Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Journey to Me-dom!

Last week I challenged myself to a diet addition consisting of two medium sized hard boiled eggs and a single serving of cottage cheese, each to be eaten alone with the idea that 6 to 7 small meals per day is the healthiest way of eating and with the understanding that I was regularly skipping 5 to 6 of those meals per day regardless of size or content.  I can say that I was successful in my endeavors along with continuing to walk 6 days per week.  (See my previous weekly posts for the full back story and details.)  I did skip the foods on Sunday since I was away from home the entire day, but I’m fine with one day of indiscretion.  Eating more than once per day 6 days out of the week is a HUGE improvement over what I was doing previously and many diets allow for a cheat day anyhow.  After all, this isn’t about punishing myself or feeling like I’m not good enough to begin with or even about dieting.  It is simply about making small tweaks to my everyday routines in order to be my best and most authentic self.  I know I can complete these tasks easily and I set myself up for success from the start, so there really is no reason for the words guilt or failure or unsuccessful to even measure into the concept.  I know I can complete the goals I set for myself just like I know you can complete the goals you set for yourself.

This week I decided to focus on my sleep patterns.  I have a confession to make.  I’m a terrible sleeper.  I’m not just bad at it.  I’m TERRIBLE at it.  First of all biology is against me.  I am a night owl at heart since the dawn of time and waking up to an alarm clock ranks very high on my list of most uncomfortable things we put ourselves through in life.  Second, behind not always being able to fall asleep at a society deemed appropriate time is the problem of not being able to stay asleep once I finally do doze off.  I am a light sleeper with nocturnal pets that tend to toss and turn just as much as I do and my quality of sleep just isn’t that great.  Thirdly is the pressure I put on myself to get up at the same time everyone else does and work an expected 8 to 5 just like everyone else does.  I don’t need to do this since I’m self-employed and can make my schedule whatever I want it to be, but somewhere in my brain is this thought that I might not be taken seriously in my attempts to succeed if people got wind that I might be sleeping in a bit later than most people.  It is unnecessary pressure that I put on myself because I could easily tell anyone who might judge me to “suck it” and lay out for them the number of hours I spend each day physically working, planning future work, and preparing for the following day’s work which is more hours than anyone else I now know or have ever known in the past.  For some strange reason I have always slept best between 7am and 9:30am in the morning.  I can try to sleep for hours on end during the night and not dream once, but let me stay up and only sleep between 7am and 9am and I will dream multiple times in a row and wake up feeling more refreshed after those two hours than I would sleeping 8 or 9 hours every night for a week.  I don’t know why this is.  I have a background in psychology and studied sleep just like everyone else and I know this goes against everything we have ever been taught.  It is what it is.  I guess I always have been one to like to do my own thing.  This apparently is not any different.

I’ve decided that my next focus should be on my quality of sleep.  Part of my lack of sleep has to do with having a busy brain.  It never shuts off.  If I have an ounce of energy left in me my brain will continue to check off all the things I need to do and all the things I want to do incessantly hour after hour after hour.  This week I’ve decided to work on this by focusing on relaxing.  I’ve made some decently significant changes over the past 2 weeks and so in order to not burn myself out before I even get started or overwhelm myself for no good reason that this week would consist of working to improve something in my life in a way that could easily feel like a treat and doesn’t take up much time or energy.  Since I have enough buzzing through my head at night this process needs to be simple and something I can do without a checklist of additional physical activity since those things would defeat the purpose of relaxing and settling down for sleep.

I’ve heard that the scent of sesame oil is supposed to be relaxing and calming in light doses, so I’ve decided that just before I try to lie down to sleep I’m going to use sesame body oil in a way that will hopefully help to relax me, take my mind off of life, and trigger my brain to know that it is time to turn off and do the deep sleep thing.  I googled sesame body oils and immediately found a well-known brand that was being sold at a location near me and decided it was as good a place as any to start my new nightly ritual.  If you are following along and participating with me then feel free to use whatever is convenient for you during this process, but I will be using Neutrogena’s light sesame formula body oil.  Once I got the bottle home and pulled the protective leak barrier off and smelled the oil I immediately realized that to me this brand smells nothing like sesame and everything like calla lilies.  I do enjoy the scent of calla lilies and even have a perfume in this scent on my favorites list, but I’m more inclined to describe the smell as energizing than relaxing and prefer using it with a light hand, so we will have to see how this goes. There is additional fragrance in the ingredients list of this product so the unscented version might have been a better choice, but regardless, I have the right intentions and this is only the starting point and can be tweaked at any time.  Since this product does have what I perceive to be an unexpected floral scent I have decided to use it sparingly.  After my shower I will massage it into the soles of my feet which not only will keep the scent at a manageable distance from my nose so as to keep it mild and calm rather than invigorating but will also have the added benefit of softening my skin, and if I think I can handle it I may rub the tiniest remaining amount into my temples with the tips of my fingers the way a massage therapist might do to relax and calm me.  If I find the scent to be too close to my senses then I will just skip the last step, but I will undoubtedly will need to either thoroughly wash any remaining oil from my hands or use a soft cloth to apply it to begin with or else I will catch myself doing what I have been doing since I opened the bottle which is smelling my hand again and again unconsciously since it really is a nice fragrance.  I can’t be doing that if I’m supposed to be sleeping obviously.  Hopefully this becomes a routine that helps train my brain into being able to just nod off and sleep well when I’m ready, but if not it is still a nice routine that I deserve at the end of the day.  Finding ways to treat yourself here and there and relax are important even when they only take a minute or less and if this little routine turns out to only be a treat then so be it.  I will undoubtedly come up with other ways to try and improve my sleep habits time and time again and there is never any harm in trying.  So this is what I will doing over the next week along with continuing to keep up with my previous weeks’ additions.  I welcome everyone to not only come along on my journey but to try it with me if you can relate and it makes sense for your life.  As always, feel free to tweak my ideas to better meet your needs or just use them as inspiration to come up with your own challenges in life.  Remember it isn’t about feeling like you aren’t good enough as you are because YOU ARE.  It is about doing things that make you happy and pushing yourself to lead your best and most enjoyable life possible.  Keep me posted on your progress below or by direct message.  We can do this together.

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