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It’s Stress awareness month and I think it’s important if we just stop for a second and take note of the horrible impact stress has on our lives. Right, ready to continue? Good, stress can be important for change and drive but when it reaches a level that is not manageable then, that’s when you need to stop for a minute and evaluate things. So what small changes can you make that will really help?

 

1.Mange your own expectations

 

Expectations is often what drives our stress levels up. This could be us expecting to get a job promotion by a certain date.  It could be expectations to deliver vast quantities of work by a certain deadline or it could even be hitting personal targets you have set.  Take a moment and step back to evaluate what is making you stressed. Ask yourself how much of this, is really in my control? Ask yourself, what can I realistically achieve in this time period?  Once you have established that then begin to manage your own personal expectations better. After that manage the expectations of those around you. Talk to those who are affected by the outcome of your goal and let them know how things are going and how you feel.

 

2. Learn how to relax

 

This may sound relatively simple but you would be surprised how many people struggle to relax when they are stressed. You have probably heard alot about meditation and mindfulness? It’s not just a fad that is on trend, it actually has scientific evidence behind it. So give it a go.

Also find other things that relax you which allow you focus on that activity alone and allow you to be free from intrusive stressful thoughts This could be playing sport, painting, playing an instrument. Try a few things out.

3. Look after your body

 

Now when I say this I mean think about the food you are eating when you are stressed and the level of sleep you get. So when we are stressed we tend to stress eat. Popping out for a muffin from M&S at lunch? or maybe it’s shoving down a galaxy bar and a packet of crisp for dinner because you’re going to be home to late to cook.  Get on those quick health meals – make your lunch the night before. Develop a sleep schedule and stick to it. Make sure you’re going to bed at the same each night and have a relaxing routine before bed. Sleep is often the thing that is most affected when we are stressed but the thing we most need when we are stressed to help us operate.

 

 

 

Struggling to keep your eyes open at work? Been super moany and snappy at friends and family? Maybe things are just too hectic right now and it’s really impacting your sleep and ultimately your life.  Those who are stressed often end up having less sleep. If you’re an entrepreneur or a side hustler you will likely have a great deal of stress as you try and make your dreams become a reality. Then poor sleeping habits simply become a bad routine.  63.1% of people in the UK surveyed by Dreams were not happy with their quality of sleep.

So what can you do about it? I am not here to remind you that you are not having a great nights sleep. You know that. What I can tell you is what you can do to improve your sleep and hopefully reduce your stress. Now I am not a sleep dr but I get a good night’s sleep so maybe I am an experienced sleeper. All the advice below has been taken from a number of sources which you can read more about. Read below on how to have a Good Night’s Sleep.

 

Stick To A Sleep Schedule

At the moment you may only be going to sleep when you can- after that presentation you have to write, or when the coffee buzz has finally left your system.

Your body clock is what helps you sleep and sticking to your sleeping schedule will in turn help that. So, this might mean going to bed at 11pm every night. Now of course life will mean that you want to go out some nights and are not getting home till 2am or maybe you’ve got to travel somewhere and need to be up at 5am. But generally speaking try and stick to this schedule even on weekends. I found going to bed at a very similar time and getting up at a similar time on weekends made that Monday morning so much easier.

If you are currently going to bed at a crazy hour like 1am and you want to bring that bedtime to something more reasonable then start adjusting slowly, like you would if you were adjusting your body clock for a new time zone before you go on holiday to avoid jet lag (bit dramatic but you get what I’m saying). Try it for a good night’s sleep.

Read more on sleep scheduling here

 

 

Get A Bedtime Routine Together

Now some people relax in different ways. I personally choose to have a bath about 1-2 hours before bed to start relaxing me for bedtime. A routine I started as a child and continue to do today…. It hasn’t failed me yet. Others like watching a chilled out tv show, some like to read; whatever you find relaxing start doing that before you go to sleep.  Research has shown that adult’s bedtime routines for calming them before bed are just as important as children’s ones.

Some tips for you:

  • Avoid watching that thriller or tense drama before bed on Netflix as you will likely be thinking about that as you try and get to sleep.
  • A lot of people and articles I have read recommend not having caffeine before bed. ( I personally, find this doesn’t affect me and will always have a cup of tea after dinner- find what works for you ).
  • Start to reduce the light around you- switch off the glaring lights and turn on a couple of lamps.

Read more here

Photo by: Jacek Dylag

Exercise And Eating For A Good Night’s Sleep

It’s not the first time you have heard that exercise helps your life! Move the coffee table back and start doing some home workouts tonight. Physical exercise increases the time spent in deep sleep, which as you may be aware helps boost your immune system, cardiac health and control stress and anxiety (The sleep doctor).  This could be simply a home workout or a regular team sport you play after work. Try it for a month and see if you notice an improvement.

Now eating habits? There are mixed opinions on this. However, you should try and eat a few hours before bed to avoid sleeping on a very full stomach. Your body will be fast at work digesting your food and won’t be able to focus on your immune system . However there is conflicting evidence, so feel free to read more here.

Photo Andrew Tanglao

Cover Photo: Jay Wennington