10 Ways to Bring Calm & Serenity to Your Bedtime

“Come to Me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”

– Matthew 11:28

Day 298.

12:45 a.m.

“For – the – love!” I thought to myself. As I lied in bed, wide awake, I suddenly recollected the load of laundry I began earlier in the evening. I started the wash once dinner had ended, and prior to putting my children to bed. My plan was to transfer the wet clothing from the washer to the dryer. Instead, I found myself caught up in spending the remainder of my evening with my husband, as I always happily do.

I began to silently chide myself, thinking, “Now I have to rewash them in vinegar, rinse them and wash them again!” Mere seconds passed and my thoughts shifted from the unfinished laundry to what I was going to feed my family tomorrow night for dinner. Then to my children’s Night-time Routine, Did they do it?! Do they have clothes picked out for tomorrow?

I need to remember to remind my son’s teacher about his appointment this week…”

“I forgot to get my Aunt’s birthday card in the mail… I’ll mail it out tomorrow!”

“I need to schedule a time to get together with my friend… hopefully, she doesn’t feel that I’ve forgotten about her!”

“Did I lock the car before going to bed?”

I can openly admit that, at times, I can be a control freak! I want control over every avenue of my life, and I find comfort in knowing what is to come. When I forget about certain things that need caring for, I begin to feel anxiety, stress… and worry. It is in these moments that I try to remind myself how truly unhealthy this pattern of behavior can be. Why? Because I know that my incessant need for control causes unhealthy emotional turmoil, and I know that it can lead to insomnia.

In the early 1980’s Phycologist, Thomas Borkovec of Pensylvania State University began investigative studies on worry, and sleep disorders.  Soon he discovered that worry was a major contributing factor in insomnia.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, chronic worry affects 2 to 3 percent of people in the United States.

According to Borkovec, there are 3 components to worry:

  • Overthinking
  • Avoiding Negative Outcomes
  • Inhibition of Emotions

Worry piggybacks on humans’ innate tendency to think about the future: “they crave control.”

(http://anxietyreliefsolutions.com/why-we-worry/)

So how does all of this play into our bedtime? Stress/Overthinking/Worry keeps our minds in an active state, and it can lead to both emotional and mental distress. We begin to focus on the negative aspects of our lives and our shortcomings. As for myself, I attempt to find healthy coping mechanisms! However, others may find negative ones such as alcohol, food or other unhealthy addictive substances. Many of which can inhibit a good nights sleep.

How does alcohol affect your sleep?

  • More frequent need to get up and go to the bathroom, especially during the second half of the night
  • Increased risk for parasomnias including sleepwalking and sleep eating
  • Greater risk for snoring and sleep-disordered breathing. Alcohol can lead to excessive relaxation of the muscles in the head, neck, and throat, which may interfere with normal breathing during sleep.
  • Alcohol consumption can trigger new sleep disorders or exacerbate existing ones, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea

(https://www.thesleepdoctor.com/2017/11/15/truth-alcohol-sleep/)

How does overeating affect your sleep?

  • Insomnia Issues
    Certain foods and beverages act as stimulants that force your body into digestive mode as you’re trying to revert to sleep mode. Caffeine is an obvious culprit, but so are proteins and foods packed with MSG, which behaves as a stimulant too.
    Avoid meat, chocolate, Chinese food, colas, coffee, and tea.
  • Heartburn Discomfort
    You might never contend with acid reflux problems during the day. This is because the force of gravity is working with you as you sit or stand while digesting food. But eat and lie down and acid in your stomach can leak into your esophagus, causing reflux that makes you feel the burn – and keeps you awake way past your bedtime.
    Avoid spicy foods such as peppers and chilies and drinks that are highly acidic, such as cranberry, grapefruit and orange juice.
  • Digestive Pain
    You’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to avoid eating at least three hours before going to bed. This is because it takes the stomach at least this long to empty itself. Consuming certain foods and beverages can make the process lengthier and more arduous, especially if you’re lactose-intolerant and have trouble digesting dairy products. This said many people swear that a late-night glass of warm milk helps them sleep. There is some medical reinforcement to support this belief since milk contains tryptophan – the same chemical found in turkey. It is known to make many people sleepy, especially after a Thanksgiving dinner.
    Avoid dairy products if you’re lactose-intolerant – including cheese, yogurt and ice cream – greasy foods and those that are high in fat, such as butter and peanuts.
  • Bathroom Runs
    You might not notice the effects of diuretics during the day, either. But this is probably because you’re on the go and don’t mind having “to go” in the course of a busy day. But eat certain water-laden foods late at night and you’re likely to spend more time running to the bathroom than counting sheep.
    Avoid asparagus, beets, cabbage, celery, cranberries, cucumbers, garlic, parsley, and watermelon.
  • Weight Gain Risk
    Many health experts say that eating anything late at night is counterproductive to a good night’s sleep and good health in general since you’re depriving your body of the ability to burn off calories. But confine the argument to carbohydrates, which can quickly lead to fat and weight gain. Even 8 ounces of pasta can contain about 300 calories and consist of nearly 80 percent carbohydrates.
    Avoid foods with high-carb content, especially pasta and pizza.

