Listen to your body & mind

Have you ever heard the phrase “sleep when you die”? What do you think of when you hear it?

As a counsellor by trade and an all round sensitive soul; words impact me greatly. I recall being taught in university that every word and phrase is valuable in the process of communication and therapy. I tapped into this as I truly believe that the words we choose or our subconscious chooses to use, expresses more about what’s being said. This effected my practice and relationships in a way that was both a curse and a cure.

If you didn’t already know, I’m Welsh by heritage. In Wales it’s quite common to see individuals speaking with their hands and using phrases that although spoken in English are a bit trivial and sound like a joke. “I’ll be there now, in a minute” as amusing as it sounds, when determining an ETA this makes complete sense to me. Not quite now, not quite in a minute but very soon!

Wherever you come from, we can agree that communication from destination to destination and from one relationship to another. Being understood is the difference between our personal opinions and emotions being valued and undervalued. As I’ve blogged about before, our personal stories are to be treasured and not to be thrown out into the open sea to be caught by any wave passing by. The same goes for the reverse of this. If we catch on to any opinion, trend or emotion that flies our way, we open ourselves up to be deeply affected by things that hold no benefit or positive outcome both ways.

In real time, imagine being a parent in the school yard who socially attracts many individuals! You are unoffcially the friend, the Mum, the teacher assistant, the governor, the mediator and the taxi! How exhausting. Your capacity to offer quality understanding and support to each of these roles fluctuate, people will feel let down and you will burn out emotionally. The same goes for the content we expose ourselves too on a daily basis.

The phrase “sleep when you die” to me is a backwards motivation to get stuff done. It bothered me for a while, with 2 kids at the time and one on the way, all I wanted to do was sleep! Even now with 3 young children, sleep in my constant goal. I had this pressure taunting me though, that people were achieving more with their time, while I was cleaning up after kids and craving sleep.

These type of phrases communicate to a very impressionable generation, that you are going to miss out if you don’t chase that money or promotion! In reality, in order to create a smooth path of wellbeing and professional success you will need more than lack of sleep.

By surrounding yourself with stimulation for your mind, whether this is reading a new book or blog! Creating a daily space to find peace through meditation and prayer, eating well and most importantly listening to your bodies call to rest. We may not be able to control all the trends or communication we come in contact with, but how we react is down to each of us. We may have to feel the pressure of fire phrases before we understand if it’s relevant or not, but the next time we know to do a U turn and seek positivity in our interactions with this world.

Half term for Mums

We are now coming to the end of half term, it’s been seven days of rain, seven days of tantrums, seven days of “I need a snack” immediately after a meal. To top it all off we’re currently in lockdown and with the prospect of two inset day…(two!!) I am frazzled.

But despite all of this, yesterday we had one window of dry weather. I chucked clothes on the kids and we ran over to the park, which was the same idea of many other families in the area. I have to be honest, with three kids I’m past that point of being eager to make Mum friends at the park but just being around other human beings and having brief conversations we realise we need social interaction to survive this.

Being outside in nature is also essential and when I say nature I do mean the road side path on our return from Lidl. All four of us looked up and saw these magnificent trees that we had not noticed before. We collected pine cones to decorate and spoke about what little christmas character decorations we could produce from these common treasures found on cars and the pine grass.

We all have different coping mechanisms for times of stress, some of us are extremely disciplined when it comes to dealing with stress… others of us lack motivation. Whatever person you find yourself to be, don’t be restricted by the pressures that we hold in our chests. Like ripping off a plaster, close your eyes and run into the opportunity to be outside with no plan or expectations. Always have a coat with pockets, with a bottle of hand sanitizer and water for the kids. No baggage, no concerns about forgetting something. Survive a mini outing with minimal resources, this will train you to let go of a few minor concerns. Nature heals and so does incorporating doable activities into the daily routine, this could be as simple as putting your phone or washing up down and singing silly songs with the kids for 10 minutes. The kids will probably want to do activities all day or evening then but don’t be ashamed to pause and explain that it’s time to move on to something else now. We need to manage our own limits and similarly teach our children to manage theirs.

Simple steps to rest

After a non stop day and a non stop evening, the biggest favour you can do yourself is aim for the simple things. We all know that feeling of lugging ourselves up the stairs to bedfordshire, wishing for the kids to be neatly tucked up in bed ready for a full night sleep, instead we enter the battlefield. Bedding, toys, cups, paper and books everywhere, the moment the kids realise that they do actually have stuff to play with and all of sudden they have to read, do that puzzle or writing for school. The angelic Mum in me says “These are precious moments, opportunities to let the kids express themselves” but more often than not the dragon Mum in me blows an imaginary whistle telling the prisoners to get back to their cells. Okay maybe that is a bit harsh, but in reality we all have to draw a line under the activities of the day by letting go of that Mum guilt and allow time for recuperation.
After battling with the kids, my husband is already catching some Z’s before his night shift. At this stage it is all too easy for me to just fall into bed like someone has got me with a tranquilizer. But the house is the quietest its been all day and I could do something really productive like watch that episode of Our Girl while Googling ‘Join the Army’ and swiftly agreeing that it’s probably a bad idea as I may lose my glasses in combat. We can waste our time on so many irrelevant things that in that moment we believe is the right thing to do in order to focus on ourselves.

The world has so much to offer to help us get a better night sleep and we are surrounded by dreamy celebrity nighttime routines, but how often do we start those routines only to see it as another chore? There’s no shame in accepting that a 10 step routine is just too long! unless going to the toilet is counted? which I might add is an excellent opportunity for that peace and quiet we all crave… unless the kids are still awake, then you’re just on your porcelain stage and they’re all clapping. This is not toilet humour, but reality people. Continuing…
Overtime I’ve learnt that the best rest comes not just when I’m sleeping but in the moments of peace beforehand. The call of bed is strong to me, I’ve always been a woman who needs her sleep but I make an effort now to at the very least cleanse my face and moisturise it before sleep. I can rest easy then that I wont awake to a face of smudged mascara… asking my reflection “did we go out last night??”. Rest is more than just sleep, so however many things you could be doing it’s vital that we stop and remind ourselves that if we wind down to bed, we often gain better quality sleep and therefore gain a tad more energy for the day ahead. You can check out my top tips for good rest below.

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My top tips for getting that good good rest are:

  1. Don’t overwhelm yourself with beauty products, just have the everyday essentials in clear view (save face masks, hair removal, conditioning etc for another opportunity for self care).
  2. Keep a pack of cleansing wipes next to your bed, just in case. I use Simple Biodegradable facial wipes, they’re mild on the skin and the environment! Good feels before sleep.
  3. Learn a few basic facial techniques (I often find slapping myself in the face a couple times before bed to be quite relaxing) In all seriousness, it makes me slow down and become mindful of how my body is feeling.
  4. Have a hot drink, I just love a good cup of English tea but I occasionally enjoy some warm/hot milk with grated nutmeg and cinnamon mixed in.
  5. Do a few basic stretches just to shake that day off.

    (Please check with your Dr if you’re unsure if any of this is suitable, especially if you’re pregnant).