C A N Y O U R E L A T E ?
Poor sleep is the first place my own insecurities and any imbalances show up. Always. If I find myself staring at the ceiling at night, having felt exhausted all day and longed for my bed, and once again with no blissful nothingness of relief, I know I have some work to do. Can you relate?
Grounded is truly what we need right now. When we live a little more in our lower chakras, we are focused primarily on our basic survival. We’re talking stability, avoiding immediate danger, keeping ourselves safe, keeping the rest of our family safe. The lower chakras are where our insecurities about our financial future, our homes, our ability to provide and receive food, water, shelter, reside. And from the base, we build up. For without being grounded, without having these primitive needs met, it is incredibly hard to concentrate on anything else.
So this is a reminder, a brief once-over for you to take a breath, take stock, decide where you are right now and possibly which of these tips, if any, you could take on-board, as we begin to move through this very sludgy, very messy process of exiting lockdown and navigate all those worries and ruminations that are likely to keep us up at night.
B O O K C L U B
Firstly, your suggested on-topic reading for this month:
- A non-fiction self-help, for those of you struggling with sleep, ‘The Sleep Book: How to Sleep Well Every Night’ by Dr Guy Meadows (currently £5.99 on Amazon Kindle). Amazon says ‘Dr Guy’s pioneering methods at The Sleep School clinic have been an unprecedented success. By popular demand, his highly effective and 100% natural insomnia remedy is now here in this book. THE SLEEP BOOK is the sum of a doctorate degree in sleep and well over 12,000 hours spent working with more than 2,000 insomniacs in one-to-one clinics, workshops and retreat environments.’
- But if you would rather not fret over lost hours, or if you prefer to immerse yourself in some enchanting fiction to help you nod-off, our second read for September is ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller (currently £4.53 on Amazon Kindle). This is a true number one bestseller, praised as ’empowering, defiant and mesmerising’ (and one that’s been on my Goodreads list all year, so I’m thrilled to finally have an excuse to snuggle down with it!) There has been much research into how books with short sentences, and short chapters, can support a good night’s rest, and of course you need to keep your bedtime reading interesting, but not over-stimulating.
Let’s see how these two treat us.
Now let’s work through some personally tried and tested solutions to – if not dissolve the stress – perhaps distract the mind, give it something else to concentrate on rather than the endless bad news, and refocus the soul on a natural, restful night:
M Y 9 T I P S F O R N A T U R A L S L E E P (from a lifelong insomniac!)
- throw yourself into a morning workout, of a more intense variety (with a warm-up first, try something like a power yoga online class; high-energy Zumba dance around your kitchen, or a HIIT – high intensity interval training – session…you can even try mine(!) by clicking here) and an evening workout designed to wind you down and chill you out beautifully (some gentle yin yoga is perfect), for bedtime. This will mean you give your body-clock the best chance possible at having a reset, should it need it, and maintaining that regularity, at a time when your usual schedule may be out the window. Which leads me onto…
- having a consistent routine. Our bodies and brains LOVE a bit of predictability and that tricksy character, your circadian rhythm, may be a little out of whack right now. Wake up at a similar time every day – get up as soon as you wake up – go to bed with a similar routine every evening (bath/bed/tv whatever floats your boat). Be aware too that your natural wake up time may be an hour or two earlier in summer compared to winter. If it is…go with it. Your body is taking over, and it knows well. Let it lead you. And when you’re up and at ’em in the daytime, even if you don’t feel like it, spend as much of your time as humanly possible, outside…here’s why…
- get yourself outdoors. There’s something about soaking up the sun through your skin, but also joy to be found in whooping and hollering and running for cover when there’s a downpour! The key is doing things that take you out of your own head, and into your body. This is how we come back around to ‘grounding’ again. Nature is the ultimate grounder. Watch the raindrops. Touch the trees. Magic.
- celebrate the good days. Cheer for every small win. Focus on what’s going well for you and your family. If it’s a mind game that’s keeping you awake, or stressing you out, this is the most powerful way to re-write your thinking. Gratitude trumps ego, every time. Being thankful beats wallowing, always. Try it.
- try some natural remedies. Those old wives tales haven’t been around for a hundred years for no reason. Lavender, whilst stopping short of ‘knocking you out’ before bed, can certainly aid some kind of muscle relaxation and release of tension, essential for our bodies to feel safe enough to fall asleep. I love using organic lavender oil mixed with coconut oil and epsom salts, added to my bath water. Mmmmm…perfect for my babies’ bath, too.
- eat well. And if you think you’ve been eating well, eat even better. Lockdown socials have been full of ‘hilarious’ memes describing how, if you haven’t put on 3 stone and now have an alcohol issue, you haven’t been doing lockdown right. Hmmmmmph (slaps forehead with hand). I know I’m unhappy with my own deterioration of my diet – I know I’ve been drinking more wine than makes me feel good, and that I’ve been justifying extra daily biscuits because “we’re in a global emergency!” This does not a happy Lu make, so, things must change for me. Less refined sugar, less alcohol, less caffeine, all of which can increase cortisol (cue that racing night time heart beat) and potentially suppress our delicate female hormones – likewise wreaking havoc with our feeling of being in balance. Stressed bodies like more healthy fats, more complex carbohydrates, more flaxseed, more soya, more lean protein, and oodles of vegetables.
- breath practice – have you ever tried counting your breath at night? There is a technique of ‘4 – 7 – 8’ where you breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, then breathe out long and slow for a count of 8. Repeat for a few minutes and you should be able to feel some subtle effects. It utilises the parasympathetic nervous system, the one which tells your body that all is well, the one that calms and soothes. This practice has worked wonders for me, on certain nights.
- don’t pin all your hopes on your plans. Think about how there are a gazillion perfect coincidences that need to transpire in order to get you, even in the ‘usual’ world, to meet a friend for coffee. Think about it! Indeed, how does anything ever happen?! That seamless tick-tocking of the universe, and all its billions of inhabitants. We are truly within a web. And we have never been more aware of that web, that community, this inter-connection of the people, than right now. Plans can be loose, and maybe they should be more so, after this.
- And probably my most used tip, the one which I come back to time and time again when all of the above doesn’t help…make peace with the fact that you aren’t sleeping. Simply rest. A wonderful nurse friend once told me that lying down and relaxing your body, closing your eyes and easing your muscles, even without flicking that switch into sleep, is beautifully restorative for many of the body’s healing processes. It’s the next best thing. You will sleep again, but maybe tonight isn’t that night. You’ve got through this before and you will continue to get through it.
Above all else, if it is the current global pandemic that is keeping you up at night, know that this weird situation won’t last. Take courage in the fact that so many have stepped up, and thought outside the box, reconfigured their lives, their businesses, their priorities. We have all felt as though we are balancing on a knife edge…but we are still here, and we are thankful for that, and we count ourselves lucky. A little practice in gratitude for what’s good, together with a sprinkling of the above tips, will go a long way. Go to bed with a smile on your face…
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With love for a peaceful night, tonight and always,