Stress Management Therapy for a Better Sleep
Don’t take your worries to bed! Both your problems and their solutions can be distorted in the half-light of 4 A.M., and all you’ll accomplish is to deprive yourself of the sleep and dream time that might actually help you solve those problems by the light of day.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. But take heart. Plenty of other worriers have come before you-and they’ve found ways to let go, at least for a few hours. Here are some stress management therapy that the sleep specialists have found helpful that might work for you, too:
> Keep a journal. Some people find that writing their problems down helps create a sense of resolution, even if they don’t actually discover a solution. There’s also something comforting about the journal itself-you can flip through the back pages remembering that you made it through each of those days, so why shouldn’t you be all right tomorrow? Some people arrange their night-time routine to include some journal-writing time followed by a little light reading. They find that the switch from active writing to passive reading makes a nice transition and helps them let go of their active daytime mode into a night-time state of receptivity to sleep.
> Imagine the worst. Many former insomniacs have praised this technique for letting go of worry. They focus on the problem they’re obsessing about and ask themselves, “What’s the very worst that could happen?” Somehow, naming the worst takes the sting out of it, whereas letting it lurk unspoken in the back of your mind gives it a lot more power, Some people like to imagine how they’d cope with the worst, allowing themselves to relax after assuring themselves that they have solutions ready for even that. Other people find that just naming the worst makes it clear to them that their most horrible fears really aren’t very likely to happen.
> Make a joke. No matter what’s bothering you, if you can find the humor in it, you’ll find it much easier to resolve, Allow yourself to exaggerate the situation. Find the irony in your problem, or let it remind you of a similar situation you’ heard in a joke or seen on a sitcom. Nothing puts worries perspective like laughter.
> Visualize your problem differently. Your mind is a powerful ally. Let it help you shrink your problem or remove it altogether, even if just for tonight. Picture your problem as a huge inflated balloon, and then imagine sticking a pin in it. Imagine your problem as a parcel that you place carefully in the room that’s farthest from your bedroom. See yourself entering your bedroom, shutting the bedroom door, and leaving your problem outside. Picture your problem dissolving from a huge cloud into a tiny little raindrop, which you then wipe away with a towel. Or let it shrink from being a huge boulder to a tiny pebble, which you then flip carelessly out the window. You might have so much fun playing with imagery that you forget to be worried.
> Change your self-talk. Often a worry carries with it an underlying negative message. Beneath your apparently logical ruminations, the same idea plays over and over, like a broken record: “I’m no good”; “No one loves me”; “Only a real idiot would have this problem”; “I can’t do anything right”; “If I can’t fix this, then I know I’m worthless.” Such negative self-talk doesn’t really invite a deeper exploration of who you are and how you might improve yourself-and it certainly doesn’t offer a productive way to spend your precious sleep time. See if you can allow yourself a positive self-comment: “I am loved”; “I am safe”; “I love myself”; “I have faith in you”; “I believe in you.” You might also focus on positive self-talk about sleep: “I am totally relaxed”; “I am slipping off to sleep”; “I’m looking forward to my dreams”; “I feel peace.”