Tag Archives: the examen

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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Spiritual Wellness-Part I

Welcome to Part I of the Wellness Series! Today we will be focusing on the spiritual side of ourselves. Of course, though we cannot see our soul, it very much affects who we are–including our actions and what we think and believe. As I stated in the introductory post, each aspect of our beings affects the other aspects. (As I am a Catholic Christian, this post will come from that perspective. I hope that, wherever you are on your journey, you can find something that resonates with you.)

P1000266Our soul is the only part of us that will live forever. It’s amazing to think that a part of us is immortal! The choices we make today, in these mortal bodies of ours, affect our eternal futures.

There are a million things I could write, a million ways in which we can pray and grow closer to God. Obviously, I’m only a simple lay person, like the majority of humans. However, I do know that these are some avenues that all of us have access to (although some of our brothers and sisters around the world struggle to access the Sacraments because of persecution or lack of nearby churches–pray for them!).

1. Receive the Sacraments. God, being our Creator, knows that we are bodily people. The Sacraments are concrete ways we can experience God through our senses. God is so good that He wants us to be able to experience these things with our whole selves, in ways we can relate to! Think about Holy Water, the Eucharist, the awing beauty of a cathedral, the loving gaze of your new spouse as you exchange vows on the altar, or hearing the kind voice of the priest on the other side of the confessional. These are just a few examples of the experiences that come with receiving the Sacraments. Of course, attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is the way to start. What about adding another day each week to attend Mass? Don’t forget about the Sacrament of Reconciliation! The priests have heard it all–so don’t be afraid! Christ is healing you of your sins, forgiving you, through the priest! Pretty amazing, to have your sins wiped away and have a clean slate again. We don’t realize how much our sins pile up–much like a messy room. “It’s just a pair of socks,” a person shrugs as the socks are discarded onto the floor. Later, they will be astonished as “just one pair of socks” has also turned into a pair of pants, a shirt, a belt, papers, and anything else one can think of. Confession cleans out the dirty room and makes space for you to welcome Jesus!

2. Do the Examen. St. Ignatius of Loyola came up with this simple prayer. It allows you to reflect on your day and ways in which God was present. It is great for discernment, especially in finding patterns. It can also be a great examination of conscience and help you to realize areas of strength and weakness in your spiritual life. If you would like to learn more about the Examen, go here.

3.  Pray the Rosary. Many people love the Rosary; many others struggle with praying it. One thing can’t be denied: it is a powerful prayer. (To my Protestant brothers and sisters: Catholics are not worshipping Mary when we pray the Rosary. We are looking at the life of Jesus through the eyes of His mother, the one who loved Him so dearly and was closest to Him during His earthly life.) If you struggle with praying the Rosary, this blogger also has a hard time, but has some good reasons to keep on prayin’ it anyway.

4. Serve others.  “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Christ also reminds us that, when we do an act of service for another person, we are doing it for Him! There are so many needs in the world, including in your own home or neighborhood. Perhaps someone that you live with needs some extra attention, or there is an elderly neighbor you could share conversation with. There are numerous places looking for volunteers, including soup kitchens, crisis pregnancy centers, or nursing homes. There are also many needs worldwide, which you could contribute to financially or by going on a short or long-term mission trip. Ask God where He is calling you to be His hands and feet today.

5. Talk to God, always. Just as with our family members and friends, we must be in conversation with God in order to build a closer relationship. “Pray without ceasing; in everything, give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:17-18) Giving thanks to God is so important. Yet we must also be honest with Him and learn to confide in Him our deepest thoughts and needs, and the needs of the ones we love and the world as a whole. We can talk to Him silently throughout our day, in the car, while washing dishes, and when we need to speak a word of truth to another person. These are just a few examples. God is never far from us.

I hope that you can hold onto these tips and find a closer, stronger relationship with God! One huge aspect of wellness is your relationship with God–which affects your mental/emotional health, can affect physical health, and even your relationships with others!

Next up: mental/emotional wellness! (Here is the introductory post to the wellness series.)