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RIP: How to Rest in Peace • You Must Look Within

Updated: Oct 24, 2021

Welcome foolish mortals, to a new week of exploring R&R (regret & remorse). I mean, rest & relaxation, of course. I will be your host, your ghost host. We will drift into the infamous, harrowing hallway of our own setbacks and mishaps in order to see the light that brings peace and tranquility. This corridor will no doubt contain spooky frights, but don't be alarmed. There is a way out, and it starts by looking through our own windows, doors, and haunted floors. Since venturing down your abandoned hallway of doom might be unappealing, I've included a quick guide for our tour: general information on sleep hygiene, tricks & tips for how to relax amidst your bewildered state, and best practices to prepare for your long-lasting slumber. Now, let's uncover the cobwebs that surround your inability to rest.


This week's witches brew:

not enough rest + not enough self-care + bad sleep hygiene = a haunted mansion


This week's phrase to hold onto:

"You try. You fail. You try. You fail. But the only true failure is when you stop trying."

-Madame Leota



I reached my breaking point last week. I thought I had been doing a really good job of resting with intentionality, setting boundaries, and focusing on things that make me feel both productive and accomplished. Without realizing it, I started to become resentful of my own efforts of writing, creating content, and publishing story posts. Hopefully, I don't sound pretentious, because that's not the goal. But if I'm honest, I felt like I wasn't not getting enough praise and recognition, which led to feelings of inadequacy and unrest within myself. My self-talk became something like, "people don't like my content." "Why aren't people engaging with my posts and stories?" "Is this blogging journey even worth it anymore?" These thoughts turned the once held passion for helping others into a praise-seeking endeavor. Nearly every post on social media became what we all dislike - that fake, carefully curated version of what we think other people's lives look like. While I was striving for authenticity, I was left feeling empty and depleted of energy - depleted of inward rest.


Since taking some time for myself this weekend and only posting a minimal amount, I realized that there is one person putting so much pressure on me. This person is a perfectionist. She likes to get things done. She believes in doing the right thing, and part of doing the right thing is expecting that other people will follow the same belief of what the "right thing" looks like. She gives energy, love, and engagement, so she expects energy, love, and engagement. She forgets that people are walking their own journey of self-discovery. She forgets that telling her story and the vulnerable parts of her life are what get people to follow her journey. They're less concerned with filters and pretty pictures. They want to hear, "me too. I'm glad I'm not alone." That gift was given to her a long time ago. That girl is me.


I had forgotten what started this passion for mental health writing and blogging. That it isn't strictly a business endeavor. It's a people endeavor. It's using my gift of writing and sharing my story with people who are hurting like I was, and sometimes still am. I know that this is the path I'm destined for, and I've looked within myself to rediscover why I began my blogging career - you. To help you. To lead you. To share with you. To be vulnerable with you. And the only way that I can do this effectively is to recharge and remind myself that my superpower is to be who I am meant to be and telling my story.

Now that you've been reminded that you're not alone in your struggles, I want to give you my hard-won truths, hiccups, and advice on rest. I think you're in for a pretty sweet treat!

 

Before starting therapy, I had no clue what sleep routines and sleep hygiene was, and I didn't feel equipped to actively rest. My therapist recommended I Google, "sleep hygiene," and I pretended to know what she was talking about. Now that I know, let me share what I've learned with you:

Sleep hygiene is our way of developing a positive, restful environment for our physical and mental health. Just like any other type of hygiene, it is a way to care for ourselves, allow our minds and bodies to find peace and relaxation in order to gain healthy sleep. Adequate sleep is proven to be necessary for our longevity, peace, and overall health. While sleep hygiene and wind-down routines look different from ghost to ghost (person to person), it's important to understand both positive and negative affects of slowing down at the end of the day and how to make a routine we continue to come back to (or never leave at all...mhm, mhm, mhm). It's difficult to sleep when our mansions are filled with cobwebs, oracles that won't stop talking, and butlers that creep up out of nowhere. This topic of rest is our way to combat our mental health struggles, but first, the eerie news:




The signs of horrifying sleep hygiene can vary with each ghost. According to Sleep Foundation, these are the top symptoms of deficiency in rest:

  • difficulty falling asleep

  • frequent sleep disturbances, such as, ghoulish frights

  • daytime sleepiness

Personal experiences from your host include:

  • frightening anxiety in the evening or morning

  • a messy or cluttered environment - those cobwebs gotta go

  • screentime overload

  • isolation or disconnection from others - too much rest is also a spooky fright.