(https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/negative-effects-eating-before-bed-3027.html)

How does blue light exposure affect your sleep?

Computers, televisions, and phones all emit a blue light that we are constantly being bombarded with during the day. What you may not know is that our electronic devices act as a stimulant, much like caffeine in coffee or other sugary foods. These seemingly harmless screens disrupt the production of melatonin and throw off our circadian rhythm. They keep us awake!

SO… How can you ward off insomnia and bring calm and serenity to your bedtime?

#1. Surround Yourself in Darkness

Before turning in for the night, ensure that your blinds are closed and any unnecessary lights are turned off. This will help signal to our bodies that it is truly time for rest.

#2. Keep Your Room Silent

If possible, try to sleep without any noise. Find noise-canceling headphones or earplugs.

#3. Hypnosis

One of my favorite apps on my phone is JC Free Hypnosis! The first few hypnosis tracks are free, and the others, IMO, are worth the buy. As you listen to the tracks, the coach will also lead you in deep breathing exercises. If hypnosis is not your thing, try listening to soft classical music, or even nature sounds to help lull you into a deep, restful nights sleep.

#4. 4-7-8 Breathing

Pioneered by Dr. Andrew Weil, 4-7-8 breathing is one of the simplest yet most effective tools you can use to access instant calm. Simply inhale through your nose for a count of 4, gently hold this breath for 7 counts and exhale slowly for another count of 8. This lowers cortisol levels and helps bring both calm and serenity.

#5. Avoid Looking At Screens

Remember the blue light we discussed earlier on? If at all possible, avoid looking at any screens before bedtime. Remember, they act as a stimulant!

#6. Keep Your Room Clean

If you are anything like me, a disorganized home makes for a disorganized mind. Your bedroom should be your sanctuary, a place where you can escape and find serenity. When your room is in a state of chaos, you are more likely to find yourself contemplating how to tackle that mess come morning instead of sleeping.

#7. Lower the Bedroom Temperature

Our core body temperature decreases naturally as we begin to fall asleep. If the room is too warm you will more than likely have a difficult time relaxing and finding that peaceful sleep you are so desiring.

#8. Shut Your Mind Down

More often than not when we turn in for the night, our minds turn on. If you find yourself reminiscing over the events of your day or things undone… STOP! Tell yourself, “This is neither the time nor the place!” Close your eyes, and focus not on your thoughts but on your breathing. This is a simple step that has aided me quite well over the years in falling asleep.

#9. Avoid Unhealthy Consumptions

Create a cutoff time, after 7:00 or 8:00 you can no longer have anything to eat or drink. This includes alcohol or snacks of any kind. This will aid in preventing any future issues such as bathroom visits, bloated feelings or heartburn during the night.

#10. Natural Sleepaid

Certain supplements can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. They encourage sleep either by boosting the production of sleep-promoting hormones or by calming brain activity.

Magnesium. Magnesium helps activate the neurotransmitters responsible for sleep.

Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, but it can also be taken as a supplement to help regulate your sleep.

Theanine. Theanine is an amino acid with sedative properties. Although it has not been shown to induce sleep, it could help with relaxation.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is a compound produced in the brain that inhibits certain transmitters and may help the central nervous system relax.


So here is the bottom line, our health is so important and if we are not ensured a good nights sleep, then our health will begin to wain. We have but only this one body, this one mind, and this one soul… we must protect it with our very lives!

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

  • Matthew 6:34

10 Ways to Reduce Stress From Your Life

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Day 122.

As I stood in the walkway between our kitchen and living room, I watched helplessly as my eight-year-old, high-functioning, autistic son had another melt-down. What had triggered this melt-down I can’t recall, but what I did know is that things were quickly beginning to escalate!

