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Mental Trick to Help You Fall Asleep Fast
At one time or another, everyone has been there; lying in bed, stressed out, exhausted, but unable to sleep, staring at the clock, counting down how many hours you have left before the alarm goes off. It’s a pretty sure thing that stress is what woke you up to begin with and now the stress of not falling asleep is what’s keeping you awake.
One of the most common causes of insomnia is stress. Stress from worrying about what happened that afternoon and stress about what might happen tomorrow. Many people who suffer from insomnia will tell you that they are tired when they get into bed but they can’t find a way to shut off their brains and they are constantly running through the events of the day, what they should have done, what they wish they hadn’t said, etc. etc.
This is how they lose the ability to be in the present moment, focusing on their breathing and relaxing, allowing sleep to overtake them. This is called mindfulness.
Mindfulness is based in Buddhist meditation, but many Western medical doctors are beginning to recognize that mindfulness is a successful treatment for anxiety as well as depression (read more how to treat anxiety). Subjects who practice it have noticed that, when they stop taking a judgmental stand, just accepting the present for what it is and not concentrating on the future or worrying about the past, they have dramatic improvements in their lives, including, but certainly not limited to, falling asleep quickly and getting that good night’s rest.
When we stop thinking about the present moment, our minds tend to get stuck in maladaptive ways of thinking. Being mindful can allow us to take a step back, put ourselves in the present and become aware of some of these habits that take us off track and away from some of the truly important things in life, such as, sleep!
Mindful meditation involves training the mind to focus on the act of mediation itself – being in the moment, breathing, perhaps even repeating a certain mantra – to bring about a state of relaxation. Being mindful allows us to have a greater awareness of the present moment in time and not get stuck going in circles with thoughts that take us out of the moment we are living in.
Mindfulness takes some practice, however. Although it’s difficult to be mindful at all times, you can learn how to be mindful at times when you really need it. Begin with trying to be mindful for just one minute at a time. Then work up to 5 minutes. It’s sort of like working a mental muscle that needs to be strengthened, and that takes a little time, but you can do it.
Turn those simple moments in life into mindfulness exercises. For example, during your pedicure, perhaps while they are massaging your leg, try to be in that moment, and focus solely on the calming, relaxing feelings of getting your feet and leg massaged. If your mind starts to wander and begins to think things such as what you will do when you leave the building or what you will make for dinner, don’t judge yourself, this takes practice, simply return your thoughts to the massage and how good it feels.
You can try to eat mindfully, too. An easy way to practice mindfulness is to do so while eating. We eat several times a day but we are usually talking to others, watching TV, reading, or checking our phone. Being mindful while eating has been proven to help with weight loss since we are usually too distracted to notice what or how much we are eating. Pay attention to the color, shape, smell and temperature of your food. Once you put that first forkful in your mouth, notice where it goes inside your mouth, how does it taste, what is the texture like, how does the texture change as you chew? Should your mind wander off, simply notice that it did so, and get it back on track again.
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Mindfulness takes a lot of practice, but its well worth the effort. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. In fact, take a break right now and practice being mindful of your surroundings for just one minute. Once you begin to get the hang of it, you will begin to crave more mindful moments from your day. Hopefully, in a few weeks, you will find that it’s super easy to quiet your mind at night, and fall asleep with little or no trouble at all. What a wonderful delight that would be, wouldn’t it?