I’ve always envied those people who, after a full day’s work, fall into bed and within thirty seconds, are sound asleep. That group, sadly, has not included me. I’ve always been a thinker, especially when it’s time to sleep. I’m the girl who crawls into bed after a long day and as soon as my head hits the pillow, my brain goes, “Ah-ha! I’ve got you captive for a few hours. What shall we re-hash/dissect/solve/create/dream about instead of sleeping?”
Can anyone else relate?
Over recent months, I have been pondering ways to truly ‘switch off’ when I go to bed (and in other moments throughout the day.) True, some of my most inspired ideas have come when I’m going to sleep, but I’m currently in a season where being well-rested is a necessity if I want to be able to give my best to what (and who) are before me in the coming months. Because of this, I’m having to become more aware of what stimulates my mind and what helps it unwind.
One of the things that has become apparent as I’ve explored ways to relax and rest is how important it is for me to be present in the moment. Mindfulness is such a buzzword right now but I have to admit, becoming aware of my current state whether it be mood, thoughts, body stance, breathing, etc. has been so helpful in pulling me into the present and out of the past or future. I am very futuristically-minded and I have found it (mostly) to be a strength. My ability to visualize future possibilities in vivid detail is an asset; however, when I’m feeling anxious or having a bad day, it can result in worry. While I love the dreaming part of me, it can cause me to miss being right here, right now. And being in the moment is a key for me when it comes to being able to switch off.
Being present enables me to give myself fully to the task at hand. It’s connected to being wholehearted, single-minded, and focused. Learning to switch off with intentionality also means recognizing when I’m firing on all cylinders. Both are important and have their times and places. The challenge is to know which circumstance or moment calls for which response and then to adjust accordingly. We live in a day and age where we are bombarded with stimulation from all angles, day and night. Cell phones, computers, tv, social media—all of it demands our attention and keeps us awake and in our ‘on’ mode. If we aren’t careful, we will miss the cues that our bodies, our spirits, and our emotions are sending us that are urging us to ‘unplug’ and take a break to recharge. The struggle is real!
For me, I know I can do ‘on’ well. But I believe there is an even greater capacity to living in an ‘on’ position that can only be accessed by truly being able to switch off when my body and mind need a break. Truly resting. Truly rejuvenating. Truly disconnecting. That way, when I’m called upon to fully engage in an activity (mental or otherwise), my body, soul, and spirit have had the time to refuel so that they can approach the task at hand with a full tank because I’ve truly rested when the time called for rest.
While I am no pro at this yet, I am determined to master the art of switching off as well as I can switch on. A few of the things I’m discovering that help me to unwind when it’s time to do so are the following (maybe they can help you as well):
Using a mindfulness app like Headspace or Calm to relax and meditate
Listening to music
Journaling when I wake up or right before bed. Both times help me clear my mind and release any internal clutter that I might be carrying around from either a restless night’s sleep or a stressful day.
Making a myself a hot drink (apple cider vinegar and honey in hot water help me relax) before bed, or any time when I’m needing a break
Burning a candle
Essential oils (diffusing or applying them directly to my body.) Cedarwood, lavender, vetiver, and valerian are several I love that help me sleep.
Practicing gratitude! I cannot recommend this enough. Take 3-5 minutes to deeply connect to several things you are thankful for. Write them down if you like. It not only pulls you into the present moment, it also lifts your mood considerably. (Ask my friends. I rave about gratitude every chance I get because it has been a total game changer for me.)
Taking a warm shower or bath before going to sleep
And the list can go on and on. I’m sure you have other ideas as well (I’d love to hear some.)
Because I have such a deep desire to live a wholehearted and courageous lifestyle, I regularly ask myself questions to gauge where I’m at in my journey. One of them is this: “Is the way I’m currently living my life sustainable?” In other words, if I were to continue with my current diet, my current exercise level, my current amount of nightly sleep, my current stress level, where would I be in one, three, five, or ten years from now? Of course, some seasons require more from me than others but overall, am I setting myself up for success? When I ask myself that question, I force myself to move into a ‘big picture’ perspective and unhealthy habits suddenly become much clearer. While other seasons have invited me to focus on other areas of my life, I know a key for me right now is recognizing what any given moment is asking of me, whether that be switching ‘on’ or ‘off’ and giving myself completely to it. Why not ask yourself a similar question and see what response springs up from within? Could learning to truly switch off so that your ‘on’ moments are more effective be a key for you? If so, come join me on this journey. Let’s tune in, become more present, and give ourselves the gift of learning how to live lives that we truly love. We are worth it.