April is stress awareness month. As this month is about to end, let me wrap it up with a blog about stress and how to manage it especially during sleep.
If not managed well, stress can get in the way of attaining peace of mind in this highly pressurized world. We live in a fast-paced, results-driven society that can drive our thoughts to chaos if we are not careful in filtering the torrential inflow of ideas.
Stress is usually defined as a state of mind and emotion when we feel overwhelmed with so many stimuli and ideas from outside and inside to a point that our body and mind we can no longer adapt to them. It is what we feel when we are under pressure.
Stress triggers our body’s fight-or-flight response. It makes our body in a state of alert. While this state is beneficial at certain moments, such as knee-jerk reactions to impending dangers and accidents, our bodies may break down if they experience stress regularly.
Chronic stress can lead to the following:
- Muscle pain
- Chest pain
- Problems in digestion
- Drop in sex drive
- Sleep problems
It can also affect your mood by being:
Lastly, it can lead to changes in your behavior such as:
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Overeating or undereating
- Withdrawal from family, friends, and society
Sleepless and stressed
One of its immediate effects on our body is our inability to sleep. Pressures from work, family, personal demands and many other aspects of life can prevent sleep to come to you. Nagging thoughts and a flurry of emotions can keep you awake at night, leaving you tired and unable to sleep.
Aside from a dark and silent environment, your body needs a clear and relaxed mind to get quality sleep. A powerful practice that gets your mind relaxed is by doing mindfulness exercises.
There are many ways we can fight stress. Among them are engaging in physical activities, going away from an environment that causes stress or cutting off drinking caffeine and other stimulants. Another way to relieve stress that works especially well during bedtime is by practicing easy-to-do mindfulness exercises.
The practice of mindfulness meditation is taking Western medicine by storm. Mindfulness meditation can be traced thousands of years ago in India, the birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism. Monks of these two major world religions practice mindfulness over the years as a way to spiritual enlightenment. It is only some decades ago that Western scientists, notably Jon Kabat-Zinn, introduced this practice primarily because of its stress-relieving properties.
Anyone can do a mindfulness meditation. Just focusing your attention on your body experiences like breathing in a nonjudgmental manner is already a simple form of mindfulness exercise.
Attentiveness and focus from meditation clear the mind of whirring thoughts and emotions.
Recent scientific studies found out regularly doing mindfulness meditation can relax the brain and “rewire” it to be resilient to stress.
So, how can we do mindfulness meditation? The best way is to enroll in a guided mindfulness meditation classes. But if you don’t have time for extensive sessions, try some of these surprisingly simple mindfulness exercises that you can do in the comfort of your bedroom:
Hand awareness exercise – Clench your fists as tightly as you can for five to ten seconds, then release. During the entire exercise, focus on the sensation in your hands for as long as you can. Repeat this practice until you feel relaxed.
Mental focus exercise – Lock in your attention to any object as long as possible. If your thought gets lost elsewhere, direct it back toward the object. Aside from relieving stress, doing this practice over and over will boost your focus.
Mindful breathing exercise – Pay close attention to your breathing and keep in mind how you inhale and exhale. If you feel strong emotions, allow them to surface without judging. Repeat this practice until you feel relaxed. You can also do the 4-7-8 exercise as an alternative.
Silence exercise – Turn off any appliances or devices that can create noise in your room. Stay in it for an hour or two listening in total silence. Just absorb any stimuli from your surroundings. If there are still noises, using earplugs may help.
Touch exercise – Pinch your arm and notice how it feels and the emotions arising from it. Concentrate on the pain and how it emanates from the spot where you pinch. This exercise gets you in tune with how your body respond to discomfort and what kind of feelings rise from it.
Stress can cause sleep problems and vice versa. Doing any of the above surprisingly simple yet refreshing mindfulness hacks can lead you to a rejuvenating sleep.
Your bed also plays a vital role for having quality sleep. If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, maybe it’s time to replace your old mattress. Get one from Bedding Stock’s wide array of gel memory foam mattress!
- 201 Simple Ways That Will Make You Fall Asleep
- 8 Ways To Have Quality Sleep In A Shifting Work Schedule
- Try Doing These 7 Hacks To Experience Sweet Dreams
- 7 Bedtime Rituals That Will Put You To Sleep
- Sleepless in America (Infographic)
Latest posts by Tony Miller (see all)
- Some of the Lesser Known Tips for a Better Sleep - January 19, 2018
- Best Christmas Carols You Can Sing With Your Kids for Bedtime - December 15, 2017
- Certain Things About Coffee That Will Wake You Up - October 13, 2017