Rural Mindfulness for a better sleep
Are you sleeping well? If you are having trouble getting off to sleep at night or waking through the night often you may find this information interesting and helpful.
After a busy day our sympathetic nervous system can be very active. This part of the nervous system is designed to keep us alert, awake and ready for anything. Unfortunately if we have a long string of days that feel full to the brim, our bodies may actually think we are being chased by a lion and set in place the fight or flight response. This can lead to mild anxiety and exhaustion.
The nervous system imbalance can then affect our sleep as well. There is no way your body is going off to sleep if it feels you have more urgent things to attend or a possible threat looming. It can be difficult to convince the body the day has come to an end and its time to rest, especially if you feel aches, pains and tension from a long day standing or sitting.
Some of our Rural Mindfulness strategies can really help though, because they bring a sense of calm back into the body. We can activate the parasympathetic part of the nervous system (the inner calming system) by elevating the legs, practicing a Deep Relaxation before bed or focusing on the breath.
Breath awareness is key actually because the rhythm of our breath is sending subtle messages to the body about our outer environment. It’s natural to start breathing in a shallow way, up into the chest and sometimes even holding the breath when we are stressed or under pressure.
So here is my big secret – Breath calmly when the pressure is on and it tricks your body remaining calm. When the body is calm you are digesting well, you are thinking clearly and you are in a much better position to handle the situation.
You can get to know what I call your ‘Signature Breath.’ This is an equal ratio breath that is steady, calm and deep; relaxed, easy and effortless. It is probably your holiday breath ratio, or post harvest when the header is packed away and you can ‘breath easy’. Try to remember this calm breathing ratio and style of breathing, and consciously breathe this way when you are running late, disappointed at work or about to react in a way you know you will regret later.
If your ‘Signature Breath’ is practiced regularly throughout the day you will have a more balanced nervous system to assist with sleep at night. Try to soften the home lighting around an hour before bed. Ideally start to reduce the stimulation of a computer screen, phone or television. Winter will be here soon so it a great chance to set yourself up a restful chair and to enjoy relaxing with a warm blanket and good book before bed.
Then about 15 minutes before sliding under the covers, elevate your legs on a chair and rest your hands on your abdomen. Notice the body relaxing and the breath moving your hands up and down.
A good nights sleep is essential for productivity, better concentration, higher energy levels and good physical and mental health. Its important and worth trying a new nighttime routine. I offer specific Rural Mindfulness workshops that should help your sleeping patterns almost right away.
(Deep Relaxations for a better sleep are on my web site www.blissfullypresent.com.au)