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What is Your Bedtime Routine?

What is Your Bedtime Routine?

Back in April, I wrote a blog post in which I shared my bedtime routine. Since I struggle with anxiety and had a high stress job at the time, I really needed a routine to help establish a sense of normality. Preparing my lunches and picking out my outfit the night before also helped me go to bed with a greater sense of peace, because I knew things would be ready in the morning.

I must confess, I haven’t been great about keeping up with that routine, especially since I moved, changed jobs, and went back to school. It’s been hard finding my new normal. Life is much less structured, and sometimes a bit unpredictable.

In many ways, that’s great! I’ve had more time for me, for blogging, for dreaming, and I’ve been able to catch up on sleep! But sometimes I really miss the routine.

Anyway, I’m participating in a 7-day blogging challenge today, from www.problogger.net. It has been awesome! Today is day 6, and our challenge today was to create a piece of content that is a “discussion starter.” We’re supposed to ask a question of our audience.

So my question to you is this:

What is your bedtime routine?

Please leave a comment below and let me know what you do for your bedtime routine (or what you wish you did!) I’d love tips and fresh ideas, and I’m sure we can all learn from one another!

If you don’t have a bedtime routine, feel free to take a look at my post on what I do (or used to do, lol!) each night. It might get your juices flowin’!

Thrive: the Little Book that Changed My Life!

Thrive: the Little Book that Changed My Life!

This little book changed my life. Literally…. I’m not joking!

Background:

The Thrive book holds several lessons on holistic health, with a focus on improving quality of life for those who struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. The curriculum was developed by the Mental Health Grace Alliance, in Waco, TX.

How I Learned About Thrive:

I first got involved with the Grace Alliance after my church counselor failed to address the main concerns with which I’d come to her: my fear of conflict and increasing anxiety levels. I wasn’t ready to see a professional counselor yet, but knew I needed help.

At that time, my friend Jenna was on staff with the Grace Alliance, so I reached out to her for more information. We scheduled a meeting, and she told me all about the Thrive curriculum. I was intrigued!

The Difference it Made:

For the next few months, I met weekly with a Thrive coach, who helped me walk through the material and held me accountable in applying those truths to my life. The first topic was about sleep, and it was life altering!

At that time, I was working way too many hours at my job. I’d often stay in the office well past midnight. Yikes!! Not surprisingly, it was negatively affecting my memory, quality of work, stress levels, and overall sense of wellbeing.

The thing was, I didn’t care about myself enough to even consider making a change. The possible negative repercussions (not getting everything done perfectly, feeling like a failure, not being prepared, etc.) were too risky.

Sleep Log - Thrive WorkbookThe Thrive lesson on sleep discusses how important sleep is for quality of life as well as proper brain functioning. Our application step for that week was to try and sleep at least 7.5
hours each night, and to keep a sleep log, recording hours and quality of sleep, as well as how I felt during the next day.

I noticed these immediate benefits within just one week of proper sleeping habits:

  • A huge decrease in stress levels
  • An almost complete reversal of my anxiety
  • Improved memory functioning
  • More efficient, productive work days

But the BIG revelation was this:

I had been working myself into the ground, partly because I’m a perfectionist, but also because I truly wanted to serve people well and give back to the community. I thought that working a lot of hours was helping me get more done and provide better services, but it was slowly killing me.

Because of Thrive, I learned this vital lesson:

If I want to continue giving back to the community for the long haul (i.e. the next 30-40 years), I have to learn how to take care of myself now, so that I’ll be alive for the long haul.

And once I realized that…

For the first time ever, I was able to put my #selfcare first, without feeling guilty about it! Click To Tweet

Amazing! I truly don’t think I would have learned that lesson without having completed the Thrive curriculum. And that revelation was a springboard toward many other positive changes that have overall helped transform my life!

I’m so glad I got connected with the Grace Alliance and would highly recommend this resource to anyone!

