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|When you are mentally
tensed, it is advisable to breathe slowly and rhythmically for a few minutes.
This will calm the mind. Deep breathing helps the mind to relax. You may
experience a kind of floating sensation.
Mental relaxation techniques will help you get rid of unwanted thoughts that rush through your head and keep you from relaxing and falling asleep.
In thought-stopping, you willfully force your mind to think the very thoughts that keep you awake. For example, think about your boss chewing you out tomorrow. Mull it over, every detail of it. Then, suddenly, order yourself to "Stop!" If the thought creeps back, yell to you again, "Stop!" Keep interrupting your unpleasant thought with unpleasant commands to yourself.
There are two explanations why thought-stopping works:
The word "Stop!" forces an immediate shifting of our attention, which will lead us away from preoccupying thoughts. Thought-stopping proves to us that we do have power over ourselves-more than we think. That awareness can lead us to thinking more self-assuring, self-accepting thoughts-thoughts that are more conducive to sleep.
Like the anxious batter who strikes out because the tying and winning runs are on base and he or she must get a hit, the person who feels he or she must sleep can get performance anxiety.
A way to combat the anxiety is to tell yourself not that you must fall asleep, but that you must stay awake, and for as long as possible. Now you are in a win-win situation, whatever happens? In other words, by forcing yourself to stay awake as long as possible, you may naturally become sleepy without putting yourself under pressure.
Sometimes we need to blow off steam, literally. We do this by sighing: Inhale deeply through your nose. Then pucker your lips, and exhale slowly through them. Make breathing out last as long as it feels comfortable. As you hear the air leaving your body, imagine the sighing sound is tension draining from your body.
Close your eyes and relax. Count backward, slowly from 100 to zero. As you do, visualize the numerals in some beautiful way. Maybe you see them being written slowly and carefully by a calligrapher. Or maybe you see them on a staircase, each step holding a number lower than the step above. Or try seeing the numbers being sky written across a clear blue sky. Make each number as large and sweeping as possible. Continue until sleep overtakes you.
Think of an object that you find simple and pleasing. Study every line of it in your mind, appreciating its grace and texture.
Or picture a color shifting into beautiful patterns and hues, blending and changing.
Picture a quiet setting-maybe a winter scene with snowflakes softly falling or a spring day in the country, with cows and horses grazing in a meadow.
Be sure to feel the picture by engaging all of your five senses. When you imagine the beach, feel the sun on your face, your toes squishing in the sand, the breeze caressing your skin. Smell the clean ocean air.
Another way to relax is to imagine you're being suspended by something other than your mattress.
Picture yourself floating slowly downward like a leaf in the air. Or you're descending a very gradual staircase. Or you're gliding down a long escalator. The lower you float, the calmer you are. Or be like a raft on the sea, bobbing gently up and down.
See what's next
You've spent quite a long time developing habits that are interfering with your sleep; now give yourself time to develop these new, more healthful habits. Remember, you have to practice the exercises consistently to see any benefit from them. Also, talk with your health-care provider.
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