that you can introduce into your daily routine and carry out consistently to make sure that you’re giving your body, mind and soul their best possible chance at dealing with your less than average situation.
Please note, this doesn’t replace professional medical advice and is meant as a guide to personal wellness only.
We know you’ve got deadlines, but having a phone by your bedside that’s beeping and flashing all night will disturb your sleep pattern. The same goes for ipads and laptops immediately before bed. As much as possible, switch your devices off and give yourself some quality time for deep breathing, meditation or to read a good book for escapism. You might find it easier to drift off if you give yourself some quality time to unwind fully before you try to sleep.
Ok, so you might not be sleeping well, but don’t use that as an excuse for doing the housework late at night. Practice mindful breathing and some relaxation techniques so that when you’re lying there wide awake, at least you’re giving your brain the chance to slow down. Sprinkle a couple of drops of lavender onto your pillow too; the essential oil is abundant in calming properties which will alleviate sleep deprivation and calm anxious minds
Make sure you’re drinking enough pure water (alcohol, coffee and cordial don’t count!). While you’re feeling stressed, your body is producing nasty toxins which a hydrated body disposes of more effectively. Anywhere from a minimum of 1.5 litres a day will make a significant difference to your well-being but aim for between two and three litres.
Ideally, go for a run or attend a gym class. Exercise releases endorphins (the feel-good hormone) and tires you out so that you have more chance of getting a good night’s sleep. If you can’t manage this, try a walk around the block on your lunch break. Gentle outdoor exercise increases blood flow which improves energy, sharpens brain function and will help you to combat stress. A daily dose of fresh air improves digestion, improves blood pressure and gives you more energy. In short; it’s super good for your soul.
While you might be craving those sugary snacks and afternoon pick-me-ups; put the doughnut down! Your body will thank you far more for enriching it with fruit, vegetables and inflammation-fighting goodness. A small blender is a cheap and convenient way to make pre-prepared green smoothies packed with spinach, fruit and vegetables. Carrots, hummus, nuts and rice cakes are all nutritiously dense snacks which will get you through the afternoon all while being kind to your body,
- Scale back.
Learn to say no. Everyone wants a piece of you, but right now you need to focus on you. Cancel those plans which can be arranged for another time and don’t feel guilty for telling people that you’ll catch up with them another day. Those people close to you will understand and those who don’t…
- Set boundaries for your day.
Write a list of what you need to achieve. Anything above that is a bonus. Don’t be hard on yourself for only completing the basics, in fact – give yourself a high five – you completed the basics! Prioritise, and do one thing at a time, you’re a bit slower than normal at the moment, and that’s OK.
- Ditch the alcohol.
No matter how tempting it is to have a few glasses of red to help you sleep and forget about your troubles, if you notice this is turning into a habit then try and cut back and swap your late night wine for a cup of herbal tea. In the short term, alcohol boosts serotonin levels which makes you feel good. In the long term, however, it has the opposite effect and leaves you feeling tired, anxious and sad. Yes, you might feel good while you’re drinking it, but afterwards, too much alcohol will leave you feeling like your troubles have been compounded.
- Seek professional help.
If you feel like everything’s getting too much and you don’t know where to turn, speak to your GP or another trained professional. They will be able to offer practical advice and refer you for further treatment if required. Remember, you’re not in this alone; no one is in anything alone.
Whether you’re a wife, mother, father, brother, friend or employee, everyone has roles to play in life which often involve supporting others. You might think you don’t have time for any of the above, that the world will stop if you’re not taking work calls at 11 pm, or that a few wines at the end of the day is a perfectly acceptable way to unwind, but remember this: If you’re not strong yourself, you can’t be strong for others.
So go easy on yourself, take care of yourself, and PLEASE, don’t ever give up on that tropical island getaway!