I saw taillights last night, in a dream about my old life. Everybody leaves and I would expect as much from you. Gaslight Anthem
According to abandonment.net, abandonment is about loss of love itself, that crucial loss of connectedness. It often involves breakup, betrayal, aloneness.
Outofthefog.net describes it as: an irrational belief that one is imminent danger of being personally rejected, discarded or replaced.
People struggling with abandonment issues include those going through the ending of a relationship as well as searching adoptees, recently widowed, and those suffering the wounds from earlier disconnections.
Many people, men and women, have abandonment issues that may manifest during childhood but surface later in life when the person is on his or her own in the world. Their core belief is that no one likes them and those that love them will leave.
Abandonment issues may particularly flare up if you’re going through a break up, separation or divorce and are entirely alone, either physically or emotionally. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at abandonment and really helps you to understand what it is and how to cope.
What is abandonment like for the person suffering?
Abandonment is a cumulative wound containing all of the losses and disconnections stemming all the way back to childhood. Abandonment.net says that for sufferers abandonment is:
- A feeling
- A feeling of isolation within a relationship
- An intense feeling of devastation when a relationship ends
- An aloneness-not-by-choice
- An experience from childhood
- A baby left on the doorstep
- A woman left by her husband of twenty years for another woman
- A man being left by his finance for someone ‘more successful’
- A child left by his mother
- A friend feeling deserted by a friend
- A father leaving his marriage, moving out of the house, away from his children
- A child whose pet dies
- A little girl grieving over the death of her mother
- A little boy wanting his mommy to come pick him up from nursery school
- A child about to be ‘replaced’ by the birth of another sibling
- A child needing his parents but they are emotionally unavailable
- A boy realizing he is gay and anticipating the reaction of his parents and friends
- A teenage boy with his heart twanging, but afraid to approach his love
- A teenage girl feeling her heart is actually broken
- A woman who has raised a family now grown, feeling empty, as if she has been deserted, as if the purpose of her life has abandoned her
- A child stricken with a serious illness or injury watching his friends play while he must remain confined to braces, wheel chair, or bed
- A woman who has lost her job and with it her professional identity, financial security, and status. Now she is left feeling worthless, not knowing how to occupy her time – – feeling abandoned by her life’s mission
- A man who has been ‘put out to pasture’ by his company, as if obsolete
- People grieving the death of a loved one report feelings of abandonment
- The dying fear being abandoned by their loved ones as much or more as they fear pain and death
- Suicide is an excruciating form of abandonment
- Abandonment is all of this and more. Its wound is at the heart of the variety of human experiences, and is found in the uniqueness of each person’s life.
What does it look like?
Abandonment is ugly and generally pushes people away. For example:
- A spouse assumes their partner is having an affair without any objective evidence.
- A mother does not allow her teenage child to form romantic or peer relationships.
- A boyfriend calls or texts repeatedly – 15 or more times in a single day.
- A girlfriend shows up at an office function to which she has not been invited.
- A divorcee stalks his ex-wife after the dissolution of the relationship.
Some examples of statements from people who have a fear of abandonment include:
- “You’ve never loved me.”
- “I know you are having an affair”
- “You prefer them to me.”
- “You never want to spend time with me.”
- “I know you want to leave me”
Symptoms of abandonment include:
– Clinging. One of the prominent symptom observed in people suffering fear of abandonment is reaching out or clinging to the person whom the sufferer is in relationship with. Since these people live with a fear of being left alone they tend to hold on to the person, which at times drive them away from the one they love.
– Reaching out. The person will generally reach for someone they have a relationship with, which may form unhealthy relationships. It may also lead the person to realise their worst fear by driving the person they’re clinging to away.
– Panic/dreading. Generally it’s over small indiscretions, but their reactions are severe. They call often if the person they’re clinging to is late, fails to pick up the phone, doesn’t call right back or refuses to meet with them for any reason.
– Emotional blackmail. Strongly linked to panic, the person may threaten self harm to their loved ones, which is a sign of desperation.
– Complacent disposition. Seemingly ok, they may take on the most disgusting household chore or sexual activity even when they don’t want it.
