Tag: anxiety

Stress Less: Sleep More

There is nothing, no thing, quite like a good night’s sleep.  It’s natures way of hitting “reset.”  And who couldn’t use a daily reset?  I know I sure can.  But we, the big collective “we” seem to have this notion that getting enough shut-eye is next to impossible.  There’s just too much to do…

Huh?  What is more important than your health?  What could be better than handling your to-do list with a calm mood and clear focus?

Sleep (or rather the lack of it) has been implicated in many many disease processes including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension as well as anxiety and depression.  It simply makes sense to make sleep a priority.

How?  It does take commitment, a willingness to listen to your body as opposed to overriding your physical needs in order to watch that late night program, get one more thing done, etc.

Remember when you were a kid and you could fall asleep just about anywhere?  You still could if you let yourself.  While literally falling asleep in a meeting isn’t cool, learning to once again tune in to the feeling of sleepiness washing over yourself can kick start your ability to get the rest you need.  So take time each evening to tune in to yourself, sit quietly and notice.  Do you feel the tug of the Sandman?

Just taking those moments to simply sit quietly gives your sleep rhythms a boost.  Once you do, you’re on your way to unwinding enough to get the rest you want.  A few other tips (there will be more on these later) that support getting restful sleep.

1. Turn off all electronics at least an hour before you go to bed.  (a half-hour is the bare minimum)

2. Turn down the temperature.

3. Create a bed-time ritual that relaxes your body and your mind.  Do it consciously and religiously.

4. Make sure you have at least 8-hours of in-bed time.  A REM cycle is approximately 90 minutes.  Eight hours give you time to settle, get seven full REM cycles and wake up refreshed BEFORE your alarm goes off.  Your brain needs to complete an entire cycle to optimize alertness.  So, on those days when you can’t get your full seven (or eight) cycles, get up at the end of a REM cycle rather than hitting snooze for 15 or 20 minutes.

 

For more on the link between sleep and anxiety check out:http://neurosciencenews.com/people-sleep-less-8-hours-night-likely-suffer-anxiety-depression/

 

 

Calm Your Nerves #25 – Rock on

rockRocking isn’t just for babies anymore.  Studies have shown that rocking – whether in a chair or hammock, or simply swaying rhythmically – soothes frazzled nerves, promotes healing and supports deep sleep.

So next time you’re feeling anxious, give it a try.  Find a rocker and treat yourself to a session of gentle motion.  Better yet, why not make rocking part of your bedtime ritual.  A half-hour of rocking in a chair while reading, knitting, listening to music or simply being, may be just the ticket to a deep restful, drug-free sleep.

Tip: For best results say no to television, cell phones, computers and video games while you rock. 

Put Down Your Phone

What’s got your attention?

In an age of 24/7 news and electronic devices that connect us around the world and beyond, it’s a valid question. Are you tuned in to your life? Or are you glued to a screen? And what’s behind that anyway?

Jefferson Bethke thinks we are addicted to our phones because today’s biggest fears are silence and the fear of missing out.

Click below to read more:

put down your phone

Calm Your Nerves #18 – Nod Your Head

nod headWho would have thought that saying yes, with a simple nod of your head, could bring relief to an anxious nervous system. It can IF you make that nod very slow and simple.

Awareness, in and of itself, is the backdrop for positive change. By bringing a bit of awareness to that head bob, you’ll find your nerves (and often accompanying body aches) releasing into ease.

Give it a try:

Sit or lie quietly.
Begin to nod your head as slowly and simply as you can.
Let your nod be VERY small and VERY slow. Stay in a range where the movement is easy and effortless.
Continue to nod in this way until your breathing becomes easy and regular.
Let it go and notice the changes.

For even more benefit, use your powers of observation and take notice:

How do your eyes move when you nod your head?
What happens along your spine as you nod?
If you are sitting, does how you take weight through your feet change as you nod your head?

Calm Your Nerves #12 – Step Lively

step livelyHow you’re feeling is evident in how you move.

