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My Spiritual Self-Help Guide

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Can't Sleep? Can't Relax?

Break Out of the Vicious Circle of Poor Quality Sleep

Relaxing Scene - Relaxers on the Beach

Does your life just keep on getting busier and busier? We all seem to live such busy lives these days. So much is expected of us that it's difficult to find the time for rest and recuperation. But if we don't make the time to relax our bodies and minds, we start to run into problems in our lives. So many of us are choosing to relax in ways that are not particularly effective and so our quality of life is suffering. If you feel tired or anxious most of the time, or if you're struggling to sleep or rarely feel relaxed, this article can help you.

Relaxation or Distraction?

With the age of mobile technology, work seems to follow us wherever we go and it's almost impossible to switch off from your social life. Many of us turn to the distractions of eating, alcohol, nicotine, social media, computer games, the internet or television for some respite from our busy-ness but instead of helping us to relax, we end up highly stimulated with short attention spans and racing minds. That is because these distractions are false friends in our quest for relaxation.

The Vicious Circle

The more we stimulate ourselves with these artificial relaxants, the harder it is to switch off and relax properly. Often they provoke an overt or underlying sense of anxiety and our sleep suffers as a consequence of our restless mind. When we don't sleep well, we don't wake up feeling refreshed. We are more easily tired but find it harder to relax. We end up in a vicious circle - our ability to deal with our lives effectively and to work productively decreases and so we turn more and more to artificial stimulants to numb out the tiredness, escape from ourselves and drown the nagging voice of our mind. Really, we are just making unwise choices and it might be time to choose again.

Expectations Can Be Dangerous

So, how can we break out of this cycle and reclaim our natural ability to relax and sleep well? Well, firstly realise that you can't control external conditions. Life is the way it is and, in itself, does not make you tense, stressed or unable to relax. It's your mind that does that. Often we work too hard because we believe others have certain expectations of us that we must meet. How real are these expectations and how much are they in our own minds? Perhaps it's time to lighten up and take stock of what is really important to us.

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Prioritise and Manage Time

Developing good time management skills is important. Obviously time is limited and so there is only so much that we can achieve in any given period. Work out your priorities in relation to your life goals and make these the important tasks on your list. Say no to those tasks that seem urgent but are really not important in meeting your goals. Often the areas where we can reclaim time and use it more effectively are those hours we spend doing the activities mentioned above - our distractions or false friends in relaxation.

Your Nightly Relaxation Routine

Make a point of re-learning how to relax. Most of us are so overstimulated that we have forgotten how to do this. Firstly decide how much sleep you need and then decide on a reasonable hour to go to bed to make sure you get this. Then develop a pre-bedtime routine that is going to put you into a relaxed state of body and mind.

This means for at least half an hour (preferably an hour or more) before you go to bed, you turn off the television, switch off the computer and any other electronic devices and put down the book. Try just sitting quietly with yourself, perhaps in your garden if you have one and it's a nice evening. Maybe try a relaxing drink such as camomile tea, do some meditation or listen to some "chill out" music or a relaxation track. Let your mind and body come to rest and relaxation. If you are prepared to do this regularly you will soon notice an improvement in your sleep patterns. If you feel that you can't do this, you probably need it even more and you might want to question your priorities.

Benefits of Relaxation and a Good Night's Sleep

When you start to get good quality sleep and relaxation time, you will find yourself able to work better and fit more into your life. You will feel more relaxed about life in general and better able to cope with its ups and downs. Your quality of sleep and relaxation will be reflected in your quality of life, in your relationships with everyone around you and your health will almost certainly start to improve when you start to look after yourself better. At the end of the day, it's your choice whether you make rest and relaxation a priority in your life but there are certainly enormous benefits for those who do. It's absolutely essential if you want to feel good and be productive and effective.

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