Tag Archives: sleep

Battling Insomnia & Getting a Good Night’s Sleep.

Lately I’ve heard many people mention their inability to sleep at night. This is a

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

frustrating problem! Sleep is crucial to our physical and mental well-being, as well as our ability to fulfill our daily tasks. Insomnia isn’t normally something I struggle with, but unfortunately I’ve also had my recent bouts of it. There are a few key things that I’ve found helpful for myself, and I will share a few of those tips, as well as some others. Did you know that the journey to falling asleep more easily actually starts long before your head hits the pillow? Here are a few tips that may be useful in battling insomnia and falling asleep more easily:

 

Exercise regularly. There are actually studies which have found that exercise promotes falling asleep easier. Exercise may even help your Circadian rhythm to harmonize itself.

Write a to-do list for the next day. If you find yourself worried about all that has been left undone, write it down. That way you can relax a bit more while also not being stressed out about forgetting what you need to do the next day.

Limit your screen time before bed. It’s best to cut out screens a few hours before you go to bed. If you do find yourself needing to using screens, there are actually glasses you can wear which will help to block out some of the light and allow you to use screens without disrupting your body’s clock. There are also apps that you can download for your phone or computer, including Twilight, which will cut out some of the unnecessary brightness after a certain hour.

Make sure that light isn’t interfering with your ability to sleep. For those living in big cities, streetlights filtering in through the windows can make it very difficult to sleep. When there is light, your body has difficulty falling asleep because light normally means daytime! There is something called “blackout blinds” which are very effective in making a room dark and promoting better sleep. Make sure that any alarm clocks or other electronics aren’t shining where you can see them.

Watch your caffeine intake. Some people need to cut out caffeine after a certain hour of the day, or else they will have great difficulty falling asleep. You may need to limit caffeine throughout the day. Figure out your body’s unique makeup. For myself, I’ve had to cut out caffeine completely. I’m a huge tea-drinker, but after some terrible nights of not being able to fall asleep and feeling wired, I realized that it’s just not worth it. I stick to caffeine-free herbal teas now.

Drink a cup of chamomile tea before bed. I’ve definitely found this to be calming and helping me to wind down. There are many varieties of chamomile tea at the store. At one point I was drinking chamomile tea with lavender, which I really enjoyed. I think a cup of chamomile tea actually helps me to sleep more deeply and get a better night’s sleep as well.

Journal. If you are finding yourself going through a lot, this can be especially helpful. Journal is a relaxing and meditative practice. If you have a lot on your mind, journaling can help you to process this, and to possibly feel less stressed out.

Pray. I’ve written before about the Examen. This prayer is a great way to wind down and wrap up your day. The prayer consists of different parts, but basically you are processing your day before your Creator, including how you are feeling God’s presence, as well as ways that you can do better in life. Any way that you can connect with God at the end of the day can be relaxing and bring more contentment to your life in general.

Are you anxious? Everyone has troubles and challenges. If you are finding that anxiety is having effects on your life, including your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep, please talk to a counselor. There is no shame in doing so! Not only will you find yourself better able to sleep as your anxiety improves, but you’ll also find yourself living a life of greater freedom in all areas!

I hope that you find some or all of these tips helpful! Happy sleeping!

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Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash
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Your Body=A Temple of God

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”~1 Corinthians 6:19-20

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(courtesy of unsplash.com)

Our bodies are gifts given to us. These bodies are the vehicles which allow us to serve God and our fellow human beings. They allow us to experience the gift of life. We are only given one chance to live, one body to work with. How are you doing with treating your body as a temple, remembering that you were made in the image of God?

There is so much evidence about the effects on our bodies of many different things–smoking, sugar, lack of sleep, etc. Young people often make health choices and don’t see the negative effects. So they continue to make those choices, not realizing the cumulative damage that these choices are having upon their bodies.

