Just a few sleeps till Christmas … though I feel like I’m not getting much shut-eye at all.
I can’t say it’s the excitement of festivities (freelancers have few/no parties – boohoo), or worry that I’ve forgotten something (pretty sorted on gifts/travel plans).
But it is a mixture of these butterfly belly feelings.
My mind is excitedly buzzing with creative ideas or to-do-lists, to the point where I start writing emails, blogs, social posts in my head in the middle of night. Not good!
Or … I am in a state of anxiety, fearing financial and career Armageddon that will only be eased by doing complex sums (any for me) at 3am.
This is the kind of fear you only get in the dead of night.
But this time of year, in particular, does tend to invoke a ‘monkey mind’ as our thoughts jump about from one task to another that must be done before the holidays. Or for some it can be the dread of Christmas.
Here are a few things I do to curb middle-of-the-night madness (one of them normally works for me):
+ Breathe – always a good idea. I mean focus your attention on the breath either at the nostrils or within the body as a whole. Sometimes, I go to sleep with my hands on my belly, feeling the breath there.
+ Relax the body – yeah, easier said than done when you’re tossing and turning. But doing a body scan, relaxing each part of the body in turn can be really effective (find a yoga nidra recording online). If that doesn’t work I find the next one often does …
+ Release tension in the face – This is within a yoga nidra but I sometimes do this separately as it works for me. Basically, with the eyes softly closed, remove any expression from your face, slightly part the lips and breathe.
+ Duvet/pillow between the legs – if you’re really uncomfortable, then lying on your side with the knees tucked into the chest (foetal position) can help. Tuck the duvet or a pillow between the thighs to stack the hips which helps to relax you.
+ Pillow/blanket rolled up under knees – lie on your back and place a pillow/blanket under the knees. This is good for lower back problems and allows the legs to release and relax.
If these don’t work, maybe just count your breath or how many sleeps till Christmas – if that’s not too much for you.
Or sign up for a meditation course to boost your middle-of-the-night mindfulness. I’ll be running some more courses soon.