These last few weeks I have been working on forming a habit. It is getting into bed at a decent hour. I love getting up early in the mornings doing my yoga. Therefore, if I want my eight hours of sleep, I need to get in bed early as well.
Sounds a bit boring huh? There is some part of me that is rebelling up against this wanting to stay up at night watching Netflix instead… as if I still were a teenager.
I know that getting that habit in place would infuse a whole lot of joy into my life. And an increased quality of life.
Sleep is one of those habits that affect other habits. Just as eating healthy and exercising, a good sleeping habit spills over and improves other aspects of life. When we have slept enough we take better decisions, perform better and feel more relaxed and JOYFUL 😃 I can never say that word to many times.
Do you get enough sleep? Most of us need at least seven hours of sleep every night to be functioning. Heck, scientists compare the performance of a sleep-deprived person to the performance of a drunk one.
Eight hours is the recommendation. Many don’t feel well-rested until they have gotten nine hours. Especially in this time of year in the part of the world where I live since we only have daylight a few hours a day. If we folks wouldn’t have electricity and artificial light, we would probably sleep much more than we do now during the wintertime.
I find that when successful people get interviewed, they often get questions about their morning routine and how early they get out of bed. Many of them do get up really early. At least they say they do. But rarely do they get asked about when they go to bed at night. And how that routine looks like.
This getting out of bed early has been seen, also by me, as a productivity hack.
What I have learned about sleep from my life experience so far, is that I can motivate myself to get out of bed, early as hell actually. BUT. That does not make the days great just because of it. I NEED SLEEP.
I have thought, in the process of pulling myself out of bed early, that that would make me more sleepy the coming evening. That this short night would result in me getting into bed earlier for the coming night. That has not been the case.
Just the other day I read something that explained why that is. Sleep deprivation results in elevated stress-hormones, which not only makes us more stressed and overwhelmed, and less capable to actually do what we’ve set our selves out to do. It also makes it harder for us to fall asleep again next time. It gets like a downward going spiral with less and less sleep. I see now, that this is what I have experienced, several times.
If you’re in a similar situation I want to share how I now work with this habit of getting into bed at night. We’re all different but who knows, maybe you find something useful in this.
How I’m forming a habit of getting into bed at a decent hour 😴
I plan my evenings ahead and try to see to it that I brush my teeth at a specific time, forty-five minutes before bedtime. I’ve noticed that brushing my teeth is the first thing that I do in my bedtime routine and that everything after that is pretty much on autopilot all the way until I lay in bed.
I keep track of the times that I have managed to brush my teeth at that time as well as the times I’ve managed to hit the sack in time. I do that in a habit tracker. Habits that we keep track of gets strengthened by that.
From now on I will set the alarm on my phone on the toothbrushing time. That will not only help me to remember to brush my teeth in time but also remind me to put my phone in the charger in the kitchen before I go into the bathroom. That way this is the last time I interact with a screen.
I have a regular oldfashioned alarm clock in my bedroom. If you don’t have one, my advice is, get one. Looking at a screen just before bedtime prevents us from falling asleep as easily.
If I can’t fall asleep, my mental trainer gives the advice to have a notebook close by to be able to write down any thoughts that go around in my head. I also give myself permission to then fetch my phone to be able to listen to some relaxation soundtrack or guided meditation to help me get sleepy.
I don’t get obsessed with falling asleep though. If I’m too alert, I get up again after having laid in bed for a while with the light off. I have faith that this will eventually sort itself out and I’ll get tired at this time. If I fall asleep late, I try to adjust the time I get up the following morning or see to it that I get a nap sometime during the day.
I have a reward system in place. Since I keep track of the times I manage to brush my teeth at a specific time as well as getting into bed at a specific time, I give myself points for that. When I have reached a specific number of points, I get to give myself something that I have decided in advance related to sleep. Like a set of bedsheets, new pajamas, blinders for the windows or a pillow. Something that in itself will enhance the wish to perform this bedtime ritual.
What has worked for me, is to start small, not setting my bedtime that much earlier than when I am used to going to bed. And then gradually setting it earlier and earlier (like fifteen minutes earlier/day) until I’ve reached my optimal “go to sleep”-time.
I’ve learned all this about forming a habit from my mental trainer and I will tell you more about habits further on. But for now… I think it’s time for a nap. I get all sleepy talking about sleep 😀
I don’t know how you feel, but to me, it felt like this new year, and decade, just came running over me like a train with no stopping. I felt overwhelmed by all the goal-setting prompts that flooded my social media streams and found it hard to find the focus to choose my goals.
