I originally posted this on Huffington Post. I felt called to share this today, the eve of Mothers Day.
If you follow me at all on any social media, you will have noticed that I’ve spent a lot of time recently talking about shame. I think shame is currently very pervasive and active in our world today. I want to start with...
I have never been a good sleeper. Even as a child, after my sister fell asleep I would take my pillow and blanket and lay on the hallway floor and watch television. On my best nights I would lay there for two and a half hours before I fell asleep. On my worst nights it was substantially worse. As I grew older my poor sleep continued to grow more and more out of control. At one point, in my adult life, my sleep was so poor that if you pieced together all the ten-minute sections of sleep I got, it would equate to just about three hours. To say this impacted every area of my life is the greatest understatement of all time. Are you aware of how your body and mind are impacted by sleep loss? Many people are aware that sleep loss causes depression and even accident proneness, but what about the other areas impacted by sleep loss? Here’s a short run down of the impact of sleep loss: Weakened immune response, weight gain, impaired brain function, cognitive dysfunction, high blood pressure, heart disease, destroys sex drive, and is responsible for accidental deaths. The impact of sleeplessness is wide ranging, but I wanted to give you a taste for it.
For those of you who have struggled with getting deep, healing, rejuvenating sleep I would recommend the following immediately: do not use the bed for anything other than sleep and sex. Any other activities done in bed create confusion in your subconscious mind. Remember that 96-98% of habits and behaviors are stored in your subconscious mind. As such if the habit is that when you lay down you are doing anything other than sleep it creates confusion for your subconscious mind. At the end of the day sleep is a habit. My goal is to empower you to change your habit so that you can live the life you have always wanted to.
Here are my sleep suggestions:
- Disconnect: Inside of the television there is a blue tube that is designed to stimulate your brain. The IPAD is capable of depleting all of the melatonin in your brain. I recommend disconnecting all electronics at least a half hour to 45 minutes prior to bed time. Read a book, take a bath, clean the kitchen sink; whatever else we do we must stop stimulating our brains.
- Routine: All sleep experts agree on the validity of a sleep routine. My personal sleep routine is before bed I take my vitamins and supplements, drink a bottle of water, and brush my teeth. My experience is that once you being using a sleep routine the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep will diminish.
- Self-hypnosis: Once I learned how to use self-hypnosis my sleep substantially improved! If you are not using self-hypnosis I would strongly encourage you to begin. It’s hugely healing and it’s been a game changer for me. While engaging in self hypnosis I typically affirm that I am able to quickly and easily get to a deep level of sleep.
- Gratitude Game: Occasionally I will struggle with achieving sleep quickly. On those occasions when I am struggling with sleep, I play the gratitude game. The way I play it is I think of something to be grateful for that begins with the letters of the alphabet. If by some chance I am still awake by the time I reach the letter Z, then I just do it backwards coming up with different things to be grateful for.
- Deep Breathing: This is such a valid and helpful component; I just couldn’t leave it out. Engaging in deep breathing relaxes the brain and body. Just for a moment do 5 deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. I would encourage you to do this several times a day.
- Letting go: Many people have developed the habit of reviewing their day once they are in bed. Find a way to release the stress, anxiety, and worry before you ever climb into bed. Methods of letting go of these issues include: journaling, exercising, bathing, walking. Find a way that works for you.
Jenn Bovee, LCSW is a spiritual life coach and psychotherapist. Jenn offers in person therapy as well as distance life coaching. If you would like to learn more about Jenn or her services please check her out here: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com
I want to put this out there very clearly: I am not concerned with the particulars of what it is you are struggling with, this information is meant to be very universal. My intention is to empower individuals to thrive in their life in spite of: pain, stress, illnesses, weight, anxiety, depression, mental health concerns, negative thinking, etc.
I’ve developed this list out of two primary mechanisms: my own personal experience as well as the passion I have for learning. From my own experience, I’ve received diagnoses of several chronic illnesses and live my life despite the pain. This is how I’m able to maintain employment, love, and laughter despite everything my body goes through:
- Do NOT allow yourself to be defined by a diagnosis: I am very rarely ever heard saying, “I have ____”. I am very specific about my language because I am well aware that my subconscious mind is always listening. You may hear me saying things like, “I have been diagnosed with _____” because that is just a factual statement. It implies no ownership. I am very careful to view myself as a person outside of the illnesses my body has.
- Know your limits: Every human being alive has limits. Previously, I thought it was perfectly reasonable to be all things to all people. Now, I realize how foolish and ego driven this response is. Know how much time and energy you have to devote to certain things.
- Let Go of Shame: One of the things that I was blindsided with after being diagnosed was the amount of shame I carried as a result of allowing myself to _______. For me, in this instance it was for allowing myself to get sick. I know other people who struggle with similar thoughts but their fill in the blank answers include: gaining weight, getting into the car (and the subsequent accident), saying no, etc. Shame is absolutely debilitating. I have also come to realize that I couldn’t heal until I let go of the shame that I accepted.
- Let Go of Stress: One of my specialists actually states that if you are unable/unwilling to eliminate your stress he will not continue to provide services for you. Stress is basically the arch nemesis of health and wellbeing. I specialize in helping people let go of stress. In my life some examples of things I do to let go of stress includes: positive visualization, singing, nature, gardening, animals, as well as getting outside of myself! My list of ways to de-stress myself is basically endless.
- Positive Visualization: Every single day I spend time visualizing my positive, wonderful, amazing future. If you struggle with visualization then find pictures you can create in your mind. I’m not concerned with whether you are visualizing positive things or imagining positive things. The end result is always the same.
