One in 4 adults struggles with sleep. Sleep is when repair and recovery take place. Without adequate sleep, major health risks like weight gain and heart disease are more prevalent. We asked three leading stress specialists, credentialed by the American Institute of Stress, to share their thoughts and favorite techniques to help us fall asleep and stay asleep.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven,” wrote John Milton in his 1663 poem, “Paradise Lost.” Our thoughts can make sleep a virtual hell or a blissful slumber. It’s 3 a.m. and you’ve been awake for hours. Your anxious, fearful thoughts seem uncontrollable. Memories of past regrets are causing you stress, as are fearful thoughts about your annual job evaluation tomorrow. You’re stressed out. What can you do?
Take control of your thoughts
The key, according to James C. Petersen, Ph.D., FAIS, founder of Stressmaster International, and creator of the Stress Mastery Questionnaire stress test, is to accept the negative thought but take control of what you choose to think about. Thoughts are internal behaviors that are learned and seem automatic. But you are not a slave to your thoughts. They can be changed.
You can’t react to a negative and positive thought at the same time. When a stressful thought pops into your head, you can recall positive memories to replace them. Remember happy events, such as the birth of your child, getting married, or perhaps a good experience with a loved one, to overthrow stress-provoking thoughts. When the fearful thought cycles back, replace it with a positive memory that will relax your mind and body.
Stop negative thinking by focusing on positive “self-talk.” Worried about a job interview? Focus on your skills and talents that make you qualified for the job. Make a habit of refocusing on positive thoughts.
Control your breathing
Cynthia Howard, RN, CNC, Ph.D., FAIS, chief energy officer of E! Leadership, suggests using deliberate breathing techniques to fall asleep. The stress reaction’s primitive survival instinct prepares the body to fight or run away, changing your […]
Read more: stress.org