I think I felt like a regular type of goal setting indeed wasn’t what I needed right now. Like if I were to set some goals, they would just be caught from thin air. Like they would have no solid ground to stand on.
Then, the other day, I stumbled on this exercise in getting your priorities straight. The famous investor Warren Buffet is said to have invented it, and I heard about it from my mental trainer.
It brought me clarity and put me on the right track. I hope it will do the same for you.
The exercise took me about half an hour and consists of three steps.
To reap most of the benefits and gain the most clarity I urge you to do them one step at the time. No reading ahead until you have finished the step you are at.
If you’re up for it, get a pen and paper out and start!
The Warren Buffett Priority Exercise
Make a list of twenty-five things that you want to accomplish within the next two years. It can be within your work, business, or personal life. Or a combination of them altogether.
After you’ve done this, you determine which one is the number one top priority out of all of these. Then you go on choosing the number two in priority, and then number three, and down to number five in priority. You highlight, underline, or circle these five top priorities.
The twenty things left on your list now automatically go on to a directory called ”AVOID AT ALL COST.” You can not get on these until you have accomplished your top five priorities.
I believe the reason for this being a successful method for getting things done is that we, as humans, often get scattered. We gladly lose focus, myself included 😃, with something that is not our top priorities when we feel like things get tough, we hit a roadblock or get bored with what we’re doing.
When we then have started on other projects, it’s hard to get back on track with the things that matter. We end up spreading ourselves to thin and not getting anywhere with it.
To instead formulate what our top priorities are, and put our blinders on for the things we don’t deem as important. Well, it puts our eyes on the target and sets us up for success.
I felt somewhat of a relief actually, after having completed this exercise, realizing that I can’t go after it all at the same time. And some kind of thrill also. It would be so cool to be able to pull my top priorities off, nothing could beat that feeling.
I hope you find this exercise as clarifying as I did.
Boost your Self Love and Compassion for the New Year of 2020
The other week I sat down with a friend, one of those genious, sparkling ones. – I want to make an Advent Calendar for myself that’s all about small acts to boost ones Self Love and Compassion, she said.
A rush of inspiration sprang through me. I asked if we could do one together and if I could share it here with you guys.
She got all fired up also. And with eye reaching smiles and colored pencils we sat down in her little red cabin and started creating this at once.
Feel free to adjust the actions on this Calendar so that it gets that extra loving and good feeling vibe for you specifically. This is not intended to create extra pressure or musts in your life. See it as an inspiration to give this pre-Christmas time an extra glow. Small acts of prioritizing yourself really makes a big difference.
We also want to encourage to keep your interaction with electronic devices (read: phone) as low as possible throughout the time you spend on your daily missions. If possible, lay it aside in a drawer or something. And put it on silent mode. Mindfulness you know ;).
I’ll put it together in a printable pdf shortly but for now… Here it is! =D
Self Love and Compassion Calendar
Give yourself a hug Or hug a tree. I prefer the latter. Trees are loving beings 😃
Write a love letter to yourself 💕 Get a piece of paper out, and a pen, and just pour the awesomeness of yourself into this letter. Put it away somewhere you can find it on Christmas Eve
Put on your favorite song and dance throughout it Get some good vibration into your body
Rest from social mediatoday
Cook your favorite main course for dinner tonight
Light a candle and make a cup of hot chocolate for yourself Sit down. Sip it. Enjoy it. Do this solely. No reading, no podcast, no phone, no telly Here’s how I do my everyday hot chocolate https://youtu.be/ahF3-xYyET8
Lie down on the couch and rest for twenty minutes
Buy or make a Christmas gift for your self
Light a candle and think of three things that you are grateful for Add some extra juiciness to this and think of the reasons why you are grateful for them
Do something you think is embarrassing In front of someone else or alone… But then again.. what’s the point if no one sees you? 😉
Practice nurturing self talk Set the timer for three minutes and give voice to nurturing self talk such as; I cherish myself, I love how I am evolving all the time, I appreciate myself, I am here for myself, I am a good person, I want the best for myself, I am creative, I am strong, I am smart, I believe in myself, I am worthy of all that I wish for, I am kind, I am taken care of, I am welcome here on this earth
Book a friend date with a buddy
Forgive yourself for something
Do something outside
Write down five things that you like about yourself Time to get pen and paper out again and love bomb yourself
Do something you have been procrastinating about
Take three deep breathswith your hands placed on your heart center Place both your hands on the middle of your chest where your imaginary heart is placed. Close your eyes, feel into it… Breathe.
