Are you awake? I know I’m not the only one up at 3 a.m. In fact, the more people I talk to lately, the more I hear that we’re all waking up at odd hours of the night. So, what gives? I don’t know that I have all the answers, but I’m certain it has to do with the stress and pressure we are putting ourselves under in this time of hyper-connectedness. Adults have always had stress and things to worry about, but with the state of our world, our political climate, our workplace demands and our family and personal situations, it seems that the attempt to handle it all means that more of us are waking up at all hours.
As I sit here answering email, working on a presentation, and now taking time to write this, it strikes me that only I can change how I process all the demands. So, my solution is to make a list of things I can do to affect change on my ability to have a long night’s sleep going forward. I’ll share in case you’re in the boat with me:
- Put my health first- I’ll start with my worst habit. I do not take proper care of myself. I noticed this when I realized I needed an oil change and a dental appointment and I prioritized my car’s oil change over my own health needs. CRAZY! So, with that smacking me in the fact, I am turning over a new leaf. I’m learning that as we age, we don’t always have the luxury of putting ourselves last when it comes to our health. My first step this week is to make a list of all the appointments and checkups I need in order to feel good, then prioritize those over home projects, kids’ sports, and even work.
- Prioritize time with my children- This one is simple. I MUST do it. With work and travel, time with teenagers becomes even more precious. I made a commitment to myself, and my children, that I will ensure that each day has priority time for them. This means time where I am not checking my phone, my email, or my social media. Do you do the same? Are you feeling connected to your kids?
- Prioritize work by what needs my action- I’ve written before about ways I’m changing my work habits to more effectively deal with workload. So far, that is working. What I need to do now is ask myself if I am the one who should own the response. Often, emails are addressed to numerous people, then everyone weighs in. Instead of jumping blindly into it, I am going to refocus my response time and only address those issues where I am the best person to reply. Do you have this issue too? How do you handle it?
- Reintroduce meditation- For years, I incorporated meditation into my daily life. I would use an app mid-day at work as a way to clear my head and gain focus for the rest of the day. Then, I would meditate each night with my children as part of our bedtime routine. But, as the children got older and once I started working from home, I somehow gradually began doing it less and less. I think my ability to disconnect has suffered for it. So, starting today, meditation is back in my life. One of my favorite apps is Take A Break. What do you like to use for meditation? Do you find it helpful?
- Write it out- Everyone can be a writer because everyone has thoughts worthy of writing. The sad part is so many people are afraid to write. Maybe putting something in black and white makes it “real” and keeping it in your head allows you to hide it. For me, writing is therapeutic. In fact, I still write daily, I just don’t hit publish on much of it. Why? Because my advice to you is write for yourself. You don’t have to share it with anyone. Sometimes it’s good to put your fears to paper, or blog, as a way to come back and address it later. It’s a nice way to ease the load and get it out of your head. For me the change will be to share more here on the blog, with you. Do you use writing as a way to unwind and unravel your thoughts?
- Tell a friend- If you’re like me, you are a person of many acquaintances and few real friends to confide in. Personally, I like to keep any issues or doubts close to the vest, but I’m changing that. In the past month, I’ve started going to breakfast with a good friend. We have coffee and make small talk, then gradually share more. It’s like an amazing dance where we each tiptoe into the water with what we share. The result is small glimpses of someone who feels much like I do, with many similar stresses and worries. The point of the breakfast isn’t anything more than to connect with someone, but it’s bringing so much joy and value to me, and hopefully to her. It’s definitely a way to change how I process my stress. How about you? Do you have a friend you feel comfortable sharing with?
- Spend time alone– When I was younger, I had a great habit of making time to do things alone. If you look back a few items on this list, you’ll see that prioritizing my children ranks high, which can also lead to no time for myself. For the past few years, I took a 2 day personal retreat. During that time, I would be alone with my thoughts. It was a time to reflect, to prioritize, and to cleanse my mind. The first time I did it, I remember sitting in my hotel room on the couch with no electronics on. I was just sitting. Alone. In the quiet. Just being. After about two hours, I went for a walk along the beach. I just listened to the sounds of nature and my footsteps crunching in the sand. It was glorious! This year, I didn’t make that a priority and I’m feeling the negative effects. Whether you take a few hours, a day, or even a whole retreat, making time to just sit somewhere quietly and think is an amazing gift to give yourself.
Well, I’ve made it through my list and it’s now 4:40 am. I plan this as my last early morning visit with you as I don’t see myself being part of the 3 a.m. crew any longer….