It can be difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle nowadays. I am thinking specifically of living in North America. There are ingredients in the foods sold in our stores that are banned in other countries! This society also encourages us to produce, produce, produce. This can lead to large amounts of stress, less sleep, and even less time to prepare and eat healthy meals. Many jobs are also sedentary. Most people are not getting the exercise they need to stay healthy. Is it any wonder that people are stressed out and sick?

As in the other areas of life, God is calling us to be different. We are called to honor our bodies as creations of God! As the verse at the beginning of the post states, we were bought with a price! Christ gave His very body so that we might live. By taking care of our bodies, we are honoring God and His sacrifice on the cross.

Here is a checklist I came up with to figure out how we’re doing well and where we can ask God’s grace to make improvements (and perhaps find an accountability partner):

  • Am I getting the sleep my body needs each night in order to feel refreshed and ready to do God’s work the next day?
  • Am I choosing foods that nourish my body and leave me feeling energetic and healthy?
  • Do I take opportunities to exercise and move my body?
  • Am I listening to negative music, watching bad movies, or spending time with other unholy and draining influences?
  • Do I respect my own body and the bodies of others, in my thoughts, words, and actions?
  • Am I taking care of my emotional health and taking opportunities to recharge and also to spend time with positive community?
  • Do I love the way that God made me or do I think negative thoughts about myself?
  • Am I nourishing my soul by spending time in prayer with God?
  • Am I honoring the Sabbath and refraining from unnecessary work on that day?

What tips do you have for taking care of the temple of your body?

Physical Wellness-Part III

Welcome to Part III of the Wellness series, Physical Wellness! This is the last part of the series. You can read Part I-Spiritual Wellness here, and Part II-Emotional Wellness here.

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Our bodies are integral to who we are. People do not see our soul; they see our physical self! The state of our bodies affects our emotional state. For example, if you are feeling ill physically, you often feel down mentally. If you are taking good care of your body (and not struggling with some sort of health issue), you are going to feel great physically & mentally!

Our bodies are a temple of God, as we are told in 1 Corinthians (chapter 6, verse 19). I would even go so far as to say that the way that we take care of our bodies can reflect our relationship with God. In Mark (chapter 12, verse 31), we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we are taking care of ourselves physically and otherwise, we honor God by honoring His gift of life!

Again, some of these tips may seem basic–but it’s when we lose track of the basics when things start to go awry. Get back to the basics and you’ll be on the right track!

1. Eat a healthy diet. Eat lots of fruits and veggies–a rainbow of colors! Different colors of fruits and veggies contain different vitamins and minerals. Whenever possible, eat organic. Certain conventional fruits and vegetables contain more pesticides and should be eaten organic. The “dirty dozen” refers to produce that should be eaten organic, while the “clean fifteen” is produce that is usually safe to eat conventional. A list can be found here. Don’t forget about protein to keep you energized! Eggs are a great source of protein, as well as beans, nuts, meat, and fish! (Going along with this tip, stay hydrated! Dehydration can be very dangerous.)

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2. Get enough sleep. I focused on this in emotional wellness, but of course it’s very important here as well! If your body isn’t given time to recharge, you will suffer. You’ll be less productive and possibly even irritable. Lack of sleep can even lower immune function, making it more likely that you’ll get sick. Over the long-term, lack of sleep can also increase your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Yes, sleep is more important than you realize! Shoot for 7-9 hours a night.

3. Exercise. Nowadays, many people live sedentary lifestyles. That makes getting exercise more of necessity than ever. Does exercise seem like a chore? Discover what you like. Do you prefer a high-intensity workout? Do you enjoy pilates? Or are you more of a zumba person? Walking, running, swimming, skating, basketball, football, ultimate frisbee, or whatever sport you like…It’s up to you. According to Mayo Clinic, exercise can help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even depression. It’s beneficial physically and emotionally.

