Dear Brain, will you please just shut-up!
Last night my brain woke up as I went to bed!
I was struggling to keep my eyes open on the sofa, but as soon as I put my head on the pillow a flood of thoughts fired up my synapses and that sleepy feeling evaporated.
These thoughts aren’t worries, they’re creative ideas, posts for the blog, teaching goals or travel plans for the family. I’ve always been at my most creative at night; I nurtured this habit while studying but now it ‘s much less welcome when I have to get up at 6am and go to work!
So How Can You Combat Busy Brain at Bedtime?
Why do active thoughts rush in as you lay down to sleep?
Maybe because it’s the first opportunity for them to be heard all day!
I know that I am so busy with work, shopping, school runs, exercise and pets that my brain is overwhelmed each day with a running commentary of practical thoughts; ‘What am I cooking tonight? oh no, I hope the boys put their soccer kit in the wash, will I have time to dry I? did anyone feed the dogs? Oh s**t! I forgot to buy toothpaste, again…’
When I lay down to sleep the commentary of ‘life as busy mum’ is paused for the first time that day. What ensues is a tiny space.
A moment of stillness.
These thoughts have been queuing all day, possibly all week!
Teens Need A Quiet Mind Too
Teens can struggle with getting off to sleep, just like the rest of us, and although you may have created a calming bed-time routine, their minds are filled with thoughts that come racing-in as soon as their head hits the pillow! Mackenzie from Reflections from Me commented on my last post that her 11 year old daughter has a great bed-time routine, but just can’t sleep till about 10pm, leaving her short-changed on sleep.
What’s keeping her awake?
A Busy Brain!
Balm For A Busy Brain
Knowing why teens and Mum’s alike experience busy brain is the first step towards finding strategies to calm it.
If thoughts are rushing into the stillness just before sleep, then they are likely to be things that are clamouring for your attention and feel neglected.
Why are they neglected?
Five thoughts that get neglected:
- Ostracised thoughts: these are the ones you’ve been avoiding because they make you unhappy, uncomfortable or sad. You’re hoping they’ll go away if you keep ignoring them!
- Heavy weight thoughts: these are the ones that open up the proverbial ‘can of worms’; they start a snowball effect, the consequences of which seem too far-reaching to contemplate.
- Crystal ball thoughts: these are the ones that try to predict what will happen in the future; playing out scenarios for you to watch, re-casting characters and making plot changes like your own personal movie.
- Detective thoughts: these are the ones that encourage you to do a post mortem of an event, message or word; magnifying every detail looking for clues to explain why…why aren’t I invited? Why didn’t he remember? What did that smile mean?
- Dare-to-dream thoughts: these thoughts give you permission to dream, they light your creative fire and inspire you to take action to achieve personal happiness and fulfilment.
These neglected thoughts deserve your attention and acknowledgment, and without it they will continue to find opportunities to fill the spaces at the edge of your consciousness.
How To Make Friends With Neglected Thoughts
Great ways to do this are:
- Re-home your worries – write down worries and post them in a shoe box. This allows you to acknowledge and articulate them, but deal with them at another time.
- Visualise your dreams – create a vision board to see your dreams come to life, read how I created a vision board here.
- List your longings – those crystal ball thoughts belong on a list, whether it’s a bucket list or a To Do list, write it down and deal with when you’re not trying to sleep.
- Can your ‘Can of Worms’ – wash out a used can, label it ‘Can of Worms’ and drop your unsolvable thoughts into it. Once a week you & your Can of Worms can together and sort out what’s really giving you busy brain.
- Magnify your mind – go crazy with a mind map and let that over-analytical brain connect the dots; soon you’ll have enough material to start writing your first detective novel!
Representing your neglected thoughts in words or images will give them permission to rest.
They have a place to be. Which will give you a place to be without them.
Breathe, shut your eyes, notice the silence.
Goodnight Busy Brain.