Read a chapter from your favorite book
Say out loud that you are good Do this with or without looking into your eyes in a mirror
Lie down on your sofa and listen to a new song It could be a new song of your favorite artist from the old days
Do three jump steps In Sweden we call them “Hoppsa-steg”. Here a Swedish guy shows you how to do them. Imagine you are a bouncing ball he says 😄 https://youtu.be/RT7t5meOyn4
Meditate If you have a meditation practice you are fond of, do this today. Otherwise, sit down, make sure both your feet have contact with the floor. Sit with in an upright position with your hands on your knees. Close your eyes and listen to this ten minute guided meditation by Tara Brach: https://www.tarabrach.com/ten-minute-basic-guided-meditation-practice/
Time for some pre-christmas pampering! It’s time for a bathtub bath, a caring foot bath or an extra intentional shower. Use whatever you have available to make this as a pleasant moment as possible. Scented candles burning in the background, some soft music… Perhaps you have a body scrub or mudpack waiting in your toilet cabinet to be used? Or… you can do as me and mix white sugar with cold pressed sesame oil and use as a scrub. The sugar melts lusciously when the warm water touches it, caressing the oil into your skin.
Read your love letter 💖
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Me and my friend Monica wishes you a Self Loving and Compassionate Christmas. May your nurtured and strengthened heart sprinkle stardust and shed light over your entire coming year 2020.
To me, joy is life force. It’s like the power that some days fuels me up to go that extra mile. Or, on other days, just makes my life worth living. To me, joy is serious business :D. It’s something I know I have to actively choose, and time and time again remind myself to prioritize.
Joy–a feeling of growth
I’d define joy like the bubbly feeling in your tummy when you are jumping on a trampoline, the split second you’re in the air by the breaking point from going upwards to going downwards… or like the sensation in your body sliding down a hill on skis when it’s just the right leach to challenge you a little bit…
OR like when you manage to do something hard, something you never thought you could pull off. That sensation of being surprised, in a good way.
In that way joy truly is a feeling of growth. It’s the feeling that appears when you have moved just outside your comfort zone and realize that you are going to be okay anyway :D. You have expanded to become a bigger version of yourself.
But there are other pathways to joy than just doing things that scares you. Here are some of my joy infusing favorites.
5 tips to get more JOY into your life
Make a joke, or pass a good one on to another person To compose a joke in a text to a friend is a true joy booster. Or why not call them and tell it to them like in the good old days? Sharing something joyful amplifies the feeling of joy within you. Just make sure that the joke is on you, if it is on anybody ;).
Keep count of comical situations Choosing to look for the comic in the situations you encounter is another way to enhance that joyful feel. Our brains work that way, that if we look for something, let’s say red cars, and we count them, we see red cars more often. That works for reasons for a good laugh too!
Be grateful Yeah I know, you might feel sick and tired of hearing about this gratefulness-thing being so great. Or maybe you haven’t heard about it. Either way, it can feel a bit weird and superficial to construct gratefulness instead of just letting it come to you naturally…
The thing is, that when we are stressed, it doesn’t come naturally. And by focusing on gratitude we hijack our brains to get out of that narrow minded way of operating. We get access to a larger piece of our brain… a lot more peaceful and happy state to function from <3
This is what you do: appreciate the joy you have felt in your past. It could be fun memories from today, a couple of years ago, or as a kid. Close your eyes and feel it just as if you were there right now, in that moment. This will bring more joy into your life for sure, both while you close your eyes and feel it. And from now on, in ways you can’t predict.
Smile Smile even though you have nothing special to smile about. It doesn’t have to be this gaze attracting, tooth showing grimace on your face. Just lift the corners of your mouth slightly upwards in a loose, relaxed way. It can take some practice making it feel natural, but it will eventually.
It’s actually through the meditation teacher Tara Brach and her guided meditations that I have learned that when we smile it automatically makes our bodies more at ease. The brain signals, through the central nervous system to the rest of our body, that everything is alright. When we are in a state of ease, we are more inclined to feel joy.
Choose pleasure Do I even need to say it? I mean, imagine you do that thing you love… go dancing or riding a bike, or playing tabletop games with some friends if you like that sort of stuff… Automatically your joy-levels will increase. Of course they will! 😀 Maybe it will take a couple of times for you to feel like you used to when you did those things a lot. Especially physically demanding things that you haven’t done for a while… well, they can make you feel a bit out of shape initially :/. But I bet a spark of joy is in there somewhere when you do it. Do it more often, and you will see yourself as a joyful person!
Infusing more joy into your life so that you are more satisfied with yourself will make you such a treat to be around. The reason is that when you’re contempt with your way of living, you won’t feel the need to question others. You’re good. And that is just such a nice energy to hang out with.
So for all our sakes, head out and choose joy, today, tomorrow, and forever more.