I can count on one hand (actually, one finger) how many nights of uninterrupted sleep I’ve enjoyed over the last five or so weeks. It’s been incredibly important for me to figure out how to manage this change, since usually I’m a terrific sleeper who optimally gets at least seven hours of sleep a night. In case it helps anyone else, here are some of the ways that I’ve been coping:
1. Ask friends for sleep advice. Someone else I know (Hi, Steph!) is going through a weird sleep thing too, and we exchanged ideas on whether or not we should remain steadfastly in bed, embrace the insomnia and try to be productive, or get up and stretch or do something relaxing to try to induce sleep. (I haven’t settled on a strategy yet, so I am trying everything.)
2. Work at my meditation practice. Getting my sitting done is like getting my cardio in for the day. I tend to hate the thought of it, it can be one of the first things that falls off my schedule when I get busy, and when I need it most is when it’s the toughest to do. But as with exercise, when my mind and body get dangerously close to hitting rock bottom, I’m suddenly flooded with the desire to do what I should have been doing all along. This week I’ve managed to double the time of my meditation practice. I still set the timer for ten minutes so as not to pressure myself, but I’ve been resetting the alarm for another ten minutes after that.
3. Trick myself into yoga! I am ridiculously proud of how I’ve managed to do this, and go ahead and laugh because it’s really a silly trick. But it’s effective for me, which is what matters. Ready? I don’t unroll my mat. Because unrolling my mat in my mind tells me that I’m committed to a certain amount of time on it, and have to go through a certain sequence of poses, and then it’s just too much. If I just start with a couple of sun salutes on my rug, I found that I just start moving into the poses I feel like doing, and I continue until I want to lie in savasana.
4. Running up stairs. I used to dread this part of my morning exercise, but lately it’s been feeling really great.
5. Reading good literature and writing for pleasure. In grad school I made the foolish mistake of limiting my pleasure reading in order to make time for all the books I thought I “should read.” I’ve posted here before about how all my research for work left me deeply unsatisfied about my relationship to reading, and I can’t recall if I’ve written or just thought a lot about how it’s been a real challenge for me to hone my blogging voice because I’m so used to producing long-form pieces. Lately I feel like I’ve been able to better integrate my more literary side with my current work. I don’t view my blog as a marketing tool, so I take the opportunity to write posts that have nothing at all to do with any of the major themes of this blog.
6. Taking one day a week to work from home. I like to bring my best self to my meetings with people, but in order to do that, I need an inordinate amount of alone time to recharge. I usually take either a Monday or a Friday to catch up on some reading and do some thinking in the quiet of my home.
7. Eating nutrient-dense foods. In the heat of the summer I don’t feel like eating much, so I have to consciously make an effort to get in some fruit, veggies, and yogurt. Depending on if I’m in the NYU area or at the Alley for lunch, I’ve been picking food up at Organic Avenue and the Picnic Basket.
8. Reaching out for love! This week has been especially intense, so on Tuesday after I’d given two different people blank stares when they asked about “my weekend” (What weekend?), I gave my mom a call and walked over to her place for some TLC. Yes, I actually took a break from work for this.
If you have any tips of your own for handling stressful times, do share!