It's time to stop putting on a bandaid and get to the root of the problem.
Every night when you lay your head down to rest your mental ritual of scanning your demanding to-do list begins.
According to the Center for Disease Control, it's estimated that 50-70-million Americans are sleep deprived or have a diagnosed sleeping disorder. And the main contributing factor for sleep disruption is the inability to shut off your mind.
You try and shut it off. But the more you try the louder your thoughts get. As a last resort you pop in a sleep aid or drink an extra glass of wine to tranquilize your brain. Why? Because everyone is desperate to catch some zzz's. But is popping the pill the answer or is that simply putting on a bandaid on a gapping wound?
What's Causing This Lack of Sleep Epidemic?
You're too busy. You're saying "yes" to things that are not important to you. And that actually steal your happiness. It shouldn't be this difficult to get a full night's rest. But it's the pace that everyone keeps, day-by-day that causes you so much stress even when you try and sleep.
To put it in perspective think of it another way. The faster you drive your car, the longer it takes to slow it down to a complete stop. The more that you task-shift (what we define as multi-tasking) it's harder for your mind to slow down when you want it all to stop.
Okay, fine I task-shift. But how else can I get everything done?
You can't. Haven't you learned yet that the to-do list NEVER goes away. That it mutates and accumulates, and never EVER disappears?
And the more axillary tasks you add to your list that's not necessary for example, the 3rd extra-curricular activity for your son, or the PTA seat that you filled, or the dogs that you agreed to sit for the 15th time for free as your brother jets off to the Caribbean, all add too your ever growing list, keeping your mind drowning in swirling thoughts.
The real solution is pretty basic and to be honest too simple for a lot of people. But basic concepts are tried and true and work each and every time you are diligent about the execution.
It All Starts With 3 Basic Steps:
- Check in with your priorities on a regular basis. Make sure your lifestyle and choices line up with the things closest to your heart (Activity: List out the 5 things closest to your heart. Things/people/experiences, that you can't live without. Next put them in order of importance, 1 being the most important and 5 being less important.)
- Build boundaries around your 5 things closest to your heart. (Hint: Holding boundaries becomes increasingly more easy once you have a clear sense of self. When you can answer the questions, "Who am I?" without using labels, you have a clear understanding of why you are saying no to certain tasks that will pull you away from the 5 things closest to your heart.)
- Understand that "No" is a complete sentence. You don't have to explain yourself. If what someone is asking of you doesn't align with the lifestyle of your dreams and pulls you away from what matters most, simply say, "No".
The question comes down to this, do you want to keep popping a pill or do you want to make some changes that will radically alter your life? Going through these basic steps will give you the framework to create one hell of a life. All you have to do is devote 10 minutes to doing the activity and then keep the list of priorities in your phone, wallet, or purse so that you can reference when you need a refresher.
But I have so many commitments, I can't just not show up.
Let's be real, you can't simply drop your commitments, well you can but you would be a jerk if you did, but what you can do is not sign up for any new activities or duties that will steal your precious time. See once you have a clear understanding of what is important to you and what you need to be consistently happy, it's easy to say "No" as you reference your list that you created.
Essentially, when one commitment wraps up, your done. You don't have to resign, or look for something to fill it's place. Once you start the process and say your very first, "No" you'll notice a huge shift in your life.
Expect The Unexpected
A little heads up. Don't be shocked if you don't know what to do with your extra time or if the excess freedom or lack of responsibility makes you really uncomfortable. Change breads uncomfortableness that's why it's so hard to do. Even though you are evolving for the better it will still be hard to sit still and not jump up and keep running. AND if you sit through it (and I promise it will pass), you will experience the life that you have been waiting for on the other side of the temporary discomfort.
Your sleep will be disrupted again. Your mind will race again when you try and shut it down, and when that happens simply refer back to your list that you created. You now have an insanely easy to read assessment tool that will spit out the answer to soothe your restless mind. Simply scroll down the list and ask yourself if the 5 things closest to your heart, your priorities, are in line with the way that you are living your life.
More often than not one of the priorities will have taken a back seat. For example maybe a priority is lots of family time and you by accident signed on too a big project at the church and are now pulled away three maybe four nights a week. Once you know where the mix up occurred you can complete the commitment and then re-solidify your boundaries. Yes, it's that simple.
Jessica is the author of Back 2 Love and How to Start a Mental Health Private Practice. She owns a practice in New Prague, Minnesota where she lives with her husband, two kids, and two pups. For more tips on creating your ideal lifestyle check out her YouTube channel, Super Living.