With all the ramped up talk with a new year starting, we all are focusing on how to produce more, be more organized and get more done!  I support that fully, but also, let’s make a point to learn to unwind.

One complaint I hear a lot is “I don’t sleep very well.”   There are a hundred things that can affect sleep but I believe that a lot of that is due to our brains not shutting off.  We crawl into bed with a to-do list already starting for tomorrow, mental reprimands for  what we didn’t get done, and all kinds of stimuli finding its way into our pupils to rough things up a bit.

Let’s learn to unwind.  Let’s schedule time to unwind.  Let’s enjoy the last few hours of each day a little more.  Here are a few ideas.

Young woman sleeping

1) Set a Cut Off Time – Set a time, 1.5 -2 hours before you normally go to bed, to shut everything off.  Turn off your computer, close up your schedule, put away your “homework”.  Unplug.  A lot of studies show that even the lighting from our devices can affect our brain chemistry enough to interrupt our sleep cycle.  I would recommend even shutting down your phone and TV but…..little steps at a time.  Spend the last moments before sleep doing something you enjoy.

2) Relax – create an atmosphere where your body can relax.  Drink some herbal tea, read some non-work related books that are uplifting, take a warm bubble bath, do a few yoga moves before you crawl into bed.  Schedule a massage at the end of your work day.  Our local NPR station has a program called “Night Crossings” from 9pm to midnight.  I love listening to the soothing music before I go to sleep!

3) Set your mood – We used to ask our kids before they went to sleep, “What good thing happened to you today?”  Why not end the day thinking about a good memory?  You can take a moment to “remember” that moment or even write it down in a journal and expand upon why it was good and why you are grateful for that.  Expanding on the feeling, on the gratitude, can set your mood for the next several minutes and carry you off into dream land.  Sometimes, I’ll watch videos of my grandson, MJ, before I go to sleep and he always makes me laugh out loud.  Best bedtime story ever!

4) Meditate/Pray – ending your day with a few moments to totally empty out your mind of thought can be very refreshing.  The do’s and don’ts and should’s and shouldn’ts are exhausting.  Shut off your mind and focus only on your breathing or a one word prayer and nothing else.  Nothing.  Of course our minds tend to wander when we do this but keep coming back to your breath.  Shutting off the thoughts in our mind allows the good things to come in!

As you focus on making 2015 a better year, be sure to include some time to relax.   If you do that, you’ll probably produce more and reach your other 2015 goals as well.

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Christie Ryan Fitness