If you feel down, chances are you’ll find yourself dragging about, every step an effort. Feel happy and your step takes on a bit of a bounce.

But mood isn’t all powerful. The opposite is also true. Change how you move and your mood will shift to match.

Give it a try:

Next time you’re feeling anxious, down, or worried, take a moment to notice how you are moving.

Are your feet dragging along?
Does your body feel heavy?
Are your movements labored and full of effort?

Once you know what you’re doing, get up and get going. Set a lively pace. The power to change your mood is in your footsteps.

For an extra boost walk outside in nature.
Add a shot of “happy” by walking with a friend.

Calm Your Nerves #10 – Deepen Your Exhale

exhaleNothing is more natural than breathing.

Your body thrives on the oxygen you draw in through your lungs. And your body knows exactly what to do to take a breath.

So why do you sometimes find yourself a bit short of breath, wishing you could pull in one big inhale?

A serious medical condition aside, it may surprise you to learn that it’s not so much an inability to inhale that’s keeping you from filling your lungs to capacity but rather an inability to exhale. In fact, Fritz Perls, M.D., one of the grand-daddies of body-centered psychotherapy, often noted that “Anxiety is excitement without breathing.”

Whether you’re holding your breath with anticipation or simply taking shallow breathes, the quickest way to deepen your breathing and release the tension in your ribcage (which by the by is one of the main reasons your breath became shallow in the first place) is to exhale completely.

Give it a try:

Breathe out.
When you feel you have reached your limit, push out just a little bit more air.
One way to easily do this is to imagine breathing out through a straw or blowing up a balloon. When you feel your lungs are empty give one last little blow. Make sure you’re exhaling from your chest and lungs rather than air held in your cheeks.
After that last push simply stop.
Hold your breath.
When you feel you really need to breathe, let go and allow air to enter your lungs.
Feel how much deeper and easier you are breathing.

Still not sure you’re doing it “right”? Here’s a clue. If you don’t automatically take a giant breath, chances are you’re “cheating” either by taking tiny inhalations or not allowing yourself to fully exhale. If that’s the case for you, fear not. Get an actual straw and a small cup of water. Blow bubbles continuously through the straw until your lungs ache for air. Hold your breath while you take the straw from your mouth and see what happens if you just let go and let nature take it’s course.

Notice: If you wait and let your inhalation happen automatically, your ribs will fully expand to pull air into your lungs. Your body WANTS to breathe. If you simply let it do what it already knows and wants to do, you’ll be rewarded with a much deeper breath than if you try to make your ribcage expand to inhale.

Calm Your Nerves #7 – Exercise

exerciseYou knew it. You just knew it. That dirty little “E” word was lurking around somewhere. Sigh.

Now that the proverbial gym shoe has fallen, it’s time to take a look at exercise and anxiety.

Studies are conclusive – exercise does enhance your mood and reduce anxiety. But how?

It seems that the very same neurotransmitters that cause havoc with your nerves when you’re floundering about are the very same ones that give you get up and go when you decide to push your body a bit. Go for a walk, a run, do a few jumping jacks – anything that gets your heart rate up – and you put those neurotransmitters to work FOR you. Then when you stop, your body hits reset and you’re flooded with neurotransmitters that support you in relaxing and unwinding.

Hit your own RESET button by setting yourself in motion. Choose something you enjoy for an even greater boost. And to maximize the calming effect, have a friend join you.

Calm Your Nerves #4 – Knit

knitIn olden times, say back in your grandmother’s day, there was a wise old saying that went like this – “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” It was a cautionary tail about idleness leading to mischief. Maybe, maybe not. But if you think of the devil as the personification of anxiety the saying definitely gains cred.

Busying your hands – whether it’s knitting, crocheting, making paper cranes, cooking, etc. – at an activity that also engages your mind, has been shown to reduce the grip of anxiety. Making “art” is akin to meditation in its positive effects on the brain and on mood.

So break out the yarn and knitting needles, dive into those craft supplies and make some art! You’ve got nothing to lose – with the exception of, just possibly, your anxiety.