Only calm will save us

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Ostatnia aktualizacja: 2020-04-22. Autor: Milena

Only calm will save us. We’ve probably heard it many times, but what does it look like in practice?

In March I asked you for tips what to do to fall asleep. What to do to calm down your thoughts and peacefully sail away into the embrace of Morpheus. This spring is a time of changes for me. Partly expected, partly unexpected. For sure – important. But I’ll say more about it later. The clue is that as I normally have no problems with sleeping, this spring I wasn’t able to sleep.

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The numer of thoughts, which were appearing in my head right before falling asleep, the numer of ideas, options, solutions, things to check… Everything had to be ready for tomorrow, because I have no time, because now, immediately, I have to make a decision, I have to know, I have to, I have to, I have to…

My „I have to” was a reason of my numerous sleepless nights.

I was laying down at my normal time – 10-11 p.m. And I was rolling over until 1-2 a.m. And when I managed to fall asleep earlier, I was waking up at night anyway. More or less three times. Each time for at least half an hour. Or two.

As you can imagine, I turned a zombie.

My contact with the world was limited, I was constantly tired, I didn’t feel like seeing almost anybody. I worked as crazy, I wouldn’t prepare proper food, my head wouldn’t stop working. I was catching consecutive infections – and I knew it’s a result of exhaustion and stress.

That’s why I decided to finish it.

I asked you about your methods to fall asleep – and I got some ideas from you. As I promised, I’m describing them. I added some of mine as well, which came to my mind later. Maybe they turn out to be useful for some of you as well!

Mind-calming techniques

1. Mindfulness meditation

I’m putting them at the beginning, because they were showing up very regularly. I was getting information about them on my profile and in private messages. And… I will tell you that it’s not really for me. I tried many kinds of meditation and they were getting on my nerves instead of calming me down. Maybe I don’t fully understand the sense of meditation. Maybe I expect the effects too quickly. Maybe what I experience is normal. I know just one thing – when I try to imagine that I’m on a beautiful meadow, I end up with a higher level of stress than I had before starting the exercise.

But this is me. For you it can have a completely different effect. And I admit that I haven’t tested recommended applications for meditation. One – because they asked me for my credit card details already during the registration for the trial. The other – because it sends notifications. I normally switch off all the notifications from different applications. I want to be the one ruling my life, I don’t want the applications to do it for me.

However, I know that for many of you the applications and notifications are very helpful, so give it a try! The applications that were recommended to me are Calm and Headspace. Supposedly great. If I finally decide to use them, I will let you know about the results of my tests!

2. Yoga nidra

There is, however, one type of meditation that did work for me. It’s yoga nidra. Yoga nidra is a yoga of mind, yoga of mental sleep. Its idea is to stay at the border between the external and internal world. It puts us into the state of deep relaxation, it releases tensions and enables a deep contact with oneself.

In practice, you have to lay down in a comfortable position, make sure that you’re warm enough, play the record (it’s so called guided meditation) and follow the narrator’s instructions. I heard about focusing energy first on my breath and later on individual parts of my body.

I was surprised how easily I came in it. And what a good influence it had on me. When my problems with sleep were the worst, this technique really helped me. I admit, though, that after a few days I wasn’t able to stay conscious until the end of the exercise, because… I was falling asleep during it!

3. Grounding

Joga nidra przypomniała mi znane mi od lat ćwiczenie znane jako grounding – uziemianie. To ćwiczenie, które wykonuje się w stanach paniki i zaburzonego kontaktu z samym sobą i z rzeczywistością. Jest ono bardzo proste, ale bardzo skuteczne. Na czym polega?

Yoga nidra reminded me of an excercise which I’ve known for years. It’s called grounding. It’s recommended in panic moments and when one’s contact with themselves and with the reality gets disrupted. It’s very easy but very effective. What does it work like?

Sit in a comfortable position. Breathe slowly. Look around.
Find 5 things that you can see.
4 things that you can touch.
3 things that you can hear.
2 things that you can smell.
1 thing that you can taste.

Call these things, observe them, contemplate them. It works. And what’s important – you don’t need to have your phone charged and with an appropriate record on it!

4. Breathing exercises

You reminded me also of breathing ecercises. They also work. And also don’t require a phone!

You can practice breathing with one of the mentioned applications, but you can also easily relax just following your own breath. Inhale for a few seconds (it’s good to count), hold your breath for a moment slowly exhale. And one more time.

For the beginners, I recommend starting in a lying position. Such a position helps relaxation – and that’s what we want. In this position especially we, women, finally breathe correctly, meaning – using our diaphragm.

Lay down on your back and start breathing freely. Pt your hand on your belly. Can you feel how your belly is going up and down? It’s a natural process, it means that the diaphragm is working and our body gets right amount of oxygen.

Breathing exercises used to be my thing. I trained a lot in the theater, and later I forgot about it. It’s time to come back to it, it provides me lifegiving oxygen!

Take care of yourself!

We can use relaxation techniques in critical situations. It’s worth practicing them also regularly, as prevention and to have better contact with our inner selves. But what’s worth introducing into our lives so that we don’t excite critical situations more often than the life excites them?

