Does stress keep you awake at night?

Worry and anxiety is a physical response to something that might harm you, it is your body’s way of keeping you safe. You might respond in different ways. You could go into what is known as “fight” mode when stressed, or might become angry and agitated. Or use the “flight” mode and become withdrawn and depressed. Finally, there is “freeze” and you are incapable of doing anything when stressed. Depending on how you respond to stress, it may keep you awake at night with thoughts running out of control in your head.

For example, you may see failing an exam as a threat to your future and go into “fight” mode. Your body may react by causing you to feel stressed so that you stay up late and study hard. But after you have finished studying, the effects of stress may wear on and keep you up at night. In this way, stress can be both beneficial and harmful. While you may benefit from studying, you still need your rest to stay healthy.

Why are you stressed?

If you are so stressed that you cannot sleep, it is important to pinpoint the cause of your stress. Figuring out what is bothering you and doing what you can to deal with the problem may help you to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Consider what you are stressed about and how you can resolve the problem.

If you are feeling stressed because of an upcoming event, like an interview or new contract, you may soothe your stress by preparing well before the event rather than waiting until the night before to panic. Write down the possible questions and answers you may be given. Check on the web for ideas. Ask colleagues and friends for their experience and advice.

If you are dealing with something that is beyond your control, such as an illness, you may be able to soothe your stress by talking about the problem with a trusted friend or writing about it in a journal.

Have you tried writing your troubles down? Writing about your worries earlier in the day puts things into perspective. Journaling is a great way to sort things that you can’t control but still may stress about, such as other people’s feelings or one day being on the plane that crashes or being cornered by a huge spider or being eaten by a werewolf in London (worry isn’t necessarily rational). Try getting out all of your worries on paper. This can often provide an immediate sense of relief.

Ask yourself whether what’s stressing you out is a “what if.” These are the uncontrollable thoughts, like werewolves in London. Are you posing a hypothetical? Is it beyond what you could control? Remind yourself that you cannot control anything but your own actions and responses. This can help you set those other worries free.

Ask yourself whether you are worrying about someone else’s actions or feelings. You can’t control anyone’s actions other than your own, but this likely doesn’t stop you from worrying about other people sometimes. Try acknowledging that you are worried but reminding yourself that you aren’t responsible for anyone other than yourself, like so: “I’m stressed about my job. I think my boss may sack me. I can’t control what he/she does. He is unfriendly and aggressive, even though I always do my best. I don’t even like working there because she’s/he’s so unpleasant. Rather than just worrying, I am going to put out some applications for a new job tomorrow.” By letting go of your need to control others, you allow yourself to let go of the stress that accompanies that need.

Problem-solve. If you have determined that the stress is due to something that you can address, try writing out a list of some options for addressing it. Actively problem-solving can help you feel like you are making progress toward solving the source of your stress, rather than allowing yourself to get stuck in a negative feedback loop.

So if you’re worried about that practical driving test tomorrow, or exam, consider whether it would help to practice online more. Are you really likely to learn a lot more between now and the test by cramming? Science says no. So, you could take action by deciding to speak with your teacher or find a tutor in the subject. These will not necessarily help you smash the test, but they are decisions that can help you stop stressing about your ability in the test.

Do you also often worry about big things such as relationships or jobs at night?  Resolve to find a solution to what’s causing you stress the next day (or the next week, or however long you need to make a plan). You might say: “I’m really upset about my boyfriend. He doesn’t talk to me as much as he did. I will speak with him tomorrow and ask what’s going on.”

Once you have decided what to do, let it go. You know what you are going to do about your stress tomorrow. You can’t do anything else tonight, so let yourself relax and sleep so you’ll be better prepared to put your plan into action.

Set a “bliss break.” Telling yourself to “stop stressing out” can be about as effective as telling yourself not to think about pink elephants. Instead of trying to suppress your stress, give yourself a short, set period of time earlier in the day during which you can worry away.

Make sure not to let the period become too long, or you risk falling into the obsessing trap, that hamster wheel in which your thoughts just repeat over and over without addressing anything.

Try to puzzle out what’s worrying you during your worry period. Really run with it. Try writing out a list of everything that’s got you stressed out. You can refer to this list during your daily bliss break.

Be kind to yourself as you worry. Try not to beat yourself up over your stress. Acknowledge that worry and stress happen to everyone. They’re not a sign that anything is “wrong” with you.

Plan to worry later. Sometimes, it can help to tell yourself that you will worry about something later (perhaps during your bliss break!). This way, you accept that you feel stressed, but you’re also able to save that stress to deal with later so you can drift off now. Be creative: thank the worry for letting you know the concern. Treat the thought or feeling like a confused elderly gentleman or lady. Or even a two year on a mission to keep your attention at the most inappropriate time. Imagine you’re the film producer and make a short movie with a satisfactory ending tomorrow. Put the whole worry into a box marked “I promise to deal with this later.”

When you wake up get into the habit of thinking about everything you are grateful and thankful for. Add this to your journal writings. Start with 10 things you are grateful about. 

The beautiful sunrise.

The dawn chorus.

A fabulous song bringing a huge smile and a wonderful feeling

The birth of a beloved child

Meeting your closest friend for lunch.

Sharing a joke.

Smelling fresh roses, cut grass or the earth after rainfall.

Hearing the laughter of someone you love.

Having food in your cupboards.

Being alive, after a serious illness or hearing good news about your health.

The sound of rain on the roof……………

Add another happiness fact each day until you get at least 100 and keep going………….

And remember to,

“Let it go with Hypnowithjo!”

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