Have you ever sought professional help for a problem, only to find it not very helpful? This is something I certainly ran into when trying to lose weight and change my eating, which is why I found my own way by paying attention to my body and acting on what it told me.
You might think having done this would make it easier for me to take the same approach to reducing stress in my life and figuring out how to sleep better, but it really hasn’t.
The problem is that the promise of a quick fix, a pill or surgery or specific diet, is so seductive. It seems so easy. Who wouldn’t want a simple, fast solution to their problems? The tricky part is, those fixes are often ineffective, or what works for one person doesn’t work for another.
I know all this, and yet when I found out my cortisol levels were out of whack, which could be causing my hormonal and bone density issues, I initially relied on the supplements my NP suggested to make a difference. I had heard stories of other people who miraculously felt better in as little as a week – but that didn’t happen for me.
Now, three months later, I’m realizing I need to forget about expecting the supplements to take care of everything. Instead, I had to be honest with myself. I know what I need to do to reduce stress and help me sleep better and have more energy. But it’s not simple, so I’ve been resisting it, except now I realize I simply have to do it, if I want things to improve.
So far, this is what I know works for me:
Giving myself enough time so I don’t have to rush, especially in the morning, while also reminding myself that being a couple of minutes late is rarely a major issue – and when it is, to build in extra time so I’m not late
Giving my brain some down time, both in the morning and right before going to sleep
Moving mindfully and in ways I enjoy
Making time in my day for music and a little singing
Recognizing that, on a daily basis (or close to) I need to stretch and use my TheraCane and tennis balls to work out knots in my back, shoulders, and neck
Not taking on more than I can reasonably do in a day
Eating just enough in the evening so I’m not hungry but also not overfull, since either will cause sleep issues
Making time for journaling but also creative writing
Getting outside and enjoying nature, or watching it from inside if it’s too nasty outside
Being grateful for the many, many blessings in my life
Finding opportunities for laughter, joy, and happiness
Being open to the beauty around me
Connecting with others in a meaningful way
Focusing on what I like instead of dislike
Cuddling with the kitties
Of course, all of these things take time, and making sure I’m consistent about it means not doing some other things that I might like to. But I’ve also recognized that I can’t do everything I’m interested in anyway, and trying to push myself too much will only mean I don’t enjoy anything, since I’m too worried about everything else going on.
I’ve just started the process of trying to make these changes in my daily life, and I’m certainly far from perfect at it. I don’t expect to ever be fully perfect, but I hope to keep moving in the right direction. And maybe, as with changing my relationship to food, finding my own way will ultimately yield the results I want, which is to live as fully and joyfully as possible.