5. Put yourself on the first place.

You won’t help anybody if you’re a wreck of a man. Not without reason on the planes first you have to put on your oxygen mask, only then you help a child. Not without reason mountain rescuers check first if they are safe. Angry, frustrated, exhausted person won’t help anyone.

They won’t help themselves either. First you have to wind down, get enough sleep, nourish and move your body (physical activity enables production of loads of hormones necessary for our life and happiness – it’s a broad topic, for a separate article, now just this: move!), only then we can start our normal activity. We have to let our mind come back to its normal state.

Without rest there’s no work. Think about it. What do you tell your closest friend when she’s telling you, with her tongue hanging out, that she can’t take it anymore. Do you say: “You’re useless, just do it!” or maybe “Rest. You’re able to deal with everything, but first rest”? And what do you tell yourself?

6. Switch off the internet.

I have already written about it in the article „Włącz tryb online” (still only in Polish, English coming soon). The amounts of data which reach us through the internet is terrifying. The information overload causes anxiety, worse mood, a sense of “lost life”. I also catch myself on scanning photos on the Instagram and thinking how wonderful life somebody has. But I also show just a scratch of the reality. And of course I want to show the good parts. Because I like focusing on what’s good. But it’s not all of it.

Switching off the internet for an hour, a day, a weekend – it’s a really good choice. I also do such a detox sometimes. In fact, I should do it more often, so that I don’t need it as much as I do now. Last time when I switched off the internet for the whole weekend, I did more than I normally do during the whole week. I was productive in the real world. And calmer inside.

7. Make a plan.

The next thing that really helps me is a plan. When I know what I’m aiming for and I have lots of small things to do, I write them all down (even – or maybe “especially” – the tiniest ones) and I put them on a timeline. First this, then that. And it this doesn’t work out, I’ll do that. When I really need to see everything – I draw it. I take a piece of paper and a pen or a pencil (I really like writing with a pencil) and draw mind maps and timelines. It makes my screaming mind finally shut up because it can see that finally something is happening.

Our mind is our ally, although it’s always so clear. But we are evolutionally created in such a way that our mind is supposed to protect us. So if there’s a problem – our mind seeks solution.

But watch out – worrying is also perceived by our mind as acting. Because it’s an activity concentrated on a problem. Of course it doesn’t help to solve it but our mind doesn’t know that. Making a plan can help our mind see that we’re approaching the issue or that we’ll deal with it in an exact moment in the future. As a result, our mind switches off the worrying. For me it works.

8. Make a decision.

However, to make a plan, you need to make some decisions. And I admit that this was my weak point. I had one important decision to make. I was wondering so many times which option would be the best, I repeated myself so many times that I have to be rational… I was listening everyone around but me. Or maybe it was different – maybe I was afraid to hear what my inner voice was telling me. I was afraid what other people would say, I was afraid to make a mistake. Because I wasn’t acting… rationally. Not as we normally understand this word. I listened to my intuition.

It was my intuition that during one of my exam sessions told me to go for a play to one of the best theaters in Warsaw – and with simple theater performances start my beautiful adventure with theater, which lasted a few years. (And I always hope for more). It’s my intuition that during my master preparation told me to go for a concert with people that I didn’t know to a place that I didn’t know – and in this way get to know great musicians with whom it was a joy for me to work next years. It’s the intuition that told me to go somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean although I had no idea what was waiting there for me. But I knew that if I hadn’t tried, I would have regretted it until the end of my life. Today I’m glad that I took that plane.

Now I also listened to my intution – and I made a decision. True to myself. And I felt 100 kilos lighter. I threw off a burden and I felt myself again.

Since for me the biggest peace of mind is a result of living true to myself.

Life isn’t always colourful. It’s not always nice and pleasant. But it’s important. And we are important. And I repeat everybody around me, and I have to repeat myself often as well – my life is mine. We can’t please everybody around. Even Nutella can’t do it – I, for example, prefer two-colour creams. If Nutella can’t satisfy everybody, all the more can’t we. The most important person that we should try to satisfy is us.

As on the plane – first take care of yourself. My English teacher (best regards if you’re reading it – and sorry for all the mistakes) used to say: “If everyone takes care of themselves, it will be taken care of every everyone”. It’s true. If you live in peace with yourself, the world will stop being terrifying, it will start being friendly. Suddenly you’ll see more possibilities. More people warmly smiling to you. You will believe in the light in the tunel, even though the tunel is 8 km long and full of curves. And you will finally get to that light.

I had to remind myself how powerful my intuition is.

Trust it. Trust myself. Eventually, I am the biggest specialist in my own life, aren’t I? And the person feeling strongest the results of my decisions – it will be me.

I’m not sure what the future will bring me. I’m not sure where I will be in half a year. But I know that I’m grateful for everything that’s happened in my life in last weeks. Because it broke me free from a kind of lethargy, into which I didn’t know when I fell off. It forces me to do something and reorganize my head. To remind me who I am and what is really important to me. And you know what? It works! I feel like living!

Maybe this spring you can also clean up your mind? I recommend it. Especially offline!

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