– Leaving relationships. In an attempt to keep from being rejected, the person may bounce from relationship to relationship, so they are the ones doing rejecting. Even if it’s going well, they may leave thinking it’s only a matter of time.
– Continual need for reassurance. The person may look for constant reassurance of affection or love. If they don’t do this, then they may be doing it more subtly but in a more destructive way to the relationship, for example they will continually test the person they are with to ensure they still love them.
– Weakened sense of self worth. They feel happier and more confident when someone else is there to prop them up and protect them. Which is why they may try to surround themselves with someone – ANYONE – when they are feeling desperate.
How abandonment will destroy your relationship?
These tips are from Johanna Lyman.
1. You keep looking for flaws in someone who is potentially a good partner for you. You concentrate on their faults.
2. People think you’re shy or reserved. You don’t trust people which makes you hard to get to know. You’re afraid to let people in because you don’t want to get hurt, so you end up lonely instead.
3. You fall in love hard and fast, and over and over again. You don’t know who to be as an individual so you’re always in a relationship to hide from getting to know yourself. You can’t do enough for your partner and are a giver. You can’t understand why your partner doesn’t appreciate you.
4. You love the chase. You’re really attracted to someone when you’re trying to catch them, but once you’re in the relationship you get bored. You withdraw emotionally, and your partner starts to think they’ve done something wrong.
5. You are a perfectionist. You believe if you get it right, you won’t get rejected. Whether “it” is a work project, the way your home looks, how you dress or what your body looks like, perfectionism is a thief. It steals your happiness under the guise of preventing rejection.
How the relationship cycle works when you have a fear of abandonment
About Phobias published this piece about how the relationship cycle works when you have a fear of abandonment.
People with a fear of abandonment often follow one of a few basic patterns. This is how a typical relationship may evolve:
1. Getting to Know Each Other – At this point, you feel relatively safe. You are not yet emotionally invested in the other person, so you continue to live your life while enjoying time with your chosen person.
2. The Honeymoon Phase – This is when you make the choice to commit. You are willing to overlook possible red or yellow flags, because you just get along so well. You start spending a great deal of time with the other person, you always enjoy yourself, and you start to feel secure.
3. The Real Relationship – The honeymoon phase cannot last forever. No matter how well two people get along, real life always intervenes. Although this is a very normal and positive step in a relationship, it can be terrifying for those with a fear of abandonment, who may see it as a sign that the other person is pulling away. If you have this fear, you are probably battling with yourself and trying very hard not to express your worries for fear of appearing clingy.
4. The Slight – People are human. They have foibles and moods and things on their minds. Regardless of how much they care for someone else, they cannot and should not be expected to always have that person at the forefront of their minds. Especially once the honeymoon period is over, it is inevitable that a seeming slight will occur. This often takes the form of an unanswered text message or unreturned phone call, or a request for a few days of alone time.
What Happens Next
For those with a fear of abandonment, this is a turning point. If you have this fear, you are probably completely convinced that the slight is a sign that your partner no longer loves you. What happens next is almost entirely determined by the fear of abandonment, its severity and the sufferer’s preferred coping style. Some people handle this by becoming clingy and demanding, insisting that their partner prove his love by jumping through hoops outlined by the fearful partner. Others run away, rejecting their partners before they are rejected. Still others feel that the slight is their fault, and attempt to transform themselves into the perfect partner in a quest to keep the other person from leaving.
From your partner’s point of view, your sudden personality shift seems to come from out of left field. If the partner does not suffer from a fear of abandonment, he probably does not have the slightest idea why his previously confident, laid-back partner is suddenly acting clingy and demanding, smothering him with attention, or pulling away altogether.
Similar to phobias, it is impossible to talk or reason someone out of a fear of abandonment. No matter how many times your partner tries to reassure you, it will simply not be enough. Eventually, your behaviour patterns and inconsolability could drive your partner away, ironically leading to the conclusion that you fear most.
How to deal with abandonment issues
Overcoming these symptoms can be the first step to becoming a self-satisfied, content person for anyone suffering from this condition.
A person going through abandonment issues can do the following:
- Relaxing the mind by practicing yoga can help greatly. Yoga will keeps the mind calm and free from an sort of negativity.
