The more stressed I get, the more tired I get. Yet when I reach the point of stress-induced exhaustion, I can’t sleep. Isn’t it such a nasty trick for my body to play on me? I’m sure I’m not alone in this, and the frustration just exacerbates the problem until a myriad of other physical and mental health issues start to raise their ugly heads.
Sleep and stress
There is such a clear link between sleep and stress; pre-children when I used to get consistently good sleep, I was more productive, more organised, more capable of dealing with challenges and handle stress in a positive way. Now? Well I’ve not regularly slept well for nearly 4 years and stress often leads to overwhelm and anxiety as I toss and turn in bed, repositioning my pillow to try and alleviate the onset of a migraine.
How to deal with stress
Stress can be a positive experience, a driver to work hard and achieve. When I’m firing on all cylinders I love the challenge of targets and deadlines, learning opportunities, new experiences. The problem is when those things become too difficult to deal with. I’ve been very open about my mental health struggles; not being the mum I thought I would be, being on Sertraline, having CBT for postnatal depression. These things don’t mean that I can’t find ways to cope with stress though, and that’s been an important factor in my journey to improved mental wellbeing.
I love a good to do list! I try to break them down into household, family, blog, and shop tasks and then further still into day-to-day lists, which stops them from becoming mammoth scrolls of chores that feel unachievable.
I’ve never done loads of yoga or meditation (I wish I did though, that’s a goal of mine) but I have been learning about some simple mindfulness techniques that can help reduce my stress levels, and also encourage a good night’s sleep:
- Focusing on a natural object. It could be a flower, a tree, the sky – anything that I can focus on for a minute or two. It makes my mind zone in on that ‘thing’, and the thoughts that have been clouding my brain melt away a bit, meaning that I can regain my composure again and start to deal with things.
- Gratitude. I have completed a gorgeous Gratitude Journal that I love so much, I now sell them at Apples & Pips! The idea is that the journal encourages you to think of the things to be grateful for in every day. It could be the children playing nicely together, a supportive smile from a stranger, a hug – it makes a massive difference to my mental wellbeing when I think of these moments over and above the tantrums, crappy internet, bad drivers on the road etc
- Stopping. I went food shopping recently and because I’d barely had 3 hours’ sleep the previous night, I just couldn’t focus. I stood in front of the shelves of toothpaste and simply could not cope with the need to choose which one to buy. I’ve worked really hard on these moments, because as my depression and anxiety gripped me, situations like this had been causing a lot of panic. Instead, I stopped and took a breath. I didn’t need to rush, it wasn’t a life or death situation, it was toothpaste. Giving myself a moment or two to just breathe meant that then I quickly remembered it wasn’t a big issue, so I grabbed a box of toothpaste and went on my way.
I can’t make Toby and Martha sleep through the night (goodness only knows I’ve tried!), but I can put things in place that will make the sleep I do manage to get, as good as possible.
One of the things I’m trying to do but need to be better at, is putting my phone away at 8pm ish, so that I have a good hour or two away from the notifications and screen glare. I’ve already switched off most pop-up notifications, but I really have to stop myself from still picking up my phone ‘just in case’. In case what? My phone and texts are still active in case anyone needs to contact me, I don’t need to know the ins and outs of every Facebook and Instagram update at 9pm (or ever, but that’s another blog post altogether).
I think the set-up in bed is really important too, so having a mattress and pillow(s) that suit my sleeping position, having a duvet that’s not too thick and overheats me, using a body clock light that has a sunset setting so the nice warm light slowly lowers me into slumber.
TEMPUR® and Mental Health Foundation
As someone who has a love/hate relationship with sleep (or lack thereof), and has openly discussed my own struggles with mental health and wellbeing, I’m a huge fan of endeavours to support charities with a focus on helping those who need it. That’s why I want to tell you about the fact that TEMPUR® are supporting the Mental Health Foundation as the chosen charity for 2018.
The Mental Health Foundation have pioneered new ways of looking at mental health and improving the lives of people experiencing mental illness for more than 60 years.
TEMPUR® will be donating £10 for every mattress sold through the TEMPUR® UK website, or through a TEMPUR owned store (brand or outlet) throughout May 2018.
** This post is in collaboration with TEMPUR® but all thoughts are my own **