Our physical and mental health are drastically impacted by sleep depravation. Healthline has given this frightful information to reflect on:

  • you could experience a hard time concentrating and thinking clearly.

    1. problem-solving skills, creativity, and concentration become more difficult (much like alcohol use).

  • car accidents are more likely to happen.

    1. daytime drowsiness can increase your chance of having an accident.

  • sleep depravation can cause your immune system to be compromised.

    1. much like alcohol use and stress, inadequate sleep can signal similar responses in the brain, weakening your immunity.

  • memory issues can arise with a continued lack of sleep.

    1. long-term and short-term memory can be impacted

  • mood changes can occur, which can cause anxiety and depression.

    1. I don't know about you, but I can get very irritable without enough sleep.

    2. Ramsley might have pulled too many all-nighters


So, what to do with all this haunting and daunting negativity? We can learn a lot from scientific information, but how do we put positive changes into practice? We must be honest and patient with ourselves; and continue to look within ourselves for guidance. Our tour continues with a bit of encouraging news:



Just like there are signs for needing to improve our sleep routines, there are signs of great sleep hygiene. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), signs of productive sleep include:

  • maintaining a bedtime routine each night

  • having a dark and quiet environment at a comfortable temperature - haunted mansion wallpaper optional

  • removing electronics from our bedroom

  • physical activity and exercise

Mayo Clinic also gives these additional insights:

  • what we eat and drink during the day can impact our sleep quality

    1. lessening our consumption of caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants can increase our chances for a more peaceful slumber.

  • limit daytime napping

    1. this tip just seems wrong, but it actually makes lots of sense. If we limit the amount of time we sleep during the day, we have a better chance of sleeping soundly at night.

    2. napping is not bad. Take naps, just don't over-indulge.

  • ask your doctor about consistent insomnia

    1. if you're noticing that your sleep patterns aren't adjusting on their own after putting in some practice to improve your sleep hygiene, contact your doctor.

 

As we come to the end of our tour, I want to share my struggles with routines and anxiety. Without routines, anxiety has a way of creeping up on me. Most of my struggles happen in the morning, but having a nighttime routine has the power to set us up for success into the next day. When I wake up, my mind tends to spiral furiously, and without realizing it, I'm anxious before I can even make myself a cup of coffee. I've realized that not having routines can directly impact my mental health. Since I know I'm not the only one that struggles with this, here are my best tips on setting yourself up for nightly success:

  • pick a time to remove technology and phone distractions

    1. my phone automatically sets itself for wind-down at 10:30, and do not disturb is turned on.

    2. charge your devices in another room so that you're not mindlessly scrolling until 3:00 AM.

  • choose an activity that promotes rest before bedtime

    1. meditation or journaling can really help in keeping yourself mindful and calm.

    2. bubble baths are great options to help relax your body.

    3. stretch or take a walk before bed.

  • tidy a room or a space that you know you'll go to in the morning.

    1. this is a huge one for me! If it's messy when I go to bed, it greatly impacts my level of anxiety the next morning.

  • start small and build on your accomplishments

    1. another thing I tend to do is dump all of my self-improvement ideas on myself at the same time. I quickly get burnt out and wonder why I'm not making much progress.

    2. think of 1-2 things each night that you can reasonably implement. You'll start to build your confidence more by leaning into things that work for you.

  • remember that the journey is about progress, not perfection

    1. don't be so hard on yourself. If you miss a nightly routine, pick it back up the following evening.

    2. trust the process. Lean into the art of doing your best, and know that your best is more than enough.

 

We have now approached the end of our guided, ghostly tour. We've learned frightful information to better equip our minds. We've glared into the oracle of costly sleep depravation and its long-lasting effects. And we have added useful tricks to our arsenal to combat our anxieties around rest. As you exit, beware of sleepless, hitch-hiking ghosts while leaving the post, and don't forget your death certificate on the way out. You've earned this restful, sleepy slumber.

 

Sources:

[1] Suni, Eric. “Sleep Hygiene.” Sleep Foundation, 14 Aug. 2020, www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene.

[2] Watson, Stephanie. “The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body.” Healthline, 15 May 2020, www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body#Central-nervous-system.

[3] “CDC - Sleep Hygiene Tips - Sleep and Sleep Disorders.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html. Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

[4] “Sleep Tips: 6 Steps to Better Sleep.” Mayo Clinic, 17 Apr. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379?reDate=19102021.

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