- Understanding the power of the mind and its capabilities improves self-awareness.
- It is a good idea to stop getting attached to people. Detachment does not mean not caring about them, but it means maintaining a distance and not relying on anyone else.
- A busy life helps in forgetting the past and takes away the attention from unnecessary things.
- Engaging in a sport or giving more time to work, going out with friends, etc., can divert the mind.
- Aiming high, setting goals, and doing things that would add to the feel-good factor, works really well.
If nothing seems to help the situation, talking things out with a friend or spouse or seeing a psychologist, would definitely help. Take it day by day.
Why it’s important to fix your abandonment complex
Abandonment can lead to other disorders including anger, depression, anxiety, co-dependence and fear of intimacy. Unfortunately there’s no way to fast track getting past these issues, especially if they’re significant – hang in there and find yourself a psychologist. Tackling this one will be well worth it in the end!
Don’t be upset if people prefer another to you, it’s difficult to convince a monkey that strawberries are sweeter than bananas. Anonymous
Are you in a relationship that is making you feel bad about yourself? Are you doubting yourself or finding you’re having paranoid thoughts about your actions and their impact? Do you find yourself acting out in ways that you never have before? Are you constantly distressed and not sure if you’re relationship is coming or going? Are you isolated from your loved ones or has your self-esteem plummeted due to continuing this relationship? I bet you can’t recognise yourself anymore too… DROP IT LIKE IT’S HOT!
We have all encountered toxic people in our life, but for those of us unlucky enough to experience a toxic relationship, you will understand how these feelings and symptoms mentioned above crept subtly into your relationship and started affecting it, and how painful it is to let the person go – particularly because you will generally love them and care for them that little bit extra because they have needed you and dragged you down at the same time.
Sometimes we need to love someone from a distance and unfortunately this means the process of detoxing yourself from them. If your partner is putting you down, crushing your spirit or you have found out that they are cheating on you, this blog is for you. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at how you can release yourself from a toxic relationship and get on with a happier life – even if it means being alone.
What is a toxic relationship?
According to Canadian Living, a toxic relationship is one that makes you feel consistently bad about yourself. You may find yourself fending off subtle jabs or downright insults, dealing with unreliability or perhaps even deceit. A toxic relationship leaves you feeling anxious, unrewarded and unaccepted.
Still unsure? Check out this blog by Love Panky about the different types of toxic people and toxic-style relationships. In some cases, some of these can overlap, some people may check every box. As Natalie Avdeeva points out, the types of people who are toxic are:
– They put you down
– They cheat on you
– They lie to you (don’t put up with lies!)
– They’re abusive
– They blame you
– They are extremely insecure
– They’re demanding
– They’re over-the-top perfectionists
– They’re narcissistic
– They’re competitive
– They’re manipulative.
Here’s a checklist of symptoms of a toxic relationship:
– It feels as though no matter what you do or how hard you try, you can’t do anything right
– Are they constantly putting you down?
– Everything is about them and never about you, when you make it about you – they quickly manipulate it back to be about them again
– You find yourself unable to enjoy the good times
– Are you so emotionally dependant on each other that you can’t do anything alone?
– You’re uncomfortable being yourself (which is why you lose track of who you are!)
– They refuse to allow you to grow or change
– Is there a constant drama and it always feels so far out of your control?
– They start controlling you until you feel completely lost and confused.
If you answered ‘yes’ to two or more of these – these are your red flags … GET OUT NOW! GO!
Can you fix a toxic relationship?
Maybe … but at the time it is toxic, definitely not. You need to muster up all your courage and find a place to escape far away from the person. The following steps will hopefully lead you to a path where you’re feeling back on track rapidly. It is better to cut this person completely free from your life, and not consider any point of return, than to consider any kind of future with them. Whatever happens, do not encourage the bad behaviour. You deserve better!
What do I do if I suspect I’m in a toxic relationship but I’m not entirely sure?
Keep a diary – then no matter what they say, you can refer back and see what the reality was for yourself. By keeping a diary you will have a heap of evidence to validate your actions and words and it will help you to rebuild yourself quicker.