4. Pray! Of course, I’m going to put in a plug for prayer. Prayer is soothing and can help lower blood pressure and possibly even strengthen the immune system, according to this article. You can even go on a “prayer walk” or a rosary walk and combine #3 & #4!

5. Eat probiotic foods or take a probiotic supplement. Your gut contains “good” and “bad” bacteria. The “good” bacteria aids in digestion and nutrient absorption. An imbalance of “good” and “bad” gut flora can also contribute to other problems, such as your risk of cancer. Especially if you have taken antibiotics, the “good” bacteria get killed off. You can help to replenish them by eating probiotic foods (such as yogurt, kefir, saurkraut, and others) or taking a supplement. Here are some benefits of probiotic use.

6. Be careful what you put on your body and use for everyday tasks. Cancer-causing chemicals have been found in soaps and shampoos, as well as other personal care products such as perfumes. Most cleaning products contain chemicals, so opt for more natural cleaners. Use a BPA-free water bottle. Research is still being done about BPA and its risks, but some risks that have come to be shown are brain and behavior problems, as well as a later risk of cancer. The things we put on our bodies every day do affect our physical well-being, and have a cumulative effect, so it’s important to be aware of the things you’re using on your body or around the house.

Is there anything else you would add to this list? Are there any other tips that are essential to physical health?

Thank you for reading the Wellness Series! I am excited to write even more about these topics in the future and help you to achieve better physical and emotional health, as well as a closer walk with God!

Emotional/Mental Wellness-Part II

Welcome to Emotional/Mental Wellness-Part II of the Wellness series! (Part I-Spiritual Wellness-can be found here.) Though some of these tips may seem basic, often we stray from the basics. Sometimes it’s a simple reason why we’re feeling “off” and unbalanced–and often it has to do with losing track of the basics! I hope that you’ll be able to find some help in this post!

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1. Pray. Pour your heart out to God! God will lead you to truth and wholeness. In God, you will find joy. That doesn’t mean you will be happy all the time–but joy means security in God, no matter what! The sacrament of Reconciliation can also help us stay well emotionally–we get the darkness out of us and find forgiveness! There is so much healing and life to be found in that. We don’t realize how much our sin unconsciously affects us and our well-being.

2. Find social support. At work or in other situations, we can encounter people who bring negativity. Life can be stressful anyway. Tragedy and hard times hit us. Surround yourself with positive people who inspire you. Make time to connect with those people and groups that keep you real. Make friends with honest, loyal people that you can count on in good times and bad. Confide in family and friends that will encourage you, even when you’re in your darkest hour.

3. Don’t fill your plate too much. I’m not talking food here. I’m talking about life balance. Keep your priorities straight and stay focused on them. This will cut down on unnecessary stress. This will help you to be calm(er) and to savor the life you are living. It’s difficult to do the best we can if we are spread between 100 things. If you focus on the most important things, you’ll excel.

4. Fill your body with nourishment.  Many people don’t realize that the foods they ingest can affect their moods! Stay away from refined sugars and heavily processed foods. Make sure that you’re getting healthy fats–such as avocados–in your diet. Vitamin D also affects mood. The most common source of Vitamin D is fish–this page contains a list of Vitamin D-rich foods. Another help for mood or anxiety is essential oils. I love to use Lavender for its calming affects, and not to mention it has a great scent!

5. Get enough rest. This is another arena of our life which can affect your mood. Not only can sleep affect your mood, it will also affect the quality of your work. Are you a person who doesn’t sleep because you feel there’s too much to do? Consider this: if you let your body recharge each night, your productivity will show this. On the other hand, insufficient sleep will catch up to you and the quality of your work will suffer.  The amount of sleep you get can also affect your relationships with others. If you’re crabby because you’ve been cutting out sleep, it won’t be a positive influence on your relationships.

Next up: physical wellness! As you can see, often these tips will affect other parts of your life; that’s because each part of our being is connected and goes with the other! Do you have any other tips or necessities in your life for staying emotionally balanced?