I’m going to briefly describe a scenario to see if it sounds at all familiar to you. Here goes. Your day was particularly stressful and things didn’t go the way you wanted. A fairly major and troublesome issue is unresolved and needs fixing immediately. You go to bed with the weight of your day still front and center. While you toss and turn your mind churns with thoughts from the day. Twenty minutes go by. You stare at the ceiling. Fifty minutes have passed and you might have faded in and out but you don’t know for sure. At some point during the night you awaken, realizing your dreams are becoming beyond weird. Then that troublesome issue starts its nocturnal carousing. I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of heads are nodding right now.
We all have obviously experienced what I described above. There are a number of emotions driving this response including anxiety, fear, frustration, anger and guilt. Isn’t it interesting that it’s usually the negative stuff that keeps us awake at night? Think about it. We generally don’t stay awake because we are feeling euphoria, happiness, joy, peace or gratitude. When we’re “Sleepless in Seattle” it’s a sure bet that we won’t get a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed the next morning. So what to do?
I have self-developed a technique that works very well for me and perhaps it will be helpful for you as well. I call it the three Rs – Relax, Release and Replace. Relax may sound trite, but it’s absolutely necessary. OK, you say, how am I supposed to relax when I’m all balled up inside? Start with a bedtime routine. Try and go to bed at the same time every night. Watch what you eat and drink within two or three hours of going to bed. Practice meditating to clear your mind. When you go to bed, be very aware of your breathing. See that it becomes slow, measured and deep.
Now that you are in somewhat of a relaxed state it’s time to Release. Recently I woke up in the middle of the night as I usually do to take a pill and make the journey to the bathroom. Normally I go right back to sleep, but this particular night my mind went into overdrive. The issue stemmed from a nasty surprise in one of my businesses that could have proven to be very expensive. In the past I might have allowed my thoughts to spin out of control and ultimately begin envisioning the worst possible scenarios. But this time I said to myself, “Lee, you are not going to solve this tonight. It will still be there in the morning and you will need a fresh perspective which you won’t have if you stay awake for the next four hours.” Then I smiled and went back to sleep because I knew this to be the truth.
Finally it’s time for the last step . . . Replace. Once you’ve released the thoughts that are keeping you awake, replace them with positive thoughts. One of my favorite places in the whole world is on the side of a fairly steep hill on a Caribbean island overlooking the ocean with a clear blue sky and the sun’s light flooding every inch of the experience. It’s not hard for me to bring this vision into my consciousness which makes me feel very warm and safe. Falling asleep at that point is a breeze.
Lying awake and churning a problem – large or small – generally accomplishes nothing. Creative solutions are inspired by healthy sleep and a clear head. Consistently using the Three Rs technique puts us on a successful path toward accomplishing this.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.