The journey to greatness and to achieving your goals is like running a long marathon. If you sprint to get there faster, you’ll only end up crashing mid-race. Our body is not a productivity machine. I’ve learned this the hard way and overworked my body into chronic fatigue. It was a terrible place to get caught in and it took two long years from my body to gradually recover back to normal again. I realised that there is no point in speeding towards one’s destination if one ends up crashing en-route and not arriving. To go further and longer in this marathon of life, you’ll need regular quality rest to restore your mind and body.
Here are eight steps to getting great rest for your body.
1. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep and to wake up and sleep the same time every day.
Set a bedtime alarm to remind yourself that it’s time for bed.
If you struggle to go to bed early, try the alternative method of forcing yourself to wake up extra early one day. You’ll feel so tired by the time night falls that you’ll be in bed at the time you need to be or earlier!
To reduce social jet lag, it is key that you sleep and wake up at around the same hour every day, even on the weekends.
2. Catnap for 10 to 20 minutes before 4pm instead of reaching for the second cup of coffee.
If you have the luxury of time, nap for 60 to 90 minutes to feel fully rested.
If you can’t get some shut-eye, do some light stretches, go for a walk and get some fresh air, wash your face to feel refresh or get some green juice.
3. Meditate for 10 to 20 minutes every day.
If you’re new to meditation, use an app like Calm or Get Some Headspace to guide you.
Alternatively, practise belly breathing. Place one hand on your belly. As you inhale through your nose, feel your belly expand and as you exhale through your mouth, feel your belly contract. Make each exhalation last twice as long as each inhalation. Repeat the cycle till you feel calm and relaxed.
4. Have a warm shower 1.5 to 2 hours before bed.
When you go from a hot shower to a cooler bedroom, your body temperature will drop and signal to your body that it’s time to rest and slow down.
Personally, taking hot baths is one of my favourite ways to unleash the tension in my mind and body. To supercharge the relaxation session, I would sprinkle a few drops of lavender oil and play some soothing ambient music in the background.
5. Unwind at least an hour before bed.
Have a playlist of soothing music or baby lullaby music (e.g. http://bit.ly/1FbDB4i), do some light reading on non-work related subjects such as fiction and practice bedtime yoga.
To relax, burn some essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, sandalwood, chamomile or rosemary and sprinkle some drops on your pillow.
Drink chamomile tea in the evening or a glass of warm milk before bed.
6. Make your bedroom conducive for sleeping.
Keep all blue light emitting electronic devices out of your bedroom.
Use your bedroom only for light reading, sleep and sex.
Keep your bedroom dark, so that it’s conducive to sleeping.
Dim the lights an hour before bed.
Buy a new mattress
Have thick curtains to block out the light.
Wear a sleeping mask to sleep if you tend to be sensitive light.
Keep only soothing decor in your bedroom and remove any item that will trigger negative memories or thoughts.
Put on ear plugs if you’re sensitive to noise.
7. Reduce sources of aggravation late in the evening.
If possible, avoid reading the news at night as most news tend to be negative and trigger feelings of fear, panic and pessimism. While it’s important to stay informed about the world we live in, we can do that at the start of the day when our energy tank is full to digest any negative news.
Another source of aggravation to avoid is Facebook. Most of our newsfeed is filled with status updates of people whinging about their lousy day or boasting about how wonderful their lives, jobs or partners are. We do not need the extra negativity nor the extra occasion to feel worse about the areas of our lives that we’re struggling in.
8. Practice gratitude and compassion.
Journal down in detail three things you’re grateful for that day.
Recall the things that frustrated you and practice compassion and letting go by contemplating on this beautiful prayer of forgiveness from Paulo Coelho’s Aleph.