It happens to the best of us. No matter how strong your self-esteem and self-belief is, you will have one of those nights that keeps you up, with your mind over thinking about either today’s events or something that is obsessing it with the future.
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Then, there so many others who suffer with terrible anxiety and worry constantly about the future. Sleep is lost and as we lose our ability to sleep, we then start to lose our ability to deal with so many other things in our lives.
Studies are constantly done about how our minds work and why some of us over contemplate more than others. The false belief is that we allow our minds to control us, instead of us learning to control our minds. This technique, called mindfulness, can be used to help us focus on the present, which allows us to stop our mind from going crazy over thinking everything.
What I have found as I age is that my mind or as some call it the “monkey mind” continued to add more contemplation to it and that I had to discover mindfulness techniques to allow myself to control my mind and get a good night sleep.
Here are some techniques I discovered to reduce and in many cases, stop the deliberation completely and sleep soundly.
1. Learn To Breathe
What? You are breathing right, so how can you learn to breathe. I had to be taught this myself. Think about where you are breathing from. For some odd reason, our breathing moves from out of our stomach as a child, which can take in more breath, to our upper chest in adolescence, that has bone blocking deep breathing. One of the first mindful techniques is to learn to focus our breath on our belly for a few minutes several times a day. The extra oxygen is relaxing and the beginning of allowing us to focus our minds again.
2. Practice Meditation
Once you start to learn to breathe, move into meditation. This isn’t some eastern idea, it is the idea of learning to focus your thought on one thing or even nothing. It is a practice and interestingly enough, it is one that can be done in as little as five minutes.
Doing a guided meditation with either skilled meditation professionals or even apps on your tablet or phone work well.
It teaches you to learn to allow your thoughts to float by, instead of dwelling upon it. I use a great app that offers guided meditations that put my focus on what’s being said instead of pondering.
3. Plan Your Time
Most of us, myself included, lead or feel we lead busy lives. So, to stop and actually plan your time and make sure that you plan time for mindful activities as well is another way to help your distracted mind.
In many cases, our minds are thinking about things and if we don’t write them down, they will keep coming back in the way of “oh, I have to get (fill in the blank) done.” Until you write it down, it will just keep staying in your head and coming back again and again. Rumination. I use a simple app on my phone that makes lists and allow me to even put reminders on them. I quickly found that my mind stopped thinking about needing to do it when I did that.
4. Yoga Or Planned Movement
Why does everyone always bring up Yoga? What’s so great about it? This is what I have learned. It is another hour that I spent, in my case, only once a week, where the idea is to practice to focus your mind on clearing and only doing the movement being asked to do. It helps you learn to only think of one item at a time and thus, helps control the over thinking and bring a focus back as an active practice.
5. Gratitude Journal
I personally suggest doing this as you go to bed. Get a journal and write at the top of it, “I Am Thankful For”, and write three things each night. It can be as simple as just living for another day to some wonderful activities you did that day, such as taking a walk or talking to a friend.
I choose to do this at night, because then I focus on the good things of the day at the end, instead of going to bed with my mind thinking of the negatives and pondering too much.
See, we don’t stress about all the great things, our minds are typically dwelling on our fears or anxieties. But, we control our mind, it does not control us. So, putting together some practice techniques that allow you to learn to stop the over thinking not only help you sleep and feel better, but will also make you healthier both psychologically and physiologically.
I have found that I am much calmer, sleep deeper, and feel healthier and happier, just by changing some habits and practicing the five ideas above. So, what do you have to lose?