Adopting A Restful Mind This Holiday Season

Adopting A Restful Mind This Holiday Season

As soon as the days get shorter and the air crisper our mind sirens seem to set off, especially around bedtime. Thoughts of family obligations, shopping lists, work deadlines, and even the upcoming tax season start to flood in. What happened to the sugar plum fairies, candy canes or candle ceremonies of our youth? So how do we bring holiday cheer into our thoughts while leaving the reindeer stampede outside?

ACCEPT REST

Training your mind to rest takes daily practice; it’s not an automatic skill. We have inadvertently trained ourselves to be super alert during wakeful hours, but that alertness doesn’t suddenly shut off at bedtime. Some of that may relate to not making time in our day to pause and reflect. The key is to leave problem solving to certain times each day and not just when we are settling down.

Sleep Train Your Mind

We need to train our over alert minds to take power naps, or time out, breaks during the day so at night we can easily fall asleep. Tossing and turning at night is typically the result of an overactive mind that can’t settle down. The key here is to make your bedroom your resting place, so when you enter this space, you will trigger restful thoughts. Soft music, dim lights and shutting down any of your blue light activities at least one hour before bedtime can give your mind the rest it deserves.

Worry Free Nights

At least two hours before bedtime—and outside the bedroom–set out to address any unfinished business that you didn’t address during the day. Personally, I like the idea of writing down my concerns for the day in one column and my hopeful solutions besides them. If I can’t come up with a solution, I write down “let it go for now.” Just jotting these concerns and answers down frees my mind to relax, rather than carry my worries into my sleep.

OCCUPY YOUR MIND

Reading about fiction at least 2 hours before bedtime, can give your mind the transition it needs from being overwhelmed by personal problems. Sometimes just trying to imagine the characters dress or customs refocuses and deactivate our minds. Also, imagining relaxing hobbies can be another tool to quiet your brain from overexerting itself before bedtime.

Manage “Poor Sport” Sleeping

One of the worst things you can do to screw up your sleep pattern is filling your mind with the belief that you’ll never get to sleep or stay asleep. Similarly, forcing yourself to sleep is just as bad for your mind and body. Try changing your beliefs and expectations about sleep. If you are beating yourself up, sleep won’t come easy no matter how much you try.

Be Mindful

Future thinking can evoke worry so why don’t you focus on the present when it’s bedtime? I like asking myself “What do I hear, sense, or feel as I am breathing? When something comes to mind, I just notice it and let it go. I try not to get caught up or trapped in my thoughts. Remember being mindful takes practice but you can learn to observe your thoughts even when you are distracted by the “have tos” of the next day.

PRACTICE SOS

Why not wake up from a restful sleep with gratitude and the determination to practice SOS (Slow down, Open Up and Smile). There is nothing like starting the day calm and centered. As you open the curtains, commit to being open to possibilities as well as problem today. While looking at yourself in the mirror tell yourself that it is okay to smile. By repeating this ritual daily, your rested mind will be ready for anything that comes your way.

 

REFERENCES

https://www.sleepfoundation.org

https://www.mayoclinic.org

Mindfulness and Finding Life Balance – Part 12 — Turn Self-Bashing into Mindful Self-Compassion This Holiday

Turn Self-Bashing into Mindful Self-Compassion This Holiday

During the holiday everyone thinks they have to be ho-ho-ho! but sometimes faking-it-until-you-make-it-so, doesn’t work.

Does your life look like it is falling apart or just falling into place? Either way, the holidays have a way of overwhelming us unless we take charge. Consider inviting, rather than resisting, the stress around you. If we take a mindful, non-judgmental, look at our situation, we may find ourselves more relieved and less doubtful.

Remember that you can change anything by facing it and embracing it. Too often self-compassion slips by us and we get down on ourselves for the slightest infractions. We need to break with the past to reclaim our courage. Being forgiving can open the door to self-love which leads us to create possibilities.

Mindful Self-Compassion

Mindful self-compassion is the ability to be aware of our despair and yet to be gentle with ourselves in the way we deal with it. Every time we knock ourselves down, we lose self-esteem points. Yes, we all realize that everyone has problems and bad days, and we tell ourselves that we need to be there for others. We’re conditioned to forgive others before ourselves.

In fact, most of us bypass self-compassion by being stressed out about work, getting upset with our mates, and having no patience for our children. To find self-compassion we need to not be impressed by our emotions, look at things as they are, encourage change and let go of preconceived notions.

Turning Self-Bashing into Mindful Self-Compassion

In order to become truly self-forgiving it important to not get caught up in our emotions. They are part of us but not all of us. If we become too impressed by them, we lose perspective about the importance of the moment. The first step to self-compassion is “loving awareness;” which means acknowledging negative emotions, but still looking at yourself the way you look at the loveliest rose or the sweetest baby.

Like our emotions we can get caught up in our thoughts which can easily derail us. The second step to achieve self-compassion is to accept life on life’s terms. This means to embrace the idea that everything is a journey and not a destination. The key here to know that not all journeys lead to rewards, but rather they all lead to great lessons.

Fear is the antithesis of love. It is bred from the assumption that life owes us something if we do this or that. So the third step to self-compassion is to abandon binary, black and white, thinking and replace it with healthy risk taking along with realistic expectations. The fastest way to disappoint yourself is to be expecting something with absolute certainty. Remember adopting a colorful attitude about life is a lot less boring and will help you let go of things you can’t fix or control.

One of the most mindful things you can do for yourself is to be kind to yourself especially when you mess-up. All of us miss cues, forget things, fumble, or just make mistakes. We can choose to suffer when these things happen or we can learn from them and move on. Taking things out on ourselves and making ourselves feel worse for it will only leave us with shame and not the relief we need. If we feel bad for messing up, why would we want to make ourselves feel worse?

Unfortunately, we all do this even though we know at some intuitive level we really shouldn’t. It is almost automatic, but being self-compassionate can be learned.

It seems that our society has taught us that self-criticism is the pathway to doing better: We need to focus on what is wrong with the way we act and/or appear in order to strive for perfection.

But there is no such thing as being perfect! What is wrong with simply being regular or “good enough,” as noted in the article 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy, According to Neuroscience in TIME magazine? We’ve learned from an early age that shaming leads to kindness and humility, but this is just not the case. According to Dr Neff, who has dedicated her practice to self-compassion, beating up on ourselves only leads to a chronic lack of confidence and an increase in displaced anger.

There are Mindfulness authors like Dr Chris Germer who believe in the healing power of self-compassion. Folks who can acknowledge that they are suffering in a loving way are more likely to take action to relieve that stress rather than make excuses for why they should stay in a suffering state. For example, people who are in intolerable living circumstances, abusive relationships, or self-imposed confinement and believe they deserve to stay there are not exercising self-compassion.

Vision

According to Marianne Williamson, we can choose to get out of our predicament or, better yet, create a vision to lead us to higher places.

People with true vision have learned that giving is getting. These folks are not self-serving, but think about how things will impact others. Compassion for others can deepen our capacity to be humble and self-loving.

When we are able to say “I value you/myself enough to know that I deserve better” we can begin the process of change.

References

Barker, TIME

Blog: World of Psychology Archives

Germer, The Mindful Path To Self-Compassion

Neff, Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind

Williamson, Our Deepest Fear