30 Days of Meditation Challenge: Day 1

Sigh. Like every night for the past month, I didn’t sleep well. It’s not the worst sleep I’ve had by far, but I wouldn’t say it was great either. I suppose it was better than earlier this month – multiple nights of only a few hours of sleep at a time can be really draining. 😦

The insomnia has been a big source of stress for me. I don’t take well to being tired – it prevents me from focusing, which makes it harder to get things done, which in turn stresses me out more…and makes the insomnia worse. I can’t confirm for sure that the insomnia is caused by stress, but I highly suspect it is because it has only appeared during stressful life situations (company shutting down and moving from a quiet suburb to a busy city + starting a new job). Hence this challenge!

I’ve decided the best time to meditate is any time I start “stressing out”. It usually starts with not feeling too energetic (because of the insomnia), which then compounds into hours thinking (read: obsessing) about the situation. Instead of letting myself get into downward spirals about stress, I will try to nip things in the bud with things that help clear my mind.

Some things I’m considering:

  • Adult coloring books – I have a handful of these already, and they really calm me down! I used to spend hours drawing and painting as a kid. In fact, the first time I experienced “flow” was in art class, where I felt like I could paint forever. The main reasons I haven’t been using them more often is because they’re challenging to use at night, when I wear blue-blocking sunglasses. It’s no fun coloring if you can’t see what colors you’re using! I definitely could use them in the morning and on the weekends, though.
  • Spoonk acupressure mat – I bought one of these a few years ago. I’m not sure it works, but others say it helps them relax. Maybe I’m not using it correctly? After all, the website says “The Spoonk™ Mat was born out of compassion for people who experience a lack of deep sleep, tension and muscular pain, or stress and anxiety.” Sounds just like me! 😛
  • emWave2 – This is a little biofeedback machine that’s supposed to help you learn to destress. You clip it onto your ear, and it tells you how calm you are. It’s worked very well for me in the past, but I always stop using it when things get better. I’m going to try to make it a daily habit for when I wake up and before I go to bed.
  • Enjoying the outdoors – I’ve found that nature really calms me down. There’s just something about the great outdoors that helps me clear my mind. Unfortunately, I live in a city now – so there aren’t rolling outdoor trails – but I’m lucky that there’s a nice park next to my office where people regularly picnic and sunbathe. Now that I (finally) have a building key, I’ve decided to walk to the park when I feel stressed at work.
  • Practicing gratitude – Along with meditating, I’ve decided that I need to up my gratitude game once again. A couple months back, I tried out a 30 Day Gratitude Challenge where I blogged about 5 things I’m grateful for every day. One of the profound effects is I was not only happier, but also a lot calmer! I’m sad to admit I haven’t been doing the best job keeping up with my gratitude journal – I made it 2 months, but I stopped writing in it as the life changes started to build up. I’m going to start it again and use the Strides app I mentioned in my productivity challenge to keep myself accountable.
  • Journaling – One technique I picked up from social anxiety therapy was to write down the source of anxiety, and then evidence that supports/contradicts my fear. Being able to write it down often helped me realize that the “worst case scenario” was unlikely and even if it were to happen, I’d be able to cope. I’ve applied the technique to anxiety in the past, which has really helped. It’s not exactly meditation, but I figured I’d mention it since it does help with the stress.
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