So Here Are the Deets:

The Table of Contents is posted on the Grace Alliance website, but roughly, the book covers the following topics:

  • Physical Needs:
    • Sleep
    • Medicine
    • Relaxation
    • Diet
    • Exercise
  • Mental Needs
    • Finding Balance
    • Renewing Your Mind
    • Stress Management
    • Cycles and Triggers
    • Brain Resilience
  • Spiritual Needs
    • Hope
    • Identity
    • Relationship with God
    • Finding Purpose
    • Community
  • Relationship Needs
    • Healthy Relationships
    • Conflict Management
    • Forgiveness
    • Overcoming Stigma
    • Serving Others

Each topic includes:

  • 1-2 Scripture verses related to that topic
  • Questions for discussion / reflection
  • A bulleted list of relevant facts for better understanding of the topic
  • “Making a Change” section that gives tips and ideas for how to improve your habits and quality of life with respect to that topic
  • Homework (i.e. mood charts, sleeping logs, meal plan worksheets)

Mental Health Coaching

The Thrive book can be completed alone, but (depending on location) the Grace Alliance might also be able to provide a mental health coach who can help walk you through the curriculum. Having a coach gives you someone with whom you can discuss the material, as well as someone who will pray for you and help hold you accountable to applying the material. And accountability does wonders!!

The coach is not normally a licensed professional, but rather a peer, and should not replace professional therapy.

There is a small cost associated with utilizing a mental health coach through the Grace Alliance. It’s $35.00 per session and was designed to be not much more than a typical insurance co-pay.

Accessing a mental health coach through the Grace Alliance requires having someone in your area who has gone through their training process, but it’s my understanding that the training process is readily available. If you, or someone you know, is interested in becoming a coach, I would encourage you to contact the Mental Health Grace Alliance for more information.

Target Group:

The Thrive curriculum is designed for those who struggle with mental illness, but honestly, I believe it’s a great reference for just about anyone, providing practical skills and knowledge on holistic health.

Benefits:

  • The steps are easy to understand and apply
  • The curriculum emphasizes small, manageable changes that are sustainable, rather than large, unrealistic changes all at once
  • Each application section includes a variety of suggestions, so the book appeals to any experience level, and the reader can choose which portion he or she wants to focus on
  • Working with a coach provides accountability, which is huge!

Challenges:

  • Depending on where you live, it may be hard to find a coach
  • $35 a week for a coach comes out to $140 a month. It’s definitely worth the price, but for some, that might be too expensive. I ended up moving our meetings to every other week, to better fit my budget. The good thing is, they can be flexible with you.

Where and How to Get it:

You can purchase the Thrive book through the Mental Health Grace Alliance’ website. The booklet is $25.00 for a paper copy and $22.00 for digital only. They do have some bulk order discounts available.


Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this review and hearing about my personal experiences! I loved working through the Thrive booklet as well as attending a Grace Group with this organization.

To all the wonderful staff and volunteers of the Mental Health Grace Alliance, thank you for all you do!

Why You Should Be Showering at Night

Why You Should Be Showering at Night

Sleep Experiment

Week #2:

Bathe Before Bed

Hey everyone! We’re back for week 2 of our sleeping experiment! Last week, we learned about the 4-7-8 breathing technique. This week, we’ll talk about taking a hot shower before bed!

The Basics

Studies show that taking a hot shower or bath before heading to bed helps you sleep better. When you move from the warm temperature of the shower to the cooler temperature in your room, it sends a signal to your brain that it’s bed time. Check out Greatist’s post for more of the science behind this!

The Experience

To shower or to take a bath? That is the question! Well… not for me, because strangely enough, I hate baths! So shower it is!

And I must say there is just something incredibly delightful about a hot shower on a cold January night!

It just feels like the whole rest of the world disappears for a moment and you just hear the rushing water and feel the warmth that melts away the weight of the world. It’s amazing!

P.S. I know they say hot water is bad for your skin, because it dries it out. But I’ve never noticed a huge difference…. So it doesn’t bother me. But also be careful about not scalding yourself and, if using super duper hot water, limit your exposure time…. (The pragmatic part of me feels the need to include that statement for liability reasons!)

Whenever I did shower at night this week, I definitely noticed a difference in the speed at which I fell asleep. It was much faster!

Why you should be showering at night, and how to set a bed time routine.

