I usually have a hard time falling asleep. Even when I’m exhausted, my anxiety seems to thrive during the night, and it can take me hours to just doze off.

I’ve started to become more conscious of my body while I’m lying down. A lot of my limbs are stiff, clenched hands, crooked neck, etc.
I started to do a big stretch while I’m in bed to help loosen me up, but the real culprit here is my hands/wrists.
When my anxiety washes over, my hands can be found in awkward positions, so I’ve started to lay them flat by my side (or on my stomach) while controlling my breathing.
This act alone has been making me fall asleep almost instantly; I couldn’t believe it.

However, when the anxiety is a little too much some nights, I rely on “Sleep Stories.”

I listen to these through the Calm app, but you can easily find some free ones online.
I find some can be hit or miss, especially the voices of the actors, but with the few that DO help (and are saved in my favourite) they are AH-mazing

Here’s a link to a free one from one of my favourites, Erik Braa – I could seriously listen to him all night

If you do suffer from sleeping disorders, unfortunately, I don’t think my suggestions would help, but it doesn’t hurt to try! When worst comes to worst, I rely on Zzzquil, which is medicinal. There is no shame in needing medication to help you fall asleep

Why is sleep so important?
It helps with your optimal health: concentration, productivity, emotions and social interactions.
Having a poor sleep can affect your weight, immune system and overall mental health.
It might be hard to practice in the middle of a pandemic, but I urge you to try and get in a better routine. Remember, our mental health during this phase is extremely important and we’re all in this together

Before I end the year with my personal reflections, I thought it might be helpful for my readers to know what I usually do to keep my anxiety at bay

The best thing that anyone can do is make their own type of routine, or what I call, a “toolkit” of habits. This is just a general guideline, and some of my habits might not work for everyone, but it’s better to start somewhere than nowhere at all.

(1) Get a good nights sleep 

Easier said than done, I know – but I invested in blackout curtains, and it has been a complete game-changer to ensure that I get a good quality sleep. Others can invest in earplugs, white noise machines, or ASMR videos. Whatever it is to help you get the best sleep, DO IT. Get into a good routine and stick to it.

(2) Make yourself a morning person

I used to enjoy nights and staying up late, but I noticed that all of the overthinking that I would inevitably do happened around this time. I can’t stop it for the most part, but I saw that going to bed early did make me a better person and more cheerful in the morning. I try to practice some meditation each morning, through the app “Calm” to get my day started

(3) Make sure you get exercise

Not saying to go overboard here, but if you can get at least 3 days of working out into your schedule, you’ll notice that you won’t be that walking zombie. It’s been hard for me to get back into the groove of things since having a baby, and I feel lethargic. I downloaded the app “7M Workout” to help me get back, even this small step is helpful to focus on something other than your anxiety.

(4) Write

You don’t have to be as public as I am with my blog, but if you start journaling, you’ll see that it can help process your thoughts. Even if it’s just a couple of words of how you feel or a sentence of what happened – it’ll help.

(5) Limit Social Media 

A lot of people have FOMO, but I’ve noticed that the more time I spend on social media, the more anxious I am over news and expectations. Since having a kid, it’s been easier to not log on regularly, and I’m so much happier not knowing everything all the time.

This can be hard for some people, but a significant first step for this is to not login several hours before you go to bed. It makes it so much simpler to fall asleep

(6) Watch Horror Movies

This probably sounds weird, but if you allow yourself to release all your anxiety in a safe space, then you’ll find that you can get less anxious throughout the day. My release is horror movies in the comfort of my own home during the daylight because I’m a wuss.

Don’t forget

If you find yourself in a panic attack the best thing you can do is practice grounding and breathing exercises

grounding tech

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had some trouble with my sleeping. It started when I was in elementary school; I would excuse myself from morning class and go straight to the administration office and ask if I could take a nap in the nurse’s room. They always obliged, but when it became more frequent, they called up my mother and started asking questions about my schedule at home. Even though I followed the same routine nightly, I never could get the full amount of sleep that my body was craving (At the age of 32 I can still attest to this statement!)

I remember trying to doze off to the radio that I was permitted to listen to for a little while before my mother came in to shut it off. Once those tunes stopped, my brain would start to race. Even at a young age, I was still spinning with ideas and thoughts – not knowing how to turn it all off. Sometimes I would try to ignore it, pinch my eyes tightly and wait for them to subside. Other nights it wasn’t so simple, and I would lie awake in my bed trying to “count sheep” as my mother asked me to do so often.

Once my mother passed away, I was stricken with insomnia. I was barely a teenager at this point, and the anxiety was starting to grow more within. My usual method to try and combat this was to stay up and read, however, most of the books I got my hands on were too good to put down, and I wouldn’t end up sleeping. I never confided in my adoptive father about these issues; it was hard enough to talk to him about everything that was happening inside of me since he saw me as a weak person. He would sometimes see me up at the wee hours of the morning and demand that I go to bed, never asking what I was still doing up or if I needed anything. I would turn off my light and pretend that I would, but I would always lie awake staring at my ceiling fan while my thoughts took over.

When I started college, I mentioned how bad my insomnia was to my then doctor, after I was up for 72 hours straight. He decided to prescribe me sleeping pills instead of asking me any other questions, and I thought that would be my solution to it all. After several months, I noticed that I would take my pills every night even when it wasn’t warranted. I was scared that I was getting addicted to them, so instead of discussing it with my doctor, I went off of them entirely. It was tough to adjust back to a full night’s sleep at first, but after several weeks I was starting to sleep better. Months went by, and my insomnia seemed to be at bay – but, I would still only pull 4-5 hours a night at best, no matter how early I went to bed.

During this time my anxiety was developing tenfold. I was still unaware of what was happening to me since I was consumed by my toxic atmosphere. I would lie awake, pleading with my body to go to bed, but instead, my mind was on full blast:

I forgot to put that one dish in the sink tonight; they’re going to be so mad at me for that. Do I need to remember tomorrow to write them a note so they don’t think that I’m mad at them for no reason, which reminds me, maybe I can offer to take them out for dinner? I know I barely make any money as it is, but they’re just always so mad at me, maybe I can show them that I can be responsible and they’ll change their mind? Who am I kidding myself, no one likes me and no one ever will. They’re entirely right when they say that I’m a loner and have no friends. I’m just going to die alone; I might be dying right now and not even know. Would they even be sad? Yeah, right, Andrea.

Even though I got out of that toxic environment late, I still battle with some form of these thoughts some nights. Recently, I couldn’t even tell you what’s been going on in my mind; I feel as if I’m being pushed in so many directions that it doesn’t even make sense to me at this point. Last night, I was in bed worrying about paint colours. PAINT. COLOURS.

The thing is, I know that these thoughts are contributing to me not sleeping and no matter how many hot baths, essential oils, teas, etc. I try – nothing can calm my anxious mind. But as you can see, since I was a little girl I’ve just been adapting to my sleeplessness. I have better nights than I used to, and I can honestly say I haven’t been hit with insomnia in several years (yay!), but my sleeplessness will always be around the corner since I’m stuck with my ever gracious anxiety. Luckily I have fur babies to cuddle to make me feel better about it

If you suffer from the same symptom, know that you’re not alone – and there are SO many options that you can try to help combat it. Just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you!