The fight against night-time anxiety.
The mechanism differs from person to person. In this article I would like to share my experience and how I won against night anxiety. This type of anxiety creates insomnia, elevates cortisol and can cause health and physique problems, especially if you are over 40.
Table of Contents
How and when it happens
When one suffers from mid-night anxiety, they tend to wake up in the middle of the night (whatever the reason) and then fail to go back to sleep because the thinking mechanism kicks in, bringing bad thoughts to the forefront. These thoughts often reflect problems that we are currently facing or may be coming from our past. As soon as we start mulling over these, we find ourselves trapped in an endless loop of ‘what ifs’ and ‘hows’ which results in us disrupting our sleep.
Throughout the years, I have learned a lot of stress management techniques such as meditation and relaxation protocols that have helped me in dealing with stress. These skills along with proper nutrition, supplementation and training made me believe that I could handle anything.
Life can get overwhelming sometimes. All of a sudden, you find yourself in a foreign country as a newlywed at a new job, working on a very busy and important project. Trying to juggle all these new roles and responsibilities (as well as other countless stress factors) were extreme sources of stress but I held up just fine. But of course, life sometimes decides to throw you a curve ball.
The project I was working on got seriously derailed, which also endangered the ‘job security’ (which is a myth anyway) of everyone on my team (including yours truly), a few weeks before Christmas. I wasn’t happy, obviously, but decided that it would not take over and it didn’t.
However, when dealing with such things, they tend to sneak up on you when you least expect them. That particular day was a great day and I had just finished my meditation and went to sleep without any problems. So far so good. But then I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and found myself thinking. I started replaying an incident at the company in my head and I was not happy. Bad move. Welcome to planet anxiety!
But I wasn’t going to give up without a fight.
So this is exactly the steps I took:
1. Understand that you are stepping into a mind-trap
Once I realized where this thinking pattern was going, I decided not to give in. I immediately focused on my latest progress and how happy I was with it.
Realization is the first step. Do not wait for you to be sucked down the blackest of black holes. Instead, stop it the moment you see it unfold. This is very important in order to avoid being caught in the endless thinking loop that will get you further down the rabbit hole.
Plus, we need to stay focused and conserve as much thinking power as we can for the following steps.
2. DON’T Fight it!
Yes, you heard that right. Even though I am a firm believer in not giving up in anything you do, sometimes you need to pick your battles, walk away and live to fight another day.
Ask yourself this: is it better to just ram your head into a wall until your head gives in or should you just retreat and then come back with a tool that will allow you to take down the wall once and for all? (and keeping your brain inside your head)
So stop fighting it. You know you are trapped in your thoughts. Now let’s take the next step.
3. Use the power of music
I have done this since I was a child and it works like a charm every single time.
Music has the power to change our mood. It is also important that we find the music that works BEFORE we try to do this.
For this cause we need something to relax us, not super excite us.
I have done the Holosync audio meditation and it worked really well for me. You can do your own research about other products and see if you can find something that works for you.
Beware that sometimes Holosync is contraindicated for people with serious mental diseases or extreme anxiety. A good alternative is looking up for something called Reiki music or Yoga music. Below you can find an example of such music.
Earphones on, music on. On to the next step.
4. Change your focus!
We want to change the setting and turn that black hole into a white paradise.
There are 2 ways to do this:
- Think of something nice. Something that brings you happiness. Something from your past like an awesome vacation or something you will soon do like getting a new job. Fantasize about a place where you are happy and nothing can go wrong.
- Clear your mind completely. Just be blank and be in the present. Focus on your body and everything it is in contact with. Feel the mattress on your back. The feel of the sheets on your hands. The air on your forehead. Just relax.
Going back to the previous incident, let me go through my process as an example:
I thought to myself:
“I hate my job. It’s sucking the life out of me. It’s Friday night and instead of enjoying my sleep, I’m up thinking about it”
[Here comes the turning point]
“But wait a second, what if I won the lottery? What if I had all the money I needed, would I still be there? OF COURSE NOT! What would I do then? Let me see now…. first I would…”
THAT WAS IT!
After that, I focused my thoughts on the idea of being rich and not having to work for money. Every time I felt that I was going back to a nasty thought loop (e.g. “sure I have the money but what if they run out?”), I would change my approach again and make it into something positive (e.g. “they will not, I would use my free time to find out what I can do for a living, educate myself, get a business plan and use it to make more money doing what I love”).
This is something that you might not be able to do the first time as it does take some practice. Just keep going at it and you’ll be able to change a negative thought into a positive one in no time. Make it into a habit and it will stick.
Note: Never check your phone/watch
While doing this exercise it is important to take your time and never check your watch. It needs its own time and you must respect that. When I first started doing this drill, it would take me about 3-4 hours to get back on track and fall asleep happy. Last time this happened, it took me about 20-30 minutes.
So let’s recap:
- Don’t panic. Identify the problem. See what you are stepping into.
- Pause what you are doing. Understand that you are not going to win and give in.
- Take action. Grab your earphones and put some relaxing music on.
- Change your focus. Turn those nasty thoughts into happy ones!
So this is how I won against my night-time anxiety. Remember the above next time you find yourself in a similar situation and try the mentioned steps. Once you practice enough, you will be able to take control of your mind, calm yourself down and go back to sleep, happier than when you started it.
Did you ever have a similar problem? If so, what was it and what did you do to fight back? Let me know by posting a comment below.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Putting together this article took a bit of time but it will only take you a second to click on the Share buttons below and show your support to this blog.
I wish you the best of luck in fighting this uneven fight. It is one of the many steps that you must take in order to take back what is yours and live a life that is strong, healthy and free.
by Nick Sigma SHF
CW.C, EH, E-YRT200