Do you ever get into bed after a long day, 20-30 minutes pass by, and you are still wide awake? Maybe you’re replaying conversations from the day, thinking about your to do list for tomorrow, perhaps even worrying about the rest of your week and what needs to get done. You get up and turn on the TV. Or start scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed on your phone, hoping your eyes will get tired. Still feeling like you can't slow your thoughts down, no matter what you do? Here are some strategies to help you wind down at night.
Visualization: Creating a visual for your thoughts can be very useful when you’re anxious and you feel like your thoughts are scattered. Imagine that you are placing all of your thoughts into a box. Take all of the thoughts and the worries of the day and push them down into the box. Then close it and tape it shut. Imagine placing the box on the shelf. Your thoughts are now safe and contained and can be re-opened tomorrow.
Body scan: Start with your toes and tighten and release them. Slowly move up your body, section by section (ankles, legs, torso etc.). Make your way to the top of your head, tightening and releasing your muscles. This is a very helpful exercise to physically relax your body and help you settle into sleep for the night.
Deep breathing: Practicing your breathing can help you slow down your thoughts. It acts as a short-term distraction from whatever is on your mind. Count four deep breaths in through your nose and four deep breaths out. If you are counting and focusing on your breathing, in those moments, you are not able to think about anything other than your breath. This temporary reprieve can help you rest your brain.
Guided Meditation: Another great way to distract your thoughts and to decompress is to listen to a guided meditation. You can focus on what is being said and following the directions instead of thinking about what worries you. You can find guided meditations on YouTube, or apps like Calm or Head Space.
It can be frustrating when your anxiety is getting in the way of you falling asleep. Put your worries aside and try these tips to decompress at night. Whether you struggle with anxious thoughts or not, they’re helpful for falling asleep on difficult nights. These exercises can relax your mind and body and help you wind down for a sound and quality sleep.