- Identify Positive Support: Having a toxic support system is very counter-productive. If I sense or believe that someone is toxic to me, or less than helpful, I absolutely limit my interaction with them. I suffer no guilt for setting these limits. Who in your life is positive, supportive, and loving? Surround yourself with those types of people.
- Ask for help: When I received the diagnosis I talked with my family. I literally told them I could keep working or I could be responsible for cleaning the house, but I couldn’t do both. They opted to have me keep working. If I’m having a higher pain day, I have no issue asking my husband to carry the laundry down the stairs for me. Asking for help is very empowering. In my life, I have so many people who love and care about me. Asking them for help allows them to be empowered and feel like they are doing something to help.
- Make Peace With Yourself: It’s impossible to heal and move forward when you are holding on to your past so tightly. Understand that most people are doing the best they can with what they have. The truth of the matter is that my best changes from moment to moment and from situation to situation. And that’s okay. I have made the decision to forgive myself and the rest of the world for everything that happened in my past. Resentment and anger do not serve me.
- Laugh…a lot: Have you heard that old expression, “laughter’s the best medicine”? There is a certain amount of truth in this statement. Besides being a distraction technique, laughter changes your vibrational frequency, and can change your perception of what you are going through.
- Know Yourself: Most people in the world are not skilled in the department of mindreading. If you don’t know what you want, need, prefer, believe how can anyone else. We have a responsibility to know ourselves and to communicate what we need and want in an appropriate manner. I know that I have a lot of energy at the beginning of the day than I do towards the end of it. As a result, if someone wants me to do something I am more likely to scheduled it in the morning.
At the end of the day, please just be kind and loving towards yourself. Know that you make a difference and you matter!
JennBovee, LCSW is a psychotherapist who’s located in Central Illinois. She offers in person therapy and Skype coaching sessions. You can connect with her here: http://www.inspiringenterprisesllc.com/
When I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Social Work I had no idea how grateful I would become that my program specialized in empowerment. My goal is to empower every human I come into contact with to improve their lives and achieve their goals. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of empower is to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights. I can’t be the only person who, as I read that definition, feels it to the very fiber of my soul… right? We live in a society where disempowering ourselves and others has become common place. I could spend days talking about the mechanics behind becoming dis-empowered. I could even dedicate an entire blog to what it looks like if you have been dis-empowered. However, I don’t want to do that today. As I previously stated my goal is to empower every being I come into contact with. Therefore, I want to provide each and every one of you who reads this with a list of ways to empower yourself.
- Take time for yourself each and every day: Whether its ten minutes or ten hours is irrelevant. The goals is to become mindful of how you feel physically in your body. Notice the areas of discomfort as well as the areas of joy and peace.
- Laugh: When is the last time you deliberately laughed? I’m not talking the kind of laugh that you do to be socially acceptable. I’m talking deep…deep….belly laughed? Laughing does more than just distracts your mind. It raises your vibrational level and creates positive chemicals in your body.
- Find your voice: I will be doing another blog soon about the steps to take to reclaim your voice. But I would like to encourage you to spend some time everyday asking yourself the following questions: What do I want? Why do I want that? What brings me joy? How can I incorporate more joy into my life? What’s stopping me from living up to my true potential today?
- Affirmations: One of the most powerful things in my life today is affirmations. I consciously focus on reinforcing what I want, not what I don’t want. I leave post it notes and visual cues in my life everywhere, about what I’m focused on. Do me a favor, right now…. Write down three things that you want in your life. Here’s the catch though, I want you to write them as though they’ve already occurred.
- Visualization: Because I specialize in treating the subconscious mind, one of the techniques that I typically teach my clients in the beginning of working together is the power of visualization. Whatever your goal is (no matter how extravagant it feels) spend a few minutes every night as you go to sleep visualizing it having come true. I tell my clients that I want them to imagine this in as much detail as they can, using as many of their senses as they can engage. This programs your subconscious mind to allow this goal to occur.
- Prune your support system: There’s an old adage that you become what you surround yourself with. In my life this has proven to be very accurate. When I stopped surrounding myself with people who want to manipulate, control, or oppress me I noticed an increase in positive opportunities surrounding me. I am way too protective of my energy to engage with people who want to deplete it. That’s not meant to say that I don’t engage with them. I just ensure if or when I do that I’m protected. Sometimes I call them when I only have ten minutes to spare.
- Replace the tapes: I have worked with people who have struggled to not continue to replay the tapes of negative things that they have been told throughout their life. When you are struggling to change the tapes in your brain, I encourage people to do this literally. Many of my clients will create a long list of affirmations and record them in their voice. As they are lying in bed at night, they play this tape on repeat.
- De-Clutter: I’ve been going through my entire world and working on actively de-cluttering recently. This is everything from my thoughts, my wallet, my office and my home. This is one of the most empowering and freeing activities a person can engage in. I would encourage you to spend 15 minutes every day just removing clutter from your environment.
- Spend time in nature: This can be a very grounding experience for you. Whether it’s: mowing the yard, pulling weeds, noticing the wonders or planting flowers. This is an all-inclusive activity, you can do it anywhere, to any extent, at any time. Even if it’s just looking out the window at the clouds.
- Meditation/Self-hypnosis: This doesn’t need to be anything extraordinary or complicated. If you are a beginner at meditation simply do some deep breathing while reminding yourself of your affirmations. That’s a great place to start.
Jenn Bovee, LCSW is a therapist located in Central Illinois. Learn more about her at www.Inspiringenterprisesllc.com