This beautiful, lovingly little boy was currently waging a war within himself, fighting to control the crashing tide of emotions that assaulted him. He threw himself to the ground; contorting his limbs and eliciting a sound that I simply cannot put into words. His brow furrowed in seeming anger, and a look of hopelessness quickly splayed across his face. His crystal-blue eyes began to fill with tears; I felt my own chest tighten and a knot formed in my throat… my strong reserve was beginning to crumble.

I fell to my knees, gathering my son into my arms, “Shhh…” I said, “take a deep breath… in your nose and out your mouth!” As I attempted to wrap my arms around him, he fought me, springing back with force. He threw his head back and howled, “it doesn’t work!” If I were to describe the current scene, I would say that I looked like Steve Irwin, attempting to wrestle a crocodile!

After what seemed like an eternity, he relented. “I’m just stupid… I’m a piece of crap!” He said. His words were scarcely audible as he softly sobbed into my chest, desperately attempting to catch his breath. Upon hearing my sons words, I swallowed thickly. “You are NOT stupid, and you are NOT a piece of crap! You are an incredible little boy… God loves you and so do we!” I said, placing a light kiss upon his temple.

Needless to say, this entire situation was incredibly stressful, and one we face as a family on a regular basis. Life is not easy, and no one ever promised it would be.

Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.

– Ronald Regan

Each day we are faced with different circumstances, some of them soothing and some of them stressful. What is so vitally important is how we choose to handle those circumstances.

Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.

Buddha

I am not only a mother but I am also a wife and if any of you are married or have children, then you know that it can be a very difficult job. It can also be one of the most rewarding! I have three children, my step-son Aaron who is 11 1/2, my middle son Logan who is 8, and my daughter Kinlee who is 5.

Five years ago Logan was diagnosed with ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder or Aspergers Syndrom. When we first received word of his diagnosis, both my husband and I were devastated. We had no words… and no direction in which to go! For so long, we buried our heads in the sand, hoping his diagnosis would simply vanish. We were distraught, and truth be told, we were not handing our stress or the situation appropriately. We needed to allow the emotions that we had buried to surface. We went through a period of anger, grief, mourning, empathy, and sorrow. These emotions were all normal and needed to be felt, especially if we were going to help our son!

Things are much less stressful now in our household, not because we do not experience stressful situations, but because we have learned how to handle them.

Here are 10 ways we can reduce stress in our life…

#1. Choosing Your Emotional Response 

This can be difficult, especially in the heat of the moment! If you find yourself face to face with a stressful circumstance, take a step back, breathe and ask yourself, “How could I best respond to this situation?

#2. Exercise

Our bodies are created to move, and what better way to combat stress than by going for a bike ride, a nature hike, or a peaceful walk. You don’t have to push yourself to the breaking point, you would be amazed to see what 20 minutes a day can do for you!

#3. Deep Breathing 

Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath as in enters your body, hold it for five seconds and then slowly push that breath out by exhaling through your mouth. This exercise has put a halt to many panic attacks I have experienced in my life.

Through many hours of research and advice given to me by therapists, I have learned how detrimental Cortisol can be to your health. Deep Breathing Exercises can stop that flow of Cortisol!

Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He published his revolutionary findings in a simple seventy-four-line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).

Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of the general adaptation syndrome. Once the alarm to release cortisol has sounded, your body becomes mobilized and ready for action — but there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood, which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

If we do not stop the constant flow of Cortisol in our bodies, it can lead to serious health problems; anxiety, depression, learning and memory problems. It can lower immune functions, cause weight gain, and raise blood pressure. In many cases, continued stress can bring on auto-immune diseases.

#4. Laughter 

I am so thankful for my husband because he is one of the funniest people I know! When I am feeling down or stressed, he almost always knows how to make me laugh. I challenge you, the next time you are stressed, listen to someone/something funny and try not to laugh! 😉

#5. Meditation

I have spent countless hours in meditation, and each moment spent has greatly helped reduce my levels of anxiety and stress. I ensure that wherever I go, that place is peaceful and quiet. I personally choose to reflect on scripture, or on a recent book I have read.

#6. Music

Music is good for everybody. They say it soothes the savage beast. Well, I think theirs a beast in all of us. So let’s get some more music and soothe all the beasts out there.

– B.B. King 

#7. Positive Affirmations

Positive Affirmations can do wonders for the body, mind, and soul! Years ago I began what I called a P.R. Journal (Positive Reinforcement). I did not allow myself to write down anything negative, only positive things that helped uplift and restore me. I as well read aloud what I wrote, and even went as far as to write some specific things on my bathroom mirror.

