Time to make safe anchorage--peace after busy day.
Sleep deprivation is a very prominent issue in many of our lives. Depending on circumstances or experiences, life can be cruel at times producing stress activators.
While talking with others who have experienced a great deal of stress or grief we all have specific issues in common: sleep deprivation and poor health. This creates a very miserable existence.
Sleep patterns are disrupted due to many issues. When “Sleep Deprivation” was first written, it was geared for grief. However, with a few changes anyone suffering from sleep deprivation may be benefited.
When our spouse passes away (or for those of you under too much happening all at once) we are flooded with more emotions than our brain can possibly process. All at once our world we knew, our reality, has been ripped away leaving us feeling: scared, lonely, worry, fear, sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, confusion and so much more. Think about that for a moment. We are talking some pretty intense emotions that “we” as humans are not accustomed to dealing with all at once. The brain is on overstress.
Our brain is the most complex organ in our body. Putting this very simply; it sends and receives messages throughout our entire body. It also produces a variety of chemicals needed to function well, be balanced, assists our immune system and our emotions. When faced with major traumas, stressful events and life changing situations our brain kicks in and hits hyper-drive so to say. Not only is it receiving, also it is responding to such unimaginable sensations. The extreme sensations cause releases of neurotransmitters and chemicals such as serotonin (winding down to sleep), noradrenalin (energy) and dopamine (Central Nervous System). If our brain is overstressed, we suffer physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
What can we do about this hyper-drive?
Fortunately, a balance will return when we begin to to cope with our situation. As time progresses we are struggling to cope as our brain begins to cope also. This takes time, more for some than others. Just when we think all is well, the process then begins again. This would be “trigger mechanisms” at work. Find those triggers by keeping a journal. This situation will resolve, sometimes in time, and sometimes we need specialized help.
Not only specialized help may be needed, but also learning how to help ourselves. It is imperative to rest because without that rest, our brain continues to work sorting out what it is supposed to do. Meanwhile, more chemicals are released into our body. Wow, now we have a pronounced emotional overload making our grieving process or stressor far worse. We, as individuals, who have lost our loved one, increase our risk of becoming seriously ill by 27% due to sleep deprivation. Those who are traumatized or overstressed also increase health risks.
I’m listing few simple suggestions that may promote the ability to relieve some symptoms. One or more have helped many other individuals including myself. In turn, this also gives our brain a break allowing us to eventually the ability to sleep more than two hours at a time. The suggestions are harmless and can be achieved even if we have to take sleeping pills temporarily. I will later address a topic promoting alternatives to sleeping pills and why; for now, let’s work on what we can.
1. Create a journal. Limit your time writing in it. Allow yourself 15 minutes and then, move on to something else. Go back to it again. Try not to fixate on just the journal unless you just have to get it all out!
2. Exercise. Try to take care of yourself by eating and exercising at least 30 minutes a day even if it’s just a walk around the block. It doesn’t need to be high impact, you can choose yoga and Tai Chi. Healthy eating can be expensive, but do the best you can do. At least try to eat some “comfort” foods that are healthy.
3. Guided Imagery. This is basically giving our brain certain cues to turn off the adrenalin and make way for sleep. It is highly effective. Weird, what is it? Guided Imagery, I am not promoting this site, but it does explain the process well.
4. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. A glass of wine is not so bad and may help sleep, but keep in mind, alcohol is a depressant escalating “bring you down further” emotions. It also just deadens us and can create a situation where it prolongs the pain or adding another stress issue.
5. Massage. Believe it or not, and if you can afford it, a massage will help release tension. This slows down the hyper-active adrenalin. If you are on a tight budget find a local massage school near you. Rates may be affordable.
6. Accept your grief, stress or address the trauma. As much as we don’t want to go there, if we accept we hurting and what is causing it, this is a major step to reducing confusion, frustrations and feeling lost. At times we do need a psychologist, therapist, Father, or an individual to help us sort it all out.
7. Boundaries. It is alright to draw boundaries for what you feel like telling or sharing with individuals. Boundaries are healthy. Here is an excellent post on “Boundaries.”
8. Herbal Tea and Aromatherapy. Blends of teas exist that can aid in calming over-anxious brain activity. You can try one on the market or consult with a herbalist. They can work, but sometimes a blend has to be created especially for you.
9. Draw Your Emotions. Why not try drawing, scribbling or making a masterpiece. Art allows you to express what you cannot otherwise express. Have a notebook and some colored pencils. It doesn’t have to look like anything. It’s just another way of releasing some of that overwhelming grief and built up stress.
10. Memory Box. This is the same concept as art, only you are placing the most precious memories for safe keeping. This can be handed down for your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. You can even place your journal in it for safe-keeping. Also, this is also a wonderful way of working out your stress. Try cutting out pictures and words or phrases from magazines. Glue them to make a collage on the box of what you are feeling and what is bothering you. Meanwhile write or find pictures to place that are solutions to your stress. Place bills or journal anything represents or has your stress into the box. At the very least you’ll know where you put the bills, and importantly if the journal reflects what you felt, then given time you can begin to find solutions.