Archive | December, 2012

Resolutions

29 Dec

Last night we saw the film This is 40.  It was funny, although a bit long and silly in certain parts.  I’ll see anything with Paul Rudd because he is hilarious and tends to be in decent films.  We went to a local cinema that serves drinks and dinner- a great idea but the food is actually pretty bad and overpriced.  I love the novelty of drinking wine while at the cinema and the ease of not worrying about what to make or where to go for dinner.  But it ends up being a pretty expensive and unsatisfying meal.  So I told my husband this morning that we should just not go there anymore and just head to a regular theater instead, and perhaps have dinner beforehand.  He agreed.

Mr Rudd- so funny! My friend got his autograph in a bar in Athens, Georgia years ago.

This reminds me of part of the movie.  The neurotic wife (played by Leslie Mann) decided to quickly implement some major life changes, with the expectation that it would make everyone happy.  She told her husband (played by Mr. Rudd) that she’d stop smoking, that he had to stop eating cupcakes (for some reason they had cupcakes in their house every day).  Anyway, she decided that they would exercise daily, eliminate all sugar and gluten from their diet, etc.  She also proclaimed that the entire family would reduce the amount of time spend on various electronic devices, much to the chagrin of their teenaged daughter who was obsessively watching all the episodes of Lost (been there, done that, yeah, the ending sucked).

Image

Vincent was my favorite.

Anyway, not to spoil the movie but it didn’t go very well.  The changes didn’t stick and hilarity ensued.  So most of us know- deciding to make sudden and drastic changes, no matter how helpful they can be, just doesn’t really work.  I admit that I’ve set such lofty goals on about 1,000,000 occasions.  Sometimes I am successful, but really looking back, I see clear evidence that for change to be lasting, I have to be bought in, disciplined and it has to happen gradually.  Also, I do not do well with a mindset that feels punitive and punishing, which these fasts, diets and life-changing plans often are.  Instead, I prefer it when the focus on what is helpful and beneficial.  This is also an approach that I promote to my therapy clients.  Be nice to yourself, don’t punish yourself, and the results will tend to be better.

So I’m going to be rolling out a pretty big project for myself for 2013 that is along these lines.  Without the daily structure of a 9-5 job (or, realistically, an 8-6 job) I can be listless and well, lazy.  I yearn for more of a schedule but struggle to stick to one.  I fall behind on things I really need to do and then wonder what the heck I’ve done with my days.  Then I worry about things at 3 am.  Keep in mind I’m not sitting at home doing nothing, I have a business to maintain, and also to build and nurture.  This is exciting, but I am now the boss who sets deadlines and ensures that things happen.   This is not the easiest role for me.

I’ve researched, pondered and had a lot of failed attempts to increase self-discipline and to focus more on things that are healthy and edifying.  When I have been successful in the past, I’ve been overly disciplined, to the point of being rigid.  I’m sure there is a balance to be found and I’m excited to find it.  I’ll take some cues from this movie about what NOT to do also.  And, I’m not going to require that my husband take part on all of the changes I do- this is something I’m doing for myself.

Anyway, stay tuned.  All this is starting with 2013, and I’ve spent all of December gearing up. I’m excited, but nervous!

Do you have any resolutions for the new year?

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Insomnia

16 Dec

There’s a lot to think about at 2:30 am.

Sleep issues have rarely been a thing for me.  For years, my primary issue related to sleep has been sleeping too much and getting way too comfortable with the snooze button.  However, there have been some incidents of sleep difficulties; those were very stressful times.  So lately I haven’t been sleeping well, but the odd thing is that I’m not really stressed out right now.  I am just not sleeping well.  My husband jokes that I wake up at the witching hour each night.  And I do.  I get up and shuffle around the dark house, with my little blind dog padding along behind me, wondering what the heck is going on and if he’s getting his breakfast.  I think about what I did today and what I need to do tomorrow.  I worry about silly things.  I wonder about other things.

I spend a lot of time talking to people about their sleep problems, as I imagine most mental health therapists do.  If a person is stressed out, chances are that their sleeping is affected by it somehow.  So I’ve done research, read articles and given suggestions on what to do to combat sleeping issues.  I’ve been using some of the very techniques I espouse and have found some to be quite helpful.  Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • If awake for more than 15 minutes, get up out of bed.  This is a controversial one.  Some medical professionals recommend that even if you can’t sleep, at least stay in bed to get your rest.  That makes sense to me if you’re taking care of a baby or very sick and really need the rest.  However, if you are stressing about not being able to sleep and tossing and turning in bed, just get up.  This will prevent your bed from eventually becoming a place you associate with stress due to all of the tossing and turning and obsessing over how much sleep you are missing out on.
  • Write down all of the thoughts that are coming up in a notebook. It seems like an endless list of things that are running through the mind at 2:30 am, but chances are it is a handful of things on repeat.  Write them down.  Get them out of your head and onto paper.  Tell yourself I can’t do anything about this right now, but I will tend to these things in the morning.  If the worry thoughts are less in the category of things to do and more in the category of distressing thoughts, then you can rip up the paper after you write it down.
  • Stretch.  I like to start with some vigorous stretches that focus on large movement and aligning movement with breathing, for instance Crescent Pose and also Boat Pose.  Then I slowly bring the energy level down, doing calming poses that I hold for a long time, finally ending in some forward bends like Head to Knee Pose or Forward Stretch and perhaps Plow Pose– stretches that help the central nervous system to slow down.
  • Try progressive muscle relaxation.  Get back in bed and get comfy. Lie on your back and work your way from the feet to the top of the head.  Move from one part of the body upwards, tensing the muscles for several breaths and then relaxing them.  Start with your toes, your feet, your calves, your thighs, etc.  You can repeat this again, starting from the top of your head and then all the way to the tips of your toes.  This helps your body to feel more relaxed, and also has the benefit of keeping your mind focused on the present as it notices the tensing and the relaxing of all of the muscles.  Here are some links to some good exercises you can try: here, here and here.
  • Avoid looking at the computer, at the television or even reading a book.  These are all stimulating activities.  Try to focus instead on activities that are calming and centering.

Here’s what I will try to do prior to bedtime:

  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
  • Do not eat right before bed.
  • Spend a few minutes writing down thoughts or things to do the next day before turning out the lights.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night, get up at the same time each morning.
  • Sleep in a quiet and cool space.
  • Animals can disturb sleep- make them get out of the bed if they’re moving around or taking up too much room.
  • Figure out the the sources of stress and distraction and figure out how to deal with them during the day, rather than at 2:30 am!

So wish me luck with all of this!

Do you have any tips for getting good sleep?