Good morning! How did you sleep? My son is always very concerned with how everyone’s sleep was. This morning I will tell him it was fine. But the truth is, I did not have a restful night at all. I went to bed later than usual after having to do laundry – which I love – after my cat peed in the kids’ laundry basket. I am not sure why. Maybe their clothes smelled like the dogs from the kids’ other home. Maybe he was angry because I have spent my weekend paying attention to them and not as much to him. Either way, it ended in a late night laundry session.
And then I crawled into bed and was just about to drift off when…BAM, roll, stomp, stomp, stomp, BANG, quick stomp, stomp, stomp… My neighbours above me have a young child who, I believe, is nocturnal. Every night the olympics are held in my upstairs neighbour’s apartment. Last night, though, the olympics were shut down by the sweetest sound…angry mama voice.
All this has me thinking about the things that are keeping us from finding rest. There are so many things we are worrying about and thinking about and wondering about. And while it is, I think, natural to worry and think and wonder all the time, this is particularly true right now during a global pandemic. We worry about whether we are giving our kids enough of our time during distance learning while still trying to work from home. We think about the things we need to do on the weekend, but are not sure we are able to navigate the click-and-collect world we now live in. We wonder what kind of world we are going to be entering once this crisis ends. There are many things.
At the same time we are told that adequate sleep and getting enough rest is important to both our physical and mental health. I am finding it difficult to get enough rest and to have a restful night of sleep. I know the importance of good sleep for me. I know that there are aspects of my mental illness that are triggered by not getting enough sleep and I have worked really hard to make sure I am managing my health so I don’t want to lose that.
Here are some things I have found to be helpful:
Many of us, myself included, are working from home. While there are certain aspects of working from home that are appealing (like no commute), there are some drawbacks. One of those drawbacks is that it is much harder to disconnect from work to find restful, recreational or restorative time. We are on all the time. We can not close our office door, jump in the car and make the trip away from work and toward home. In my job I have always needed to be available to a certain extent when I am at home. But now my office is my dining room and I am always here. It may be helpful to implement some sort of ritual that signals to our brain and body that we are not longer “at work” and that it is okay to rest. For me, that ritual is the closing of my planner. I write down all the things I need or want to get accomplished each day, including meetings, forms that need to be filled out, people I want to check in with. At the end of my workday – which I have to admit has started earlier and goes later than my workday did when I worked in my school – I look at what I have accomplished that day and I close my planner. It signals to my brain that I can relax a little. Now, it doesn’t mean that work ends. People still call or email but I get to choose whether or not I respond.
Taking a nap is okay. Naps are not just for children. Sometimes we need that 30 minutes or an hour to reset.
Good bedtime routines are key. I was prescribed medication to help me sleep after a particularly disturbing episode I had a while back. It was triggered by not sleeping. I don’t like to take it because it makes me feel groggy and weak when I do. So, I consulted people and found a sleep routine that works for me most of the time. Most nights (not last night, I admit) I turn off my TV an hour before I want to go to sleep. I take a hot bath, which relaxes the body. Also, sitting or lying in warm water triggers feelings of safety in the brain. I drink a hot cup of tea while listening to calm music. I diffuse some oils – I find Frankincense and Lavender are a good combination these days.
We all need sleep. Sleep heals. Sleep helps us make sense of what happens when we are awake. We need time to rest, to renew, to restore. When we deny ourselves rest we are denying ourselves the opportunity to be at our best during our waking hours. And during this time of added stress and worry and change, we need rest more than ever.
If you are struggling to get adequate sleep or you spend your resting hours worrying about what is happening in the world, consider talking to someone about it. There is strength in asking for help. Not sure who to call? Let me know and I can help connect you to a therapist or counsellor. Contact your EAP provider. Or call your doctor. Don’t suffer another day. You are not alone.
I hope you had a good sleep last night. I hope this Sunday is a true day of rest for you. We all need leisure time, even in a pandemic. So get out and enjoy this day.
Stay healthy, my friends. Stay home. Reach out. Be well.