Friday, February 19, 2010

Tips for better sleep

As stated in a previous post stress has a tremendous impact on your quality of life.

Here are some practical tips I’ve shared with people who want to fall asleep more quickly and improve the quality of their rest:

  • Figure out how much sleep you need. This may seem obvious, but most people don’t sleep enough. The average adult needs between 7 and 8 hours of sleep. Find your body’s preferred amount, and make that the priority (not the activities that are taking its place). Then set yourself a firm time to get to bed.
  • Account for your pre-sleep routine. Most people have between a 15-30 minute routine of things they do before head. The problem is that this time often isn’t accounted for.
  • No TV or computer at least 30 minutes before bed. The problem is that TVs and monitors are active light sources (things that emit light). Our bodies are wired to stay extra-alert when looking at an active light source because it usually meant danger.
  • Dim the lights. Installing a dimmer switch for your bedroom’s lights or a low-wattage bulb for the lamp near your bed will remind your body that it’s time to relax.
  • Reading or listen to something calming. No drama, thrillers, that you can’t put down. No fast beats with engrossing lyrics. Pre-bed time is for winding down; you’re better off reading or listening to something that maintains your interest for about 7 minutes (2-3 pages). That's just enough time to stop thinking about your day and drift away.
  • Keep a pad of paper by the bed. If your mind starts racing anyway, use your pad to write down the thoughts as they come in. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation. Just write. As the words come out, they’ll stay stuck in the page and you’ll be able to unwind. If you don’t they’ll stay stuck in your head and your mind will race trying to remember them for the morning. You’re better off being able to jot them down right away. As a bonus, the physical action of writing can also be tiring.
Remember, you'll sleep better as long as you do one of the above tips. Please don't try to incorporate all of them at once. For best results, pick the tip that most appeals to you then do it for 21 days in a row to ingrain it into your routine before you add another technique.

Have a tip or technique that helps with your own sleep? Please share it in a comment!

(Note: the picture is of me taking a nap in Patagonia back in 2000. My days were packed with rich experiences and I basically had no access to electronic devices. I have never slept so consistently well.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Overcoming obstacles, hindrances, and the like

I recently brought up an ambitious project with someone close to me. The immediate response was was, "you can't do that."

Two things came up for me:
1) I don't like hearing that I can't do something.
I prefer to explore all the options before believing a term as definite as "can't". Maybe it's the hours I've spent playing Freecell, trying to find my way out of an unpleasant layout.

In any case, I'd much rather determine for myself that I'm in a dead-end than accept the opinion of someone with equally limited information.

2) Of course I can; I just don't know how

I really enjoy coming up with creative solutions to problems - it's one of my strengths (and yours too! If you can imagine why something won't work, you can imagine why it will).

So what's the course of action? Instead of arguing "can vs. can't" shift the conversation to "How can I?"

Check out page 97 of The Gift of Stress for more on how to Change the Questions You Ask Yourself.

Friday, February 12, 2010

One for the broken hearted

My favorite dying line of a movie ...
Harold: I love you.
Maude: Harold... that's wonderful. Go and love some more.
So often we get caught up in the unknown of what will happen after what we're used to ends. That unknown is scary. There's more to the story than we can see at such dramatic times.
You mean the story goes on? I have to love again? But it won't be the same!!


Everything changes and evolves.

UpI hope you've seen the movie Up. If not, I'm not giving much away when I tell you that the growth depicted of the kid-->old man's love for his friend-->wife is so moving that when I saw it half the audience was in tears. It's a glorious relationship.

But It's when he takes the leap and allows himself to love the scout and bird that he's finally open to the next chapter of his life. And since he's alive, he might as well live. So he makes active choices to decide what he's going to do and who he wants to join him for that part of the journey.

What's the next chapter of your life? What do you want to do?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Confusing stress with motivation

Do you use tension as a motivator? A lot of people put themselves in situations where they feel pressure to finish a project. The problem is that we start making an association that without stress you're not going to do anything.

This is just not true. Once you're doing something you actually find interesting and appealing you the action to follow through comes naturally. The activity actually becomes a labor of love... like eating ice cream.

How much pressure and "motivation" do you need to go to the freezer and set yourself up with a serving of your favorite flavor? I'd say it's pretty effortless - just something within you that gets you up and acting.

The trick is finding that same connection in whatever you've been using stress for.

More on stressless motivation can be found on page 42 in The Gift of Stress.