Throughout a toxic relationship, you’ll notice your self-esteem will plunge while the level of self-doubt rises so high that you feel like you’re drowning in it. Every time you’re left, you will hate yourself, blame yourself and become overwhelmed by guilt. By keeping a diary of how the person is making you feel, their actions and words, you can look back and go: “Hold up – no, the reality was this! Here’s what you said and did, here’s what I said and did.”
What if I stay?
The hard truth is: generally these relationships lead to the toxic person cheating on you. Talk about adding insult to injury! So after all the pain you’ve suffered as they’ve crushed your spirit, you also have the pain that you never truly had them to begin with. This is why it’s important that you acknowledge you’re in a toxic relationship and leave EARLY – to save yourself any further pain. Look out for the alarm bells and signs of a toxic relationship they come in all forms mentioned above.
So how do you move on?
1. Be honest with yourself
Allow yourself to be entirely disgusted with this person for treating you the way they have. Cry – trust me, you will cry A LOT! Don’t blame yourself – you’ve been through enough pain now and you’re probably feeling quite exhausted. Tell yourself that you’re leaving for your own wellbeing – in order to truly love yourself, realise that self-preservation means severing these ties.
2. Prepare to become super-human
You won’t eat, you won’t sleep, you may take time off work to deal with things, you’ll cry yourself into a world of dehydration. There’s nothing you can do about any of this except ride it out until it’s over with.
3. If you have decided to end the relationship, be clear about it
Stop contacting them COMPLETELY. Cut them off. Do not enable them to contact you again. Block them out of your life completely. Do whatever you have to do. I know I shouldn’t encourage you to fight fire with fire, but sometimes, particularly when we’re hurting, if you do it respectfully it can bring us a sense of power. So, if you can’t be blunt to them about it or you’re having trouble ending it, then turn it around and push it until you have manipulated them into saying it. If they’re toxic and intentionally hurting you, trust me, it won’t take long until they make the threat – and then go with it, stick with it and don’t look back. Hit that accelerator and go go go!
4. DO NOT worry about their feelings
Toxic people don’t have feelings! Well … they do, but as far as you’re concerned from now, they don’t! Consider them narcissists, which means they don’t have feelings, but they will pretend they do, if that helps. Think about how long they’ve overlooked your feelings. So, trust me – just tell yourself they don’t! Why? Because it’s when we consider their feelings that we continue our self-doubt and we start to go back. If you find yourself with any level of concern for someone who is hurting you, stop yourself right there and tell yourself that you deserve better than your current circumstances. Trust the universe to lead you to a better reality – it may mean sitting with the pain for some time, but it will be worth it. Anything is better than going back and suffering at the hands of the toxic relationship again. In fact, I read a quote recently that said: “Sometimes giving a person a second chance is like giving them an extra bullet for their gun because they missed you the first time” … what about once you have given them a hundred chances? Trust me, if you haven’t made this mistake yourself, it makes you feel as though you handed them a machine gun and it’s not worth it!
5. Don’t try to replace the person
They say the fastest way over someone is to find someone new. This is not the case when you’re recovering from a toxic relationship. When you’re recovering from a toxic relationship, unfortunately you are exceptionally vulnerable, more than if you’re just recovering from a standard relationship break up. The chances that you will entice another toxic person into your life are extremely high. Don’t go with it. Take comfort in knowing that if this person has left you for someone else, the chances that they are truly happy or will be happy long-term are exceptionally slim. And you would have left them anyway because the relationship was toxic … so don’t worry!
6. Struggling? Read about it
Spend some time reading about other people’s experiences and advice about leaving a toxic relationship – it will strengthen you. I found the Between Dreams blog written by the gorgeous Allie, and I have to say: it’s absolutely FANTASTIC! If you’re leaving a toxic relationship, you will certainly identify with the things she says, here’s an excerpt from it:
“You want the real, uncensored truth? Because for me, letting go of people is hard. I fight for the people I care about, I want the best for them, and I want to be that person who stuck it out for the long hard battle. Because how can you just give up on the years you’ve known each other? The time invested into that very relationship? The idea of giving up just doesn’t enter my mind.
