Tag Archives: mindfulness

Snarling #12wbt: sleep practices OR all about those zeds


I need to start doing regular early shifts at work, and by early I mean 7am starts. Ouch. That means I’m out of bed at 5.30, to leave by 6.15 so I make it there on time.

To make this possible I need sleep and lots of it. I’ve always really struggled with sleep, and even though one of my medications has a side effect of drowsiness (which can at times be pretty extreme. Thanks seroquel!) I still find I stay up and up with a wired brain. This is not an insomnia thing; I often just make unhelpful choices around bedtimes. And I have pretty shocking sleep hygiene.

What’s sleep hygiene? It refers to the practices you use to help yourself sleep, to both get to sleep, sleep well and deeply and sleep for long enough. Historically I’ve always been pretty self destructive when it comes any kind of night time routine. But I pay for it.

Without good sleep I’m less likely to exercise because I’m pooped; I am more likely to be emotional and not cope with my day, meaning I’m more likely to emotionally eat. It impacts my relationship. It impacts how I feel about myself, my body, and it definitely negatively impacts my performance at work. And since I work with kids, that’s kind of a big deal.

Last night was great though. I did the following and it made for a great night of zeds, and I had SO MUCH ENERGY at work today. I also managed a run which was awesome. And even ate like a fucking trooper all day, making delicious and nutritious food choices because I wasn’t leaning on food to make me feel better. Here’s what I did:

– I warned my husband ahead of time that I’d need a quiet dark house by 8.30 and he was awesome and helped out.

-I didn’t eat too close to bed time. Digesting keeps me awake.

-I’d had a good run and a decent dinner and a warm shower, and some laughs/quality time with husband so I was relaxed.

-I left half an hour to be in bed before I needed to be actually asleep.

-I turned off all the lights and lit a candle. I found the flickering made my eyes tired and the heavy vanilla scent helped me feel sleepy.

-I focused on my breath, using stuff I’ve been learning in my yoga practice, and let my breathing slow and deepen.

-I worked on observing thoughts that came up about work and the gym and my relationship and let them kind of float past. That was hard as I really struggle with that kind of meditative strategy. I’m a super judgemental thinker so it was difficult. I tried to let my anxiety about it go as well!

There’s nothing too amazing about any of those things. I know for people with hardcore sleep problems, none of that is helpful, but for a person like me who is just all over the place with bedtimes and good sleep strategies, it is really helpful.

It’s so worth it, since sleep is like hydration: you really notice if it’s missing. It effects and underpins everything you do. I really fear (in terms of sleep) the day we have a baby because I’m going to be one cranky, stressed, underslept individual!

Until then though, I’m doing my best to catch as many zeds in the land of nod as I can 🙂



Snarling #12wbt: on illness, balance and movement

I can feel myself getting sick again. Again! I work in a preschool, so I get sick fairly frequently because as much as I love them, children are the bringers of all the germs to the yard. No amount of hand washing and gloves can shield me against that many viruses (though it does cut the incidence of illness radically).

Something I’m sure loads of movement oriented folk can relate to is the bummer of getting sick when you’re really excited by or committed to a plan or habit of movement. I’m REALLY looking forward to my movement session tonight – I was feeling pretty pumped about the interval running and overall glow I get after a bit of huffy puffy.

So when I get sick, I’m always bitterly disappointed. But in the past, this has meant that my three days off has turned into three months off, because like most folk with disordered eating/exercise, I live in extremes. I get disheartened and I throw the baby out with the bathwater, throwing my hands up in frustration and giving up or just losing my routine. Then the accompanying guilt means I don’t get my walking shoes out for a long time.

In Mish Bridges recent mindset video about emotional eating, she talks about the importance of starting to change “all or nothing” thinking, and I really dug this. I have been with eating as I have been with exercise. Compulsive eating means all attempts at moderate, mindful, responsive experiences of food are drowned out by the harsh buzz of the disordered eating brain bees. “Well, you’re fucked now,” they buzz. And that’s it. I give up.
So learning to just calm the farm when these thoughts occur, and flow back to my centre, my solid chilled out moderate inner Sara Bareilles voice who is like “no biggie, just let it go. It happens, and tomorrow is a new day” puts a pause on the brain bees. And here Mish Bridges speaks the same words, for which I’m grateful: she encourages you to just observe thoughts and feelings without judging. To pause before acting, to move away from catastrophising. And wherever possible, temporarily divert a need to act on anxious or overwhelming thoughts, but acknowledge them – to not suppress them. That’s pretty damn emotionally useful. Good work MB!

One thing that’s not acknowledged by Mish though is that restriction and exercise bulimia are ways people suppress and control intense feelings as well. And I am glad that when she talks about using a walk to deal with feels, she also uses a non exercise based example of putting a pause – she cites driving home the long way. Because we need to be careful when encouraging people to handle feels with movement as a part of the toolkit that this tool is actually therapeutic and not promoting an exercise burn/feelings of bodily control as a way to suppress emotional feelings of being out of control.

Living in the middle is HARD but worth it.

Snarling #12wbt: Fat yoga & the importance of body listening

yoga mat

One of the things I love the most about being connected with movement, is really “listening” to my body.

I know this sounds like hippy dippy bollocks, but I woke up this morning early and didn’t fall naturally back to sleep, so I got up and did a morning yoga routine with Adriene over at Yoga With Adriene. She came highly recommended to me (along with Curvy Yoga and Yoga Glo by many friends – everyone has a great yoga favourite! I like her because she’s laugh out loud funny sometimes and makes me feel ok to experiment and trust my own instincts – which as a beginner, is important, because I have a LOT of anxiety about getting yoga movements “right”.

Fat yoga is hard, though. My body just isn’t a flat thing that can glue itself like a board to the mat. Laying prone is hard because I have an ass, and that ass gets in the way. I’ve finally kind of found a way to lay flat, which involves drawing my shoulders way back and in, and pulling my butt up to my knees. It took me a while though. Many yoga movements are not designed for fat bodies, but they should be.

I’m going to have a deeper look at Curvy Yoga and see if it’s for me. I really enjoy it when someone comes up with an idea and is like “hey! I’m going to make this accessible!” Accessibility is golden, man.

One of the things that I think could be encouraged and talked about more is “listening” to bodies, rather than wholesale listening to external messages. Bodies are not always, but often, good at telling us what we need. Mine said “wake up! do yoga!” and often it says “eat! I’m hungry!”. And learning to listen when full, or tired, or too sore to exercise, or about to pull a ligament, is really important too.

It may sound like crunchy granola nonsense, but I’m trying to get more adept at this.

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