Calming the overactive mind

Anyone out there ever lay awake at night wondering how things are going to turn out or needing to know why things happen as they do?  You’re not alone; ruminating is a very popular pastime that wreaks havoc on sustainable self-care systems that open the door to personal excellence at work and at home.

The overactive brain is fueled by an insatiable desire to analyze, interpret and conclude.  These three yearnings can be used to discover expansive solutions or create successful outcomes and they can also deprive you of what the engines of your cells (mitochondria) need the most for optimal productivity: sleep.

I can feel the push back simply mentioning the simple solution that also happens to be free: sleep.  Sleep? Are you kidding me? I don’t have enough hours in the day to do what I have to do to feel successful, enough and provide for my family, how can I sleep when I’m up at night slaying the serpents of fear, doubt and worry?  Yet studies continue to reveal that a consistent self-care practice of seven to eight hours of sleep each night is essential for optimal productivity, health and wellness. 

An overactive brain creates the perfect internal environment for breakdown and burnout because the repair systems of the body are deprived of their main job: restoration.  When your brain is constantly tied up in overactive thinking fueled by perceived threats in life: my manager doesn’t like me; I won’t be able to make deadline; I am afraid to public speak; fly in a plane; confront my co-worker, you render yourself extremely vulnerable to a biological push-back. 

Your body is built for restoration and repair.  Sufficient, consistent sleep is the match that ignites this beautiful built in gift that works in your favor while you sleep.  Biological repair occurs in your body the first half of the night and psychological repair takes over the second half. Even 30 minutes less sleep each night consistently can trigger an increase in blood pressure; increase appetite; poor performance; inflammation; and the stress hormone.  Sleep deprivation results in mood deprivation. We can all relate to a toddler who has been sleep-deprived; now imagine a grown person with the same capacity for temper tantrums.

Perhaps some of you are saying at this point: “I get it, I know sleep is important. I just can’t fall asleep; stay asleep or get back to sleep after I wake up at 2 am.” Explore implementing the following self-care systems that help create an internal environment conducive to healthy sleep patterns. Life is a gift, go for your highest potential at work and at home by increasing the probability of a restful, restorative night’s sleep.

Exercise: Why do you see this on every health and wellness blog? It actually works. It supports a healthy life style; it also supports a healthy sleep cycle. When you exercise you increase oxygen in the body which gives you more brain power to access solution based thinking awareness: hmmm, I am sick of being tired and feeling burnt out, I want to do something about this. Energy is simply your capacity for action. The more you exercise the more energy you will have to take action implementing a healthy sleep cycle. When you exercise to your favorite music you give yourself a brain break from ruminating.  It’s hard to sing your favorite song and fixate on what your co-worker said about you at the same time.

Sunshine:  Whenever possible, get at least 20 minutes of sunshine a day. Vitamin D has endless biological benefits that work in your favor.  Sunshine can also boost your serotonin and endorphins (mood and memory).  As John Denver suggests, sunshine on your shoulders does make you happy. Happen to live in a cloudy state?  Levity is a light/sound therapy product that supports sleep, mood, memory and energy levels.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): EFT is a powerful energy psychology technique that is known as acupuncture without the needles. Using your fingertips to tap on certain points on the body, you collapse your body’s response to a threatening thought. Life happens and remains objective without taking up any head space or creating a biological flare-up until you label the situation as threatening to your worth, value or capability.

The moment you label a thought as threatening to your emotional safety, the HPA axis kicks in: your hypothalamus interprets the threat, calls up the pituitary gland which ignites the adrenal glands dumping cortisol (stress hormone), epinephrine and norepinephrine into your system which enables you to fight, flight or freeze.

This biological response to a threat also makes you less intelligent and capable of accessing executive thinking (problem solving abilities) because the process restricts the blood vessels in the frontal cortex of your brain. Watch this video for an EFT demonstration. EFT has been proven a very effective technique for sleep issues.  As you tap on the points demonstrated in the video simply say, “Even though I can’t sleep I am willing to love and accept myself and I give my body permission to release distracting thoughts and lean into the experience of sleep easily and naturally. I have slept before and I can do it again.”

Schedule Your Sleep Cycle: Commit to going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time. If you can’t fall asleep or you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep use the EFT tapping technique or the Levity product as suggested in this article.