How have I been sleeping?
Ask yourself: Why are we full of excuses to miss out on sleep? Why is it that when we push ourselves or are pushed to the limit, where the first thing we do is skimp on the one simple, 100% free remedy that can help us most? As I’ve written about previously and always teach my patients: Sleep is your body’s most important, efficient and effective process to detox and replenish your energy stores, recover and restore your body’s health. However, somehow and very commonly, we seem to easily find many reasons to justify missing out. We don’t give ourselves permission to rest, recuperate, and revive our body, health & lives. Why would we give up this one free, beneficial and resourceful remedy?
Going through that check-list in your mind, finishing that report or that ironing at the expense of just two or three hours of sleep can trigger the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines that increase pain-causing inflammation in your entire system and increase cortisol levels with an irregular sleep pattern, pushing your body into adrenal overdrive, causing fatigue, lethargy, poor memory and concentration and a negative feedback of chemicals being released into your body that cause chaos and are detrimental to your health.
For example, losing this little sleep can increase your blood pressure and blood sugar, both of which can also heighten inflammation, and can increase your risk for metabolic syndrome, even if you show no signs of disease. Studies have shown that missing a few hours a night, a healthy young person’s fat cells are 30% less sensitive to insulin, meaning, you would technically become diabetic. Therefore, sleep is important to regulate your body’s internal systems!
Have you noticed poor sleep habits are making your looked aged? In short, here’s why: researchers summarised that subsequent to lack or poor quality of sleep, metabolically ages you 10 to 20 years. So instead of wasting money on chemical cosmetic products to reduce your fine lines or dark circles, simply look at improving your sleep pattern.
But don’t fear because luckily, this effect can be reversed with an equal number of solid nights of sleep. When it comes to sleep, quantity really is quality. Try to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep at night, avoid skimping and give yourself permission to truly rest and heal from your day; and take a 20 to 30 minute nap during the day, if at all possible. Studies have shown this to be beneficial for your organs including your brain, heart and liver!
Have I been escaping with eating, drinking, drugs, shopping, TV, sex?
How do you spend your day? What are you focused on at work? Where is your attention at home? How much time and energy do spend on you, for you or by yourself? These are questions we should ask ourselves when we’ve spent the whole week catering to other people’s needs because as a result, we often resort to subconsciously escaping to avoid thinking about what’s really causing our physical and emotional pain.
The problem with depriving ourselves of feeling and being aware, is that, while trying to make ourselves feel better, we end up giving ourselves even worse problems with addiction, extra pounds, unsustainable debt, and many others problems that can spiral out of control and become harder to change. It’s these issues that can have a greater impact on your life including work, relationships, love, sex, fulfilment, true satisfaction and passion for life.
Instead, we wrap ourselves in the fogginess of our numbing “go-too” vices and forget that we need to nurture ourselves to move through our pain with love and attentive care, to really figure out what is the root cause of our pain and to compassionately work through this to a stronger and healthier us.
A recommendation I suggest to my patients is to create a “me-space” at home, an undisturbed, safe and peaceful place, where you can go to be recharged and re-connect with yourself from a stressful or tiring day. I also suggest making a list of self-nurturing activities that you can turn to for support whenever you feel yourself reaching for a drink, a smoke, a chocolate, a meaningless fling or sexual encounter. I find that a 20-minute soak in a hot bath with 2 cups of Epsom salts or Lavender Sea salts, 4-6 drops of black pepper oil or lavender oil, and a cold flannel over the eyes usually works well for a relaxing and calming effect.
What am I saying to myself?
Have you ever stopped to think about what conversations you’re having with yourself throughout the day? Most people will say no, which can work against us when we’re in physical and emotional overwhelm. Here’s why: When we’re on the go constantly, we sometimes don’t even stop to question the content of our own thoughts, let alone change them. And our self-conversations have tremendous power when it comes to soothing or intensifying our pain. Our thoughts create neurochemical waves in the brain that can directly halt our pain or make it worse. This effect is even more pronounced among those of us with chronic pain. Studies have shown evidence where patients experiencing chronic pain, swapped negative thoughts for positive ones, resulting in significant reduction in pain levels.
Believe it: We have the power and strength to relieve our pain simply by changing our thoughts and the conversations we have with ourselves.
I strongly advocate personalised positive affirmations to my patients who are struggling with physical, emotional or mindful blocks. A great way to start off the day is by giving thanks with gratitude before the day begins. Then look in the mirror and repeat 3 times: “I believe in myself. Every cell in my body is healthy. I am getting stronger every day. I feel more powerful, more positive, and pain free.” Although it may seem uncomfortable or awkward to begin with, remember that you’re creating new pathways in your brain to resist pain and to invite peace and reduced pain.
You deserve to spend time nurturing yourself, and making yourself a priority, and you should start with your thoughts. This practice alone could be the most powerful shift you make toward a pain-free and positive life.
If you yourself or anyone you know have been wondering about these questions and experience pain in a way that has become frustrating and destructive to your body, your self-esteem and emotions, your relationships and your life, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would love to hear from you and learn about your story and struggles; so I can support you to make changes in freeing yourself from pain to regain control and power of your body, and not let pain run you and your life.
I look forward to serving you!
Wishing you good health and all my best,