I was talking to my roommate about sleep and morning routines and journaling. I tend to journal in the morning, but she argued that it makes more sense to journal at night, when you can write down all the thoughts that have built up in your head over the day. Maybe it would help me sleep better, she suggested. And then when you wake up, your mind is blank. Hmm. But don't you think writing about the day before lets you take a more objective view? I wondered.
I was thinking about this some more, and noticed that last night I WAS having trouble shutting off the monkey mind. Actually, I didn’t want to shut it off. Turning out the light was exactly the opportunity my brain needed to go crazy and think up all sorts of nonsense. And it wasn’t positive stuff either.
Here's my list:
- I want everyone to leave me alone
- I’m closing myself off from people
- I feel lonely
- Maybe my friend’s aren’t really as close as I thought, maybe other people tend to have closer friends
- If I went MIA for a week, would anyone even notice?
- I don’t feel secure in my friendships, like if I stopped making an effort they would disappear
- I’m out of practice with uncomfortable conversations
- I can’t sleep because all these thoughts are going round in my head!
Uh oh, not good. What happened? Where did these thoughts come from? Stress? Hormones?
And then I told myself, this is totally a mindset thing. And in addition to that, I can hack this. I can engineer a solution to this problem. Ok, I told myself, you’re feeling a bit depressed, what are you going to do about it?
I split my approach into three categories: changing my physiology, changing my mindset, and developing new systems.
First things first: high intensity exercise. I ran hill sprints. I started smiling, drank some coffee, listened to music, and then took a nap (I think I got that the right way around ;-) I remembered Amy Cutty's advice about changing your posture to change your outlook, so I put my hands on my hips while I was waiting for my eggs to cook.
I realized I'd been focusing on the things I didn't have instead of the things I did have. And I'd been focusing on what I get from others, instead of what I can do for them. I can't control other people, but I can change my perceptions. Everyone's busy and needs to ignore in-coming messages sometimes, just like me. Love and friendship is about what I can give to others, and the commitments I make to them, not the other way around.
I liked my roommate's idea of writing down everything on my mind before bed. I’m going to start keeping a notepad by my pillow for that purpose, and then I can reflect more objectively on these notes in the morning. I get to keep my morning routine the same, and hopefully sleep better too.