Then one day, you wake up. You see how unhappy you are. You now see the trance of negativity that’s been placed around you. You begin to wonder which way to turn…
You can write out your feelings, you can list out the pros and cons, justify whatever it is in your mind, give them one more chance, but all it takes it one thought to change everything. For me, it was this:
“Fuck this. I want a life filled with happiness, love, and compassion. And you know what? I deserve it. It’s mine for the taking, so why am I holding myself back?”
Hopefully, even after reading this small passage by Allie – you are starting to feel less alone, more empowered and find comfort in the idea of moving forward.
7. Accept that your time was wasted and the relationship wasn’t real
Realise, no matter what they said, the relationship was not real. If it was, you would have known all the circumstances (including if they cheated, when and who it was with) and been able to have made an informed decision. If it was real and you had recognised that it was toxic for you… well there’s no way any rational person would be in it in the first place. So the person can say what they like, but the entire relationship was fake.
8. Use visualisation techniques
Visualise yourself collecting all the beautiful things you said to this person, all the good times, all the money you spent, the time you invested … and rip it off them! It’s like snatching back everything they have taken from you. Now that you’ve got all these emotions and beautiful words you said to them back and they’re clear of the toxic person, put it straight back on yourself. You deserve all the good you put into the relationship – they do not. So using visualisation you’re collecting all the good stuff back from the relationship (everything that’s yours and nothing they ever deserved), packing up all your hard efforts, boxing every sweet word and good deed you did, and then dumping it right back on yourself. Guess what they have now? Nothing! Empowering, huh?
9. Communicate with them using only visualisation techniques
Use visualisation to scream at the person: “You’re delusional! Everything was FAKE! I could never love you because I never knew you!” It may sound crazy but it’s quite cathartic! Everything you want to do to them or say to them do it in your mind. Play it all out and be done with it. It beats any consequences from actually becoming self-destructive.
10. Detox yourself as much as possible
Be strong! This is where hitting SHIFT DELETE (hard erasing on your computer, beyond any point of return) on your keyboard is your best friend. Go to any photo, any letter, any memory of that person. Select. SHIFT DELETE. Delete their phone number. Delete their email. Lose their address. Rip up every hard-copy photo. Bag up everything you want to return to them and be done with it. Go on a massive, deleting, destructive mission. By the end of it you will feel as though the relationship is just … ERASED! Don’t get me wrong: you won’t feel good, you won’t feel satisfied, you won’t get your smile back for a very, very long time … but it’s less painful stuff to look at and remember.
11. Lean on people around you for support
Make a pact with someone you really trust and love, that you will not be in touch with this person again. This means, while you’re vulnerable, you’ll be able to rely on the strength of others.
12. Quit asking yourself why and trying to figure out what was real
You’ve been stripped of your dignity, you’re hurting to capacity and now you’re finding yourself torturing yourself with a million questions: WHY WHY WHY! These questions are better left unanswered – and sometimes they don’t even come with answers – so instead of asking, accept the situation for what it is.
Don’t try to work out what was real because I can tell you now: it was all fake! If you had known the circumstances – would you really have been with that person in the way you were? Don’t give the toxic person the satisfaction of thinking it would be real had you have known the real scenario. Deep down they know it wasn’t real as well, otherwise they would have come clean about any deceit at the start.
If you are going to ask questions, ask them of yourself as a way of moving forward – this will empower you. Kris Carr wrote a really good blog about “How to identify and release toxic relationships”. Some of the questions you should be asking yourself to realise you were in a toxic relationship and start accepting the situation, come from her blog:
– Is the pain too great to stay the same?
– Do I constantly picture an alternate reality?
– Is it impossible to make boundaries?
– Is getting an apology (when it’s truly deserved) like pulling teeth?
– Does the relationship take more energy than it gives?
– Is blaming and complaining (coming from the toxic person) becoming really boring?
– Am I completely fatigued when I’m with that person and energetic when they’re gone?
– Am I afraid of what people will think of me if this relationship fails?
– Does the person make you feel as though you’ll be lost without them?
– Do I miss the old me?
I’ve walked away – now what?
