Sleep is, and has always been, one of my favorite things to do. It is something I look forward to. I yearn for it. My bed provides me a form of comfort and security like nothing else in this world. It is a place where I can truly relax and let all my worries drift away. I enter a state of peace and serenity that I’ve yet to find when I am awake. When I wake up feeling refreshed and restored, I feel like I can conquer the world.
How do I reach this blissful state on a daily basis? Well, not without setting the scene first. Comfort is huge. We all know how hard it can be to really relax when we aren’t comfortable. Invest in soft sheets, good quality pillows, and replace your mattress when it needs it. I just recently bought a “My Pillow,” which claims that it is the ‘most comfortable pillow you’ll ever own.’ Well, let me tell you….it is absolutely true! I never wake up with stiff shoulders or a stiff neck anymore. It gives me just the right amount of fluff and firm, and never loses it’s shape.
Now, let’s talk lighting. If you prefer a dark environment, I would suggest having blackout shades or blinds on your windows. I don’t mind a little natural light when I sleep, so I like bamboo shades. They block out just enough light so that I don’t feel like I’m in a dungeon. I’m also a big supporter of Himalayan salt lamps. I’ve had one for a few years now, and I love it! They help neutralize positive ions that are given off from our electronics, which are known to disrupt our sleep. The glow that is emitted is very calming and mimics the warm glow of a campfire.
And lastly, noise is a big factor. I find it a lot easier to fall asleep and stay asleep if I have some white noise in the background. I prefer the low hum of a fan. I also get very hot when I sleep, so the light breeze helps keep me from feeling stuffy when I wake up. Another great option is a sound machine or music from a cell phone. Play around with sounds that soothe you, such as rain, thunder, or ocean waves. Listen to meditative music with different frequencies, as well. I recommend 432 Hz or 528 Hz. These frequencies can be very soothing and healing. They also help keep me focused on the music, instead of the thoughts of my sometimes busy mind. And one last sleep aid I highly recommend is “Sleeping Tapes” from the great mind of Jeff Bridges. Seriously, check it out…..The Dude knows sleep.
We’ve all heard the term seasonal depression, right? And what comes to mind when we hear this? Gray skies, freezing temperatures, mountains of snow….yes, I’m talking about Winter! As I’m sure many of you can relate, I have also been afflicted with seasonal depression during the summer months.
So, what would cause a person to feel depressed when the sun is shining, the skies are blue, and the birds are singing? For me, it has always been the expectation to get out and do things BECAUSE the weather is warm. I start to feel guilty when it’s a beautiful day and I don’t have the motivation to do anything productive. And for someone like myself, who tends to be a homebody, I don’t like to always have a full social calendar. I sit home far too often when I know I should be making plans and meeting new people. As summer starts to come to an end, my depressed mood starts to really set in. I feel the crispness in the air and see the leaves starting to change colors and a sudden wave of sadness rushes over me. The carefree days of summer are over and the cold weather is near. I look back on my summer days and nights and feel like I didn’t do enough. I start to compare myself to others’ and their summer adventures.
Whether you suffer from seasonal depression or just depression in general, my advice is this….STAY ACTIVE! I know it can be very difficult to get moving some days and muster up the energy, but exercise is key. I’ve found that when I start to feel down, doing something as simple as taking a walk can really help. Even if it’s just a walk around your own backyard, or down to the corner. You’ll get your heart pumping and the fresh air will be invigorating. Get in the habit of doing something productive on a daily basis. Know yourself and your limits. Don’t compare yourself to others, love you for you. I’ve found that these simple steps have helped me stay mentally and physically balanced and ready to take on whatever life (and Mother Nature) throw at me!
Let’s talk sleep. How much sleep should a person get? Well, the answer is simple….listen to your body! When you wake up, do you feel refreshed and alert? Do you wake up without hitting your “snooze” button several times? If the answer is no, then chances are you need more sleep! Now I know that life happens, and it’s not always this easy to ignore priorities and go back to bed. Soccer games, dance recitals, and appointments can get in the way, but making sleep a priority is such an important factor in our mental health. We all know how we feel when we are sleep deprived….we are cranky, we feel “foggy” and have a hard time concentrating, we lack patience and motivation, and the list goes on and on. I never felt like I got enough sleep when I worked days. I would get home from work, make dinner, and then watch TV and mindlessly explore the world of social media. As silly as it sounds, I would stay up later than I should’ve because I felt like I was going to miss something. I would wake up groggy and feel rushed to make it to work on time. Then I started working third shift and it changed my world. I loved the feeling of operating when the rest of the world was quiet. I had more time for sleep and reflection. Find what works for you and run with it. Let me offer a little advice for whatever your sleep schedule is; silence your phones, turn off your TV, close your blinds. The world will be waiting for you when you awake. Lay back, relax, take some deep breaths, and allow your mind to wander. Close your eyes and enjoy the moment. Know yourself and establish a routine before bed to ensure that you are getting the rest and rejuvenation your body and mind need to stay sharp!