As soon as it's time to go to sleep, your mind starts racing with an endless stream of thoughts. You're thinking about growing your business, leading your team, presenting next week, creating ample amounts of time for your important relationships, hitting this quarter's financial goal, and how you didn't finish today's to-do list.
You look at the clock and realize how late it is. Now you've added another stressor to the list. Are you having trouble sleeping because you're anxious and stressed out? Or are you anxious and stressed out because you can't sleep?
If this describes you, don't feel ashamed--you're not alone. I experience this feeling from time to time and frequently see it in the clients I work with.
What's this problem that we're experiencing?
It's called not settling the conflict.
Not settling the conflict is stress that's left unaddressed, which only leads to it compounding. With that said, seven out of 10 adults in the U.S. experience stress or anxiety daily. Unfortunately, more than half of those same adults experience stress-induced sleep problems several times a week.
According to the American Psychological Association, we're more stressed than ever before, which is affecting us both physically and emotionally. Stress isn't just something that affects your health; it wrecks your professional world due to fatigue, burn out, foggy brain, and irritability, among a slew of traits.
Before we proceed any further, it needs to be mentioned that stress is inherently a good thing in the right dosage. Unfortunately, with the fast pace of today's world, maintaining a proper dosage is difficult. Stress is a tricky entity with multiple identities, which can manifest in a multitude of ways in your life. That's why it's sometimes hard to settle the conflict.
Stress can appear in an emotional, environmental, financial, relational, physical, or professional form. With that said, here are three ways to settle the conflict.
1. Implement yoga
I'll admit, I use to scoff at the idea of yoga. But as I've gotten older (and hopefully wiser), I've come to appreciate yoga. Not only is yoga great from a flexibility and posture standpoint, it's beneficial from a cognitive standpoint that translates to a higher likelihood of obtaining high-quality sleep.
In fact, a national survey discovered that over 55 percent of people who practiced yoga found that it led to obtaining higher quality sleep, while 85 percent said it reduced stress.
An exhaustive and fancy list of poses isn't necessary--implementing these seven poses is plenty to help settle the conflict.
2. Exercise early in the day
Exercise is a stressor, and when done close to bedtime, it can possibly interfere with your sleep quality due to elevated cortisol levels.
Start exercising in the morning as a way to build resiliency for the upcoming workday, along with a positive outlook, thanks to the endorphins being released. In this study, three exercise groups were assigned different workout times consisting of 7 a.m., 8 a.m., and 7 p.m. The early morning group lowered their blood pressure the most, slept the longest, and experienced the highest quality of sleep.
Nothing arduous is necessary, nor is a marathon session a requirement to experience the benefits. In fact, 30 minutes is plenty.
3. Practice relaxation breathing
I know this sounds like a no-brainer. But the specific type of breathing used here is the 4-7-8 method. There have been claims of people falling asleep within 60 seconds of using this type of breathing--though I've never personally experienced that type of effect nor met someone who has achieved that.
This type of breathing provides a benefit when it comes to relaxing from a busy and demanding day. To get started:
- Exhale completely through your mouth while sitting in a comfortable position.
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale through your mouth for a count of eight (you'll make a whoosh sound).
- That's one complete breath. Repeat this cycle for a total of four.
When you're looking to obtain the highest results out of life, stress is an unspoken companion that tags along. But stress doesn't have to wreck your personal and professional life. A few simple behaviors will make a world of difference when it comes to settling the conflict.