Unfortunately there is no way to fast-track your way through dealing with the pain. There’s no potion to take it all away. Take every positive distraction possible. See a good life coach, psychotherapist or psychologist (preferably who specialises in relationships and domestic violence) if you need to. Chat to people – you’ll be surprised about how much support you receive. You need to sit with this incredible feeling of loneliness – it’s hurtful if they’ve left for someone else because your thoughts tell you they’re cosy, warm and feeling loved, while you’re left out in the cold – but don’t forget the truth: long-term, this relationship will not last either – and if it does, it’ll never be the same. There will always be discomfort, pain and mistrust. Consider your situation the lucky escape – well done, you’ve dodged a bullet!
Are you recovering from a toxic relationship? Please share your experience below.
Need more help? I’m a qualified life coach who specialises in recovering from failed, toxic and abusive relationships, whether they’re career-related, family-related or romantic. For personalised assistance, contact me via email for my rates: email@example.com
No one has ever become poor by giving. Anne Frank
Many people are interested in working for a charity or not for profit organisation that has a good cause – however there’s not a lot of work available in these workplaces as many people stay in their role. Why? Because not only is helping other people satisfying, and particularly if you’re passionate about the cause you are supporting, but there are great benefits!
Today, Monday, 12 August is International Youth Day recognising the positive contribution youth make and this year the theme celebrates Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward. “While migration can often offer valuable opportunities and contribute to the development of communities and society at large, it can also pose risks and lead to unacceptable situations, including discrimination and exploitation,” the United Nations says.
Many organisations have been set up to help youths in that may be in this situation or with complications as a result of migrating (such as mental health problems: anxiety and depression) including the Commonwealth Students Association (empowers and encourages students to have a coordinated voice in decision making in the Commonwealth Education Sector), St Vincent de Paul (helps people in need and combats social injustice across Australia), Headspace (Australia’s National Youth Mental Health foundation – they help young people who are going through a tough time) and BeatBullying (all about young people helping and supporting each other online). Meanwhile, World Vision’s 40-Hour Famine begins this Friday, 16 August and is also one of Australia’s biggest community awareness and youth fundraising events.
This week Happiness Weekly looks at how working for a charity or Not For Profit organisation with a great cause improves your outlook on life.
1. Like volunteering – it’s all about the purpose
There is nothing more rewarding than helping others and giving back to the community. The best thing about working for a charity is you have all the benefits of volunteering (aside from the flexibility of working whatever hours you like) and you get paid while you do it. There’s no doubt it can be hard work at times, but it’s always rewarding – add passion for the cause and you could well find yourself in your dream job!
2. It makes you more self-aware
If you’re working for a cause you’re not familiar with, it will be like becoming a doctor. You’ll learn the symptoms of the problem, hear about the debilitating consequences and complications associated with the cause and you’ll do everything in your power to avoid the problem you’re working to solve for everyone else! On a brighter note, you will be the first to know if you have even the slightest symptoms of developing the problem. While it can make some people paranoid, others just grow with self-awareness.
3. You’ll learn A LOT as you grow and develop
Not only will you grow and develop in your role as you will in any organisation (we hope!), but you will also learn a lot about: the cause, the complications, advocacy and government, the people you are helping, volunteering, education techniques, various payroll benefits… the list goes on. You name it, there is a lot to learn when you enter the world of working for a charity organisation and it’s not just about role development and climbing the corporate ladder. Day one – prepare for information overload!
4. It’s family-friendly and flexible
The general consensus looking at people who work for charity organisations is that they are family-friendly and flexible. It’s almost like working for a family business … but with more people! Everyone generally leaves on-time and there are usually part-time and flexi-time (or time in lieu) options to ensure employees maintain a healthy work/life balance. So if you’re chasing balance and want to work somewhere that appreciates you’re human not robot, working for a charity may be the best option for you! A work/life balance means more time for you and the things and people you love.
5. People appreciate you
Not just the people at work, but the people you are helping and the volunteers who can see the work you do will always appreciate you. Each day there’s generally someone in your building who will say or do something lovely that will inspire you and keep you motivated to continue working to the cause. Work becomes a great place to make friends! Why? It’s stereotypical, but the people who work in these kinds of organisations are generally very supportive, nurturing and caring.