#8. Relaxation 

One of my favorite things to do when I am feeling stressed is to take a long, hot bath! I dim the lights in the bathroom, turn on soothing music and toss in some of my favorite bath bombs. This truly helps to soak away my stress!

#9. Talking

Keeping things bottled up is not only detrimental to your emotional and physical health, but it can also damage your relationships with others. Find someone you trust, and talk to them about how you are feeling. If you do not feel comfortable with that, you can always reach out to a counselor, either online, through your local church or in your community.

#10. Scripture & Prayer

In times of confusion, stress, sorrow, or worry I have turned to scripture and prayer. In many ways the Bible has become a roadmap, paving out the path in which I should go. Contrary to what my children believe, I do not have all the answers, nor do I claim to! I do however know where to go when in need of comfort and peace…

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28

 

 

Putting Minamalism Into Action

“Imagine a life with less. Less stuff, less clutter, less stress and debt and discontent.”

– The Minimalists

Day 90.

January has come and gone, much like an old, beloved song on the radio. The same goes for many of the items in our home!

I sat on the floor of my son’s room, trash sack in hand, neatly folding his clothes into the bag. Suddenly, I found myself feeling a sense of sentimentality and a sense of loss. “What am I doing?” I thought to myself. “Why am I doing this? I can’t do this!”  I paused, and without thought enshrouded the soft, green pajamas around my face; deeply inhaling my son’s scent. After several long minutes, I realized what had caused the abrupt sense of disquietude.

It felt as though I was throwing away a part of my son! As though I was about to lose something of great importance and value. Suddenly, the simple task of gathering together ill-fitting clothing seemed… difficult. But why?

Oftentimes we hold onto things to fill a certain void in our lives. We tell ourselves, “I simply cannot bring myself to part with this,” or “if I throw this out I’ll be losing a part of that person, or myself, or the memories tied to this item!”

There are copious amounts of reasons as to why people have a difficult time letting go of their belongings:

  • The item(s) hold certain sentimental value
  • We feel guilt over the amount spent on that item, whether we bought it ourselves, or it was gifted to us
  • We worry we may need the item in the near future
  • The item becomes a “someday” item, meaning we tell ourselves, “someday I’m going to become a seamstress and will need all of this fabric!
  • We struggle with an obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • We struggle with hoarding

Based on a scientific study done over a 23-year span by Jack Samuels at John Hopkins University, not all people who have OCD are hoarders. “Now, we know that only one-third of people with OCD exhibit hoarding behavior, that many people without OCD hoard, and we suspect that genes can play a key role in it.

http://archive.magazine.jhu.edu/2011/11/why-can%E2%80%99t-some-people-throw-anything-away/

My reasoning for not wanting to discard my son’s clothing was nary so momentous as someone struggling with hoarding or OCD. Alas, I couldn’t help but feel sharp pangs of guilt weighing heavily upon my heart.

So what do I do now?

“How do I move past these feeling?” 

“Is this ok that I’m feeling this way, should I be feeling this way?” 

I took a deep breath, inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth. I let my eyes fall shut and at that moment, a small giggle heedlessly egressed from my lips. I opened my eyes and said to myself, “it’s just stuff… that’s all it is!” Once I heard these words I repeated them aloud, again… and again… and again.

Everything I was experiencing was perfectly normal, and I’d given myself the few moments required to feel what I was feeling. I knew if I wanted to truly continue on this journey I had begun, I had to be stronger than my emotions. I had to set my emotions to the side and allow logic to play its part. I couldn’t allow the things filling our home to control me.

With a renewed sense of purpose, I took the green pajamas that belonged to my son and plunged them into the large white sack. As an added encouragement I asked myself, “what is it that has brought me to this point?”

  • I had established my goal at the beginning of the year; to live a calm, minimalistic, peaceful life!
  • I am a person who enjoys doing research before diving into anything. I began by watching the documentary on Netflix, The Minimalists.
  • I had the respect and support of my loved ones.
  • I expanded upon my main goal and made it a point to get rid of one unnecessary thing each day.
  • Each time I felt any sort of hesitation to discard something in my home, I paused and closed my eyes. Telling myself and asking myself, “It’s just stuff! Is this something you truly need? Is this something deeply sentimental? Can I live without it?”
  • I made two very strict rules for myself: #1. If I’ve not seen it or used it for 6 months or more, then it needs to go. #2. Once the item is in the bag or box, it cannot come out!
  • And finally, refusing to give up!

Never Give Up Quotes By Famous People The 25+ Best Not Giving Up Quotes Ideas On Pinterest | Love Qotes