Here’s why I believe it’s better to shower at night:

  • It helped me fall asleep. As I said above, warm rushing water is sooo relaxing! I go to bed without the stress of the day, because the water washed that stress right down the shower drain! And going to bed without as much stress is definitely a plus!
  • I can take my time in the shower. If I shower at night, then the next morning I won’t have to experience the panic of oversleeping and the great debate it causes: arrive at work late but clean, or arrive on time but smelly…?
  • It makes for super fast morning hair prep (if your hair is long and flowing like mine.) I can french braid my wet hair, let it dry that way over night, run my fingers through my hair in the morning, and then simply add some hair spray. Quick hassle free beach curls that look fantastic! Maybe only two minutes of morning prep time required.
  • I can sleep in longer. And that, my friends, is glorious! I’m definitely a fan of sleeping in longer! Since I don’t have to worry about a shower or hair prep, that shaves at least half an hour off my morning routine.

So What Now?

Well, I have definitely seen the benefits of showering at night. But I’m so used to showering in the morning, so I’ll need to work hard at changing that habit.

A Good Bed Time Routine

8:00 pm – Brush my teeth and start showering. Enjoy my time in the hot water, and get out by 8:30pm at the latest.

8:30 pm –  Put on pajamas and french braid my hair.

8:45 pm – Pick out my clothes for the next day and do any final tasks in preparation for tomorrow.

Meal prep.

Gather any out-of-the-norm items I’ll need and pack my bag.

Check the weather forecast. That might change my ideas on what to wear the next day.

Etc.

9:15 pm – Put away the phone. Turn off the overhead light and use the lamp on my night stand. The dim lighting is another signal to my brain that it’s time for bed.

If I’m ahead of schedule, I may use this extra time to tidy up my room just a tad. This is not a time to get distracted by other things, but just to throw any dirty clothes into the hamper, gather any books or papers into a stack, and take any dirty cups to the kitchen sink. 

9:30 pm – Set my alarm. Get into bed and start reading a book.

10:00 pm – Lights out.

To me, that sounds like a great routine! Although the idea of beginning to get ready for bed at 8pm seems… so early! But I really think it would help me out. It would decrease my stress, provide consistency, and help cater to a more peaceful morning. 

Did I miss anything?

What do you do as a part of your bedtime routine? Have you noticed any additional benefits to showering at night? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you! And don’t forget to come back in about a week for the next addition of our sleep experiment!

Ok, well, signing off now!

Sleep well, my friends!

Michelle Louise

Help Me Sleep Better, Please!

Help Me Sleep Better, Please!

“Why can’t I sleep?!?!”

That’s a question I often ask myself. I have historically had terrible sleeping patterns!

Common reasons I can’t sleep:

  • I’m too busy thinking about work.
  • My mind can’t stop replaying some negative event that happened today.
  • I took a nap earlier and now I’m not tired.
  • I stayed up too late trying to escape life by delving into the latest episode of Supernatural on Netflix.
  • I stayed up too late working on my newest, most exciting blog post!
  • Or perhaps I simply can’t sleep…. That happens too….

But sleep is sooo important!!!

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Getting enough sleep has the following benefits:

  • My memory improves.
  • I’m in a better mood the next day.
  • I can think more clearly.
  • I have a better handle on my depression and anxiety symptoms.
  • It’s easier to get up each morning and spend time with Jesus.

Sooo… I’ve done some research into interesting ways to improve my sleep, and I’m gonna do an experiment!

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I’m going to take one sleep improvement technique each week and keep a log on how well it does or does not work.

Then, at the end of each week, I’ll post about that week’s sleeping technique, sharing my results with all of you, my fabulous readers!

I hope this experiment will help each of you find a sleeping technique that works for you!

Here are the techniques I’m going to explore:

Make sure you subscribe to this blog for regular updates on the experiment.

You can subscribe by entering your email into the subscribe box on our home page, or by scrolling down to the footer (in black) below.

And please leave a comment below if

you have any other sleeping

techniques

you want me to try out.

Anyway, week one starts today! Er, last night. We’re starting out with the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Learn more about that technique here, and feel free to join me on the journey! I’m already excited about what I’ve seen with this one! I’ll post the results on or around January 6, so make sure you check back at that time. Or subscribe!

Thank you, my friends, and happy sleeping!

— Michelle Louise