How to deal with an Anxious & Sleepless Night
I got really anxious last night and sleep was like a hummingbird, tempting me with it's colourful dreamscape expression, but darting out of the way every time I tried to catch it. Eek, I thought, I'm in for an anxious and sleepless night!
It was about 28 degrees outside and although I had a fan on, it's gentle droning and cool caress, usually hypnotic and beckoning me into the cradle of my sub-concious mind, was not working. My body felt itchy, my legs restless and my mind full of radio static desperately trying to find a station to tune into!
I know that the first domino that led to a chain reaction of tension culminating in this uncomfortable and frustrating unsettlement had fallen earlier on. It's very often something earlier in the day that triggers an anxious and sleepless night, so I followed my movements back in time.
It had been an argument, a disagreement and a reaction that felt like the kind of reaction that a toddler might have if someone were to knock over his or her building block tower. But, surely there was something deeper - the last straw? What was it?
Then it hit me.
The reason I'd had the argument was due to the fact that I'd been stressed due to some emails that I needed to get out on time.
Deadlines always cause me stress because I'm one of those people who are worried about getting it right and not making mistakes - It comes from way back in my childhood. I can't bear the thought of something being late or making a mistake. (I'm working on it!)
Lying in my bed, I felt that sinking feeling in my gut when I'm overwhelmed. The mind radio came on with it's dire messages - you were horrible - you should have said this, you should have said that - blah blah - and you think that you're evolving and becoming a better person?? It's hopeless you may as well give up!
I was stuck in my mind and far away from being present and connected with the love that I know I am. I felt an overwhelming feeling of sadness and it was so difficult to turn the anxiety off so I could get to sleep.
Life can be overwhelming & anxiety is ready to pounce....
An anxious and sleepless night is often the result of being too much in your head too near to bedtime. You try to work things out by thinking and trying to work things out when your mind and body need to relax. The thing is, you've always had to use your head to solve all of your issues (it's the way we're parented and schooled) nobody ever taught you that your kidneys provide you with energy up until around 5pm and then if you need a lot of mental energy after that time, you're most likely running on adrenaline. I don't remember any lessons at school that told us that our mind is in every cell of our body and that we can align the mind to the body so that we rest more easily.
So, when you can't work things out and it feels like you're failing, you can go the route of using your brain (not good for sleeping), or you can surrender to the body.
It takes practice and consistency, but you can choose!
But, I did get to sleep. Yes, a happy ending to this particular day, however, one win gives you confidence and before you know it, you trust your ability to settle. The best thing is, the more you trust, the more you surrender- now that is garlic to the vampire of anxiety.
Want to know what helped me?
Before I speak of strategies, the first thing is awareness. It's good to be conscious of when the first reaction begins! So presence during your day is very important - check in with your movements and your body often during the day.
I was frustrated and irritable. I became more racy as the adrenaline invaded my body and I felt the need to have a siesta after lunch which I fought against.
The self-caring thing to do is to listen to your body and rest when you need to. This question of who is right or wrong in an argument, what needs planning or what might happen next week, is not important, but it can get so huge in your head when it gathers momentum. Try to keep things lighter after 5pm.
I read some wise philosophy. This helps you to be aware and approach situations with wisdom. You recognise the truth in what you read which can be anything from a quote, a paragraph or a few chapters. It's lovely to go to bed with a feeling that there is more to life than your issues in the grand scheme of things.
Meditate - I meditate regularly and it's extremely affective to quiet the mind. I have to admit that in this particular instance, it wasn't as effective as it could have been - it didn't get me off to sleep, however it was a necessary step in the process. This may have been more effective with some relaxing essential oils in a diffuser or with a relaxing scented candle during the meditation.
What did work? The final tender touch that got me over the line and into the most beautiful and important part of the 24 hour cycle was my own voice.
I began with a hum (actually pronounced the word hum. I brought it from my whole body and focused in on the vibration of the sound. I did this about five times on different notes to feel the difference. Then I put my hands over my heart and sang the ahhh vowel (as in car) gently but strongly bringing my whole body into that sound with all of the tenderness I could muster. I experimented with some other vowels and pitches and then I stopped.
All the tension had disappeared. I turned over and surrendered to sleep.
Sweet dreams 🙂