Mental Health 3 weeks ago Why Aren't We Sleeping?
I know I’m not the only one who hasn’t been sleeping well this
Last month, went to Texas to visit my family and I slept like a baby. We were there for nearly a month and I couldn’t believe how hard I slept and well rested I felt after only a few nights in my family home. I honestly didn’t even realize I was getting such poor sleep until that trip. I think it was because I felt grounded by my safety net of family. I felt safe and like I could finally relax. After all, if anything were to happen I had both of my parents in the house, my husband, my baby and a strong roof over our heads, warm cooked meals on the table and the wide open spaces of South Texas. It was the first time in over a year that I felt like I could exhale.
Like everyone this past year, I’ve been living in a constant state of fight-or-flight and it has been exhausting. The fight-or-flight response (aka “the acute stress response”), if a physiological reaction that happens when you are faced with something that is mentally or physically scary.
The fight-or-flight response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety.
It is physically and mentally exhausting to constantly live in this state of panic. The hormone that is triggered from this underlying anxiety is one that not only keeps you up at night, but triggers a low-grade anxiety and depression. So, how do we deal with this constant underlying anxiety that I am most certain we collectively feel due to Covid-19? After talking to my therapist and doing a bit of research, I learned how important it is for our bodies to have rest from fight-or-flight. The #1 tip my therapist gave me while I was in Texas was to pay very close attention to my surroundings there and to try and mimic things in Los Angeles that I enjoyed about Texas.
Daily walks, a slow pace in the morning before work, home-made and healthy dinners and turning off the news were all things that we did in Texas that we brought back home with us. But not everyone has the option to retreat back home to mom and dad for a little refresh, so I put together this little list of ways we can manage fight-or-flight and all hopefully get a bit more sleep!
Ways we can manage and/or tame our fight-or-flight during Covid-19 pandemic:
- Breathe. Whether you put a post-it note on your bathroom mirror as a daily reminder or set calendar alerts. Take some time to slow down with a few deep breaths throughout the day.
- Exercise. Even if it’s a quick 20 minute walk by yourself, moving your body will also help to move the mind.
- Treat yourself with compassion and loving words. These are extraordinary times. Be kind to yourself and to others.
- Limit your intake of news and social media.
- Pay it forward. Little acts of kindness will make a big difference and will release happy endorphins!
- Practice daily gratitude. Keep a journal by your bed and start the day by listing things you are grateful for.
- If the anxiety or worry is interfering with everyday functioning, consider speaking with a counselor (many of whom offer virtual visits).
What are some ways that you try to find inner peace during these troubling times? Leave a comment below!