At the beginning of the year I was talking to a friend about the pace of life in Sydney. Both of us are originally from the country and his take really resonated with me: Sydney-siders generally don’t take the time at the end of the day to ‘digest’ and process.
As much as I hate to admit it. I think he’s right.
Instead we flick on the television, open our laptops, endlessly scroll through Instagram, keep working, pour a few too many glasses of wine or generally find other ways to ‘numb’ out.
By the time we get to bed, we’re wired, stressed out, over-stimulated and potentially depressed by the bangin’ beach body babes we’ve compared ourselves to on social media. This sets up a knock-on effect for shallow breathing, poor sleep, demotivated to train the next day and feeling disconnected from ourselves and others, including partners.
Sounds depressing, yeah? Ha! Don’t worry – I have a solution, so read on.
Perhaps the reason my friend’s theory resonated with me so much is because I’m the master of numbing. Drugs of choice: work and Instagram.
I love them both and they’re connected as what I do for a living, so a healthy relationship with them gives me a sustainable high.
Overdose, however, and things get weird.
Ever since that conversation I had so many months ago, I’ve practiced three simple night time rituals that I wanted to share with you. They have each finally stuck and made a huge difference to my ability to concentrate, train and practice yoga as well as connect in loving relationships.
Yes, you’ve all heard it before, but I’m going to say it again. Switch off all of your devices at least an hour before bed – and I don’t just mean hide your phone or put it on silent. I mean switch it onto flight mode or off altogether so that a) there’s no temptation to peek and b) you’re avoiding any nasty radiation that can interfere with your brain before bed.
Give yourself space, preferably alone, to sit or lie down in silence and reflect on your day. Keep a note pad handy for any ideas that come up in this state (often the juiciest ideas appear from stillness) as well as writing down the things you did that you feel proud of. It could be that you smiled at a stranger, brought a round of coffees, cleared some time to chat with your Mum or picked a flower for your boss who’s feeling super stressed.
Why is it that you’re ‘numbing’ in the first place? Is it to avoid a truth that you’ve been pushing down and not wanting to admit? It could be that you’re avoiding a conversation that you have to have or a decision you have to make. And by the way, when we ‘get still’ (as in point 2) we give ourselves the opportunity to process things. It might feel uncomfortable, but the alternative is way worse. Brene Brown (a wonderful American author, professor and public speaker, famous for her TED Talks) says, “we cannot selectively numb emotions; when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” So if you want to feel intense joy, love and fulfilment, lean into the darker ones also.