6. You’ll be inspired
Sometimes it’s the people who haven’t got things, have less of things, or are missing something who are happier and have a more positive outlook than other people. Speaking to some of the volunteers and even employees with the illness at the charity I have been working for has been extremely inspiring, and I must say it has motivated me to work to my full potential every day.
Want to know more about what it’s like working for a charity? Read this fantastic interview by TotalJobs.com, with Fundraising Development Manager Eve Robinson from the Epilespy Society.
I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know? Ernest Hemingway
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have this amazing ability to fall asleep within seconds every night. Seconds! It’s almost like I’m hypnotised … someone can go “Go to sleep” – and that’ll be it, I’ll be asleep. How do I do it? Through my journey of becoming more self-aware, I discovered that stress has the opposite effect – I can go from sleeping really easily, to not sleeping at all. Anxiety has been known to keep me up all night. And, unfortunately, I’m one of these people who can’t function very well off less than eight hours of sleep a night – especially during winter! Did you see my post about the benefits of receiving sleep? You can read that here.
These are my tips for how to fall asleep quickly:
Step one – know your blocks … and avoid them!
If something is keeping you up at night or wakes you in the middle of the night, it’s important to know what it is that is disturbing you. Ask yourself some questions: Is it your body clock that naturally keeps you awake? If so, how can you work with that? Is it stress? Is it noisy neighbours? Perhaps it’s that you woke late in the day and your body doesn’t need that much rest? Have you stopped being as active as you usually are? Take a look at your lifestyle and any changes that may have caused you not to be able to sleep easily at night, and don’t be afraid to head to the pharmacist and collect a set of ear plugs and eye mask if that will help!
Step two – watch what you eat
Don’t eat so much in the evening that you’re completely bloated. Don’t go to bed on a full stomach – it won’t be comfortable or easy to sleep and it’s also harder for the food to break down. Avoid stimulants in the evening at all costs. No coke, don’t drink too much alcohol or eat too many sugary foods. Avoid carbs where you can – fish and vegetables, steak and salad … a protein and some leafy vegetables or salads is the best way to go!
Step three –get as comfortable as you can
I find that if I go to sleep with my partner, then I’ll sleep all night – perhaps I subconsciously think of him as my protector. But if I’m sleeping on my own, I will wake during the night, generally to a noise. The trick to sleeping all night is to get as comfortable as you can with your surroundings. I try to use a pillow to act as his body-double when he is not around, to trick myself into noticing it less. I have noticed in the morning the pillow often ends up on the ground … fortunately my partner does not! I also notice that when I’m sleeping alone that I wake more easily to noise and disturbances and I find it hard to get back to sleep after that. In this scenario I try to do some meditation – and I keep a second lock on the door to ensure that there are no unexpected visitors during the night. If I’m really concerned, I’ll get up to check the door is locked before returning back to bed – once I know the door is locked, I can rest more easily.
Step four – don’t watch the clock
I notice that a lot of the time when people wake during the night they immediately check the clock, and their mind instantly does the maths “Oh – two hours to go… what if I can’t get to sleep in that two hours? But it’s only four in the morning… I’m going to get bored…” and so their mind wonders and worries and it will keep you up. Checking the clock just gives you another reason for your mind to wander onto something that will only disturb you. The light from looking at your clock will also wake you more than you would otherwise feel if you don’t look at the clock. Learn to trust your alarm clock. Set your alarm and tell yourself you won’t look at your clock, or your phone, unless you are disabling the alarm in the morning.
Step five – keep a worry pad
When stress has me awake in the night, I do my best work! I keep a worry pad next to my bed, I will come up with an action plan and write it all down. Once I’m satisfied that everything is on paper and I won’t forget it the next day, I generally find I’m able to return to sleep more easily. Worst case scenario, I will start working but get a much earlier night the following evening.
Step six – make the room as dark as possible
Make the room as dark as possible, and as soon as you shut your eyes, tell yourself that you won’t open them until morning. Once I’ve set my mind that it’s bed time, I just won’t let myself wake up. Lights out is lights out. The darker the room is, the easier it is to sleep. Use an eye mask if you need to.
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