I’ve been on vacation this week, and while I love having a break from work, I miss all the day-to-day activities that keep my mind from obsessing over silly stuff.
I’ve also been working for the last month with a health coach to get my body back to normal. Oddly enough, we have yet to cut out carbs, get heavy into workouts at the gym, or say no to a glass of wine or two. What we have been working on seems simple to most but has proven relatively tricky for me. I want to say I’m further along, but it’s only been thirty days, so I’m giving myself a bit of grace. So, what have we been doing, he and I?
Sleeping. I mean, not together, and more specifically…working on sleeping. I have insomnia and anxiety, and with the lovely addition of a global pandemic, economic crisis, and the unretracted claws of people in general, I’ve been running on little or no sleep for about 1.5 years now. Sometime in mid-June, I realized that my lack of rest was the foundation for all the other challenges. Who has the strength to exercise when you are running on 4 hours of sleep? Who can meal plan and prep when – by the end of a workday – one has changed into pajamas hoping to fall asleep as soon as the clock strikes 5 pm? Not me, that’s for damn sure.
The plan seems simple, but it hasn’t been. Most of it goes against my investigative sense because most of it requires cutting ties with the very things that keep me connected. It wasn’t until I realized that the things that keep me connected also keep me wound up and angsty.
So, what’s been happening? Well, I’m about to tell you, so grab a drink and settle in while I share with you what Adam is helping me through.
1) Turning off all digital electronic devices by 9 pm. Phone, tablet, television….blah blah blah. I even bought an alarm clock because my phone was my alarm for nearly five years. Now, the phone isn’t even in the room with me. I had to let go of the thought that something terrible might happen and I might not know about it. It turns out…something terrible DID happen, I didn’t know about it, and…it didn’t matter. (Gunshots fired in the street right in front of my house, and I slept right through it.) Mind you, people did text me – they were concerned – but I also didn’t get those texts until I turned my phone on around 10 am. I giggled because they weren’t concerned enough to drive over to see if we were okay but then again, my friends and I watch enough true crime to know if anything had happened, next of kin would have been notified, and then details would flow out into the media. None of that occurred, because, well, it was just another night here in Springfield, MO: Shots fired. No one knows a thing. The media doesn’t cover it. Everyone goes on. End of story. Like I said, just another day in the Ozarks.
2) No news is good news. I’m already not one to appeal to those who like to discuss ‘current affairs,’ but I haven’t watched the news for months. Sadly, I’m not sure what is going on in Afghanistan – I know something is because the older men discussed it at my son’s barbershop. I didn’t ask questions, though. I don’t want to know. If this makes me a terrible person, I’ll just add “Doesn’t care about current affairs” to the ever-growing list of reasons people don’t like me.
3) Social media detox. I bought a thirty-day workbook on how to conduct a digital detox. Of course, Fakebook was the first to go. I had mixed feelings about that. Not many people have subscribed to my blog, so how will I get the message that a new post is ready? I guess I’ll trust the process. When I hit ‘deactivate’ this morning, I felt almost immediate relief. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve watched so many good people act like complete assholes over everything from masking mandates, back-to-school quagmires, gas prices, and vaccinations. For fuck’s sake, can we go back to doing what Fakebook was designed for in the first place: Posting pictures of our dinner? I still have a FB account, although I have no friends (LOL. As it is online, it is in life.) I have to be able to post in some of the volunteer areas of my life – but that’s all I need it for so I can stay a bit stealthy. Linkedin? I’ll keep it for the learning classes, but I don’t really care about what else is going on outside my four walls at the moment. The less I focus on what is ‘out there’, the less I can focus on the internal work I need to do. Pinterest is about to get the ax, too, which…seems a bit tragic. However, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna save some cash if I’m not constantly looking at perfect homes and well-decorated back yards for hours every week.
4) Meditation, breath work, and restorative and Yin Yoga. These activities, about thirty minutes before bed, prepare my mind for sleep. I have been able to reduce the number of sleep aids I consume, and cutting off digital devices and the ‘noise’ of the outside world helps me settle in. Which, I suppose, is how I managed to sleep through two active rounds from a .45 two nights ago. (I made that up…neighbors reported hearing 9 shots from a gun. Nobody said what kind. But isn’t my version better?)
5) Clearing clutter. (You knew this was coming, right? It’s as though you don’t know me at all). Physical clutter is linked to increased anxiety on so many levels. Decision fatigue, inability to process complex thoughts, and the constant reminder of projects long overdue can wreak havoc on a calm mental state. So yes, I spend my vacation cleaning and organizing. It’s therapeutic to me. I feel better. I sleep better.
So, nothing earth-shattering here, but some things to ponder. I hope one or two of those ideas are helpful to you. Of course, I don’t have all the answers, so you might want to work with a health coach or a therapist. You do you. I’m simply sharing what is working for me. I’m feeling better, which means I’ve found the strength to do things I didn’t think I could do.
In summary, sleep well, friends. I just spent two days by the water, so here’s your song. I wish you well.