Why has the election fever affected my sleep? Really, why?
Is it because I was worried about my favorite candidate losing the election? Was I worried that the wrong candidate getting elected would affect my family's future and quite possibly the whole world's?
Was it the barrage of election information on TV, radio and social media and the never-ending emails?
What prop on the ballot should I have voted in favor of and why? Was it really going to matter?
If you found yourself in a similar conundrum it is not unexpected. As we have turned ourselves into the most connected generation to exist in human history, we have also over burdened our minds with all kinds of information.
It is not just the election season that had our minds going constantly. Hurricane Sandy and its disturbing images have been on our minds this week, too. Add to that everything else happening in our lives: kids, parents, jobs, relationships, health care, gas prices, taxes, money and so on.
Every day in my sleep medicine practice I see people who don't even recognize that they are stressed out. Our minds are like a jet ready to take off, and the body is screaming to keep us grounded, sometimes making us hurt to get our attention.
What we have miserably failed to do as the most connected generation is to learn to relax. We talk more about it than actually doing something about it. Relaxing does not necessarily mean going on a vacation to the beach and sipping a martini or sitting at home watching football, eating pizza and drinking beer.
Learning to relax means figuring out how to clear your mind of the information overload. It means having time to do nothing. It means recharging your mind and body so that they can function at full capacity, not replacing that high energy, high stress work with another similar activity, like constantly texting, tweeting and following the news.
Let me give you a few tips here on what I am doing these days to get the balance back in my life:
1. Schedule 30 minutes in your busy day to "do nothing," absolutely nothing!
2. Turn off your cell phone, computer, iPad and every lighted screen around you.
3. Pay attention to how your muscles tighten up with stress. Stretch. Loosen up your arms and legs. Bend your back forward, backward and sideways. Massage your neck and shoulders.
4. Breathe deeply. Breathe in slowly as far as you comfortably can, then slowly exhale all the way.
5. Close your eyes and be thankful for all that you have. Visualize a pleasurable experience at your favorite place or in the company of your favorite person.
6. Repeat every day.
Life is short. Relax, sleep well and enjoy every moment!
For more by Amer Khan, M.D., click here.
For more on stress, click here.