You say to yourself, oh no, I did not sleep at all last night.
And you just wish you had some sleep and now you are feeling so tired and drained.
Not an ounce of energy.
Not getting sleep makes you feel close to tears and of all days you wanted the strength to deal with what you have to deal with.
Everyone, everybody, everything is really bugging you right now.
And this is stress.
Perhaps you have tried all the relaxtion techniques – chamomile tea, meditation, sleep apps, deep breathing, yoga poses, walks in nature, journaling and more.
None of it is working because you cannot control the external stress.
It keeps eating away at you.
It plays over and over in your mind and the cycle of not being able to sleep continues.
External stress is now your internal stress.
And this can be different for everyone.
Whether it is about a relationship, family dynamics, about something or someone at work or a world event.
What to do?
I know it can be a challenge.
It starts with awareness.
But let’s face it – you cannot control the action of others.
You cannot control what the govenrment does nor does not do.
You cannot control the weather or a pandemic.
What you can control is how you show up.
Now this is more of a work in progress.
It is not like changing your diet, starting to exercise or having daily relaxation practice.
It requires inner work.
You are more than your physical self.
I think of the serenity prayer “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Start by exploring some postive ways to change what you can.
You cannot change the pandemic but you can do things to keep yourself and loved ones safe. You cannot change someone’s illness but you can be there for them or honour their memories. You cannot change a mean-spirited boss but you can be grateful that either you have a job or that you are not mean-spirited yourself or you know that you are a great employee doing the best you can.
I remember at work many years ago, a customer came into the office mad and he was yelling. I know he was not mad at me, He was mad about a situation. It was not personal. Unfortunatey, he caught me at a bad time – I had my feet up on my desk. Oops! I quickly scrambled to look professional. Somehow, we both found amusement in the situation and the next thing you know we were both laughing.
Not everyone wants to be in a bad mood. Finding humour helps.
Be curious about the situation. Someone – a friend, a spouse or a boss is giving you a hard time and you don’t understand why. You think – what’s their problem? Go a step further. Take a moment and wonder why rather than react. Perhaps they are experiencing some problem of their own? Perhaps the behaviour is how they handle stress? Perhaps there is pressure from somewhere else? Maybe they have trouble sleeping too?
If someone has an attitude problem, it is not you. Something triggered that person and it is something that they are dealing with. It is not personal. And yet because it is directed at you, you then take it on.
Being curious changes your state from fear and stress to one of openness and of possibilities. It can even diffuse your response. Be curious. It can change your view of the situation.
It is not about you. It is about them.
I hope this can help to reframe what is external stress and how to start to stop it from becoming internal stress. This is something I do to help my clients in my Let’s Get You To Sleep program. Mindset is so important for your mental health to manage the world of external stress and to stop it from becoming your stress and showing up in your physical health. Learning to let go of stress can bring on a great night’s sleep.