Have you laid awake in bed for hours wishing you could fall asleep? Your mind just races from one thought to the next taking no breaks in between, often repeating repeating repeating things you’ve already gone over in that brain of yours. Do you ever hear the voice in your head say, “Stop thinking. You can deal with this in the morning. Just go to bed!” All of the things making you anxious, big or small, are keeping you up. The minutes turn into hours. Just fall asleep…
This happens to me frequently. Including when I first wrote a draft for this post. So, with that said I thought I’d share how I get past it in a way that is healthy for me and maybe it will help someone else in the world:
- First I lay around for a while. I do the whole thinking in circles, tossing and turning, trying my best to turn my brain off without doing real work. Mostly just internally telling myself to chill.
- Once I realize this isn’t working I get up. I move my body, get out of bed and turn on the light or sometimes go to another room. Get out a journal, a piece of paper, your computer, anything to write ALL your thoughts down.
- The thoughts keeping you awake. The thoughts about your thoughts. The feelings that come up with each one, including how you feel about not being to fall asleep.
- It’s important to note that you need to be kind to yourself here. Recording all your thoughts can be brutal if you’re lacking self compassion. Avoid writing things like “I need to” or “Why can’t I”. Instead try “I would like to” and “What is preventing me from…?” Dealing with anxiety is hard, so cut yourself break and let in some self love and self compassion.
- Once it’s all on paper I take a look and breathe. Deep inhale followed by a long exhale. Here they are, all the things keeping me awake.
- Then I write this, “Here are my thoughts all on this paper. They don’t have to be in my head any longer. I am going to keep them here tonight so I can sleep and I can revisit them in the morning when I feel more refreshed. I can worry tomorrow. Tonight I may rest.”
- Again, deep inhale and exhale. Breathe that shit out!
- Last I make a plan and it’s very simple. What will I do to get back into bed? Maybe it’s a shower. Most likely it’s a meditation. Sometimes when it’s clear to me I still have a lot of energy to get rid of I might choose a longer activity like yoga or reading a book.
- Try again. Lay in bed reminding yourself your thoughts are somewhere safe and will be there later. Now is time for bed. You deserve this.
This method doesn’t always work like magic, but I will say sometimes it does. Even if I’m still up for hours, I am no longer berating myself for being anxious. My energy has shifted from something negative to something positive, and that relieves stress and anxiety in itself!
Most important thing to take away is this: give yourself a break. I know it sucks to be anxious. Please don’t beat yourself up or think about how much you hate the cards you’ve been dealt. Your struggles make you brave and wise. Your healing makes your good days more beautiful than the average person can imagine. Your story makes you powerful.