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How to Stay Sane, Stay Focused, and Sleep Soundly During the COVID-19 Apocalypse

As originally seen on Forbes

Having trouble sleeping? Worrying about when this COVID-19 crisis will be over? Wondering if the world will ever return to normal? You aren’t alone. Since World War 2, the world hasn’t faced a situation that has caused such dramatic and sustained global anxiety. So how do you cope? To answer these questions, I enlisted the help of my friend and Executive Wellness Coach, Lance Breger. Here are his insights:

What are some things people do to relieve stress that may have the opposite effect?

1. Worry - Worrying is the absolute least productive and helpful thing you can do when stressed,” explained Berger. Everyone is facing additional stresses right now, don’t fixate on them or you will wear yourself out.  

2. Alcohol - Alcohol is sedation not relaxation and it causes blood sugar imbalances plus sleep disturbances which exacerbate someone stressed

3. TV/Netflix/Amazon Prime - Binge watching shows on evenings and weekends leads to not only getting less sleep, but higher levels of sadness, emptiness, and lack of meaningful purpose.

4. Social Media Saturation - Passively scrolling through your social media feeds leads to higher levels of anxiety and depression through social comparison.

5. News Bingeing - Watching the news 24/7 or needing to constantly be up-to-date with every new development leads to a chronic exposure to negativity which heightens one's perception that life/ the world is a scary, dangerous place.

What about those of us that still have work to do? How do we keep our focus?

Berger shared with me a three step approach to overcoming distraction.

First, identify the most common distractions. Not surprisingly, these may include many of the distractions listed above (Social media, streaming tv shows, 24/7 news)

Second, make your distractions: invisible, unattractive, hard to do (or inaccessible, for example turn off your internet or delete Facebook), unenjoyable/unsatisfying.

Third, practice the 4R’s for mindful, focused attention. (1) You need to recognize when you are becoming distracted. (2), Remember why it’s important and valuable for you to stay focused. (3), Refocus by intentionally adjusting your position or posture. (4), Repeat recognizing, remembering and refocusing as a mindfulness practice all day every day.

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on normal sleeping habits, how can we get a good night’s sleep in these stressful times?

Here is what Lance shared with me:

If your sleep hygiene and evening routine isn't conducive for putting a child it bed, fix it. (For children they say building out a consistent routing, ie bath time, brush teeth, story time, etc is helpful. Find what works for you and stick to it.) 

1. Consistency - keep a consistent bedtime, just because you are no longer commuting does not mean its best to stay up later or sleep in longer.

2. Light - unplug and turn off screens 30-90 minutes before bedtime and keep your bedroom as dark as a cave.

3. Caffeine - caffeine has a 6-hour half-life in your body so your 1/2 of your 3PM coffee is still in your system at 9PM and 1/4 is still there at 3AM. This leads to insomnia, waking up in the middle of the night, and waking up unrested. 

4. Healthy Dinner - too many carbohydrates lead to a spiked blood sugar when you are trying to fall asleep and the blood sugar crash wakes you up in the middle of the night. Limit drinks, sweet, snacks, and a plate full of carbohydrates while opting for a meal of protein, healthy fat, and above ground vegetables. 

5. Healthy Stress Relievers - Use stress relieving activities during your evening routine (breathing, meditation, stretching, sleep tea, essential oils, reading, music, massage, journaling, practicing gratitude) because stress hormones suppress melatonin making it difficult to fall asleep.

The biggest goal for everyone right now should be survival. Don’t make a stressful situation even worse, by beating yourself up over your personal shortcomings. Hopefully a few of these ideas will help you get more done, sleep better and keep self-destructive behaviors to a minimum.

As originally seen on Forbes

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