The holiday season is a lot of fun — but it can also be hectic and stressful. This is especially true if it's your first holiday season after divorce. Divorce is a major life transition — and a major stressor. Of all the things that get disrupted during this transition, sleep is at the top of the list.
Most people need a minimum of 6 to 7 hours of sleep each night. A lack of sleep increases the opportunity for disease, and can affect your weight and personality, among other things. Make sleep a priority — it's an important part of self-care.
So, what steps can you take to start sleeping well again? First, see a clinician to rule out any medical issues that might be contributing to your sleeplessness. If your health is not an issue, it's time for a "divorce detox" or cleanse.
10 strategies to rest and recharge:
- Create a support system. You are grieving a loss, and you may experience sadness, depression and anger. A lack of sleep intensifies these emotions. Share your feelings with a family member or close friend. If you don't feel comfortable doing that, seek out a support group or see a licensed therapist.
- Take a shower. This literal cleansing will refresh you – how you start your day sets the tone for the rest of the day. Not surprisingly, post-divorce, even showering can be difficult. Set a reminder on your phone, and do it.
- Get physically active. Engage in at least 15 to 20 minutes of physical activity every day. Take a walk, join a gym or play a sport. Be sure to get some sunshine, too!
- Nourish your body with healthy foods and water. Throughout the day, drink at least half your body weight in ounces. Stay away from processed, salty and fatty foods and choose natural, whole foods instead.
- Declutter. If you're feeling overwhelmed by your environment, take 15 to 20 minutes a day to declutter. Surround yourself with things that inspire you. When you free up space in your home, you free up space in your mind.
- Donate. It feels good to give to others, and it takes the focus off of yourself. Donating is a great way to give away the things you find you don't need when you declutter.
- Do things that make you happy — and lots of them. If nothing seems to make you happy right now, think back to what made you happy before the divorce. Get a new haircut, take a Zumba class or plan a weekend away.
- Meditate. Yoga nidra is guided meditation that you can easily download for free from resources like iTunes and YouTube. The benefit is huge – two 20-minute sessions or one 40-minute session of yoga nidra equate to three hours of blissful sleep. Set an intention, such as "I am able to heal my wounds."
- Activate positivity. This is easier than you may think. When you find yourself in moments of negativity, redirect your attention to your pre-frontal cortex using the 5-Second Rule. Simply count backwards: 5-4-3-2-1, and you will feel the shift from the right side of the brain to the pre-frontal cortex.
- Mindfulness cleansing. Set aside time during the day to reflect on what's going on in your life and how you feel. If you don't, your thoughts and emotions will come up once your head hits the pillow. Do a brain dump. In addition to mindfulness cleansing, jot down your thoughts in a notebook. Anything you're thinking — get it out of your head, and onto paper. Keep a notepad and pen by your bed, too. If you have a nagging thought when you're trying to sleep, write it down. This helps minimize anxiety because you can visually see it so you don't have to think about it anymore.
Change can take time, so be sure to acknowledge the small wins. If it was taking you an hour to fall asleep before and now it's taking 30 minutes, relish your progress. Make a commitment to make sleep a priority. You have the power to change your life.