IMAGINE YOURSELF TO SLEEP
Our minds can keep us awake at night but, with a bit of know how, they can also be one of our most powerful tools to help us get to sleep. One of the simplest ways to soothe yourself ready for bed is to use the relaxation technique of visualisation.
Picturing yourself in a calm, beautiful place can reduce anxiety and turn off the body's stress response. It’s a handy trick to have up your sleeve whenever stress hits in daily life, but particularly handy once you switch out the light to help your mind drift.
1. Pick a place. Choose a setting that evokes a sense of peacefulness and serenity for you. It can be a real place, in other words, somewhere you have actually been, or it could just be a place from your imagination. The following possibilities are offered as a guide, but feel free to use whatever place works for you. The only requirements are that the place feels peaceful, safe and serene to you.
2. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in your peaceful place. It’s as simple as that. Your beautiful, safe place is waiting for you whenever you choose to go there.
3. Imagine the smells. To help you to get the most out of the experience, focus on the smells that are a part of your safe place. What scents are in the air? Are there flowers? Ocean saltiness? Just clean, fresh air?
4. Listen. What are the sounds in your place? Quiet? The wind rippling the leaves? The gentle roar of the surf? Birds singing or chirping? The gurgling of the stream?
5. Feel. What sensations can you feel on your skin as you relax in your serene spot? The heat of the sun? A gentle breeze? A light spray coming off the tops of the waves? The cool ground beneath you? The warm sand?
6. Look. As you gaze around your spot, what do you see? The beauty of nature? The gorgeous blues of the sky? Wispy white clouds? The crystal-like colors of the water making its way downstream? The reds, yellows and oranges of leaves or wildflowers? The deep sea green of waves before they topple into a froth of white?
7. Gently banish disruptive thoughts. Use your imagination to help shoo away the intrusive thoughts that love to pop up, particularly when we are trying to enjoy some peace and quiet. Attach the thought to a twig floating downstream or to a cloud that drifts off the horizon.
8. Enjoy. This is your time to be quiet and relaxed so that you can recharge your batteries. Keep telling yourself that this is your special place, where you are completely safe and that all of your worries and concerns are far away
Top Tip: Having a physical prop from your 'relaxing' place helps your mind to go there when you need it to. For example, if your happy place is the beach, keep a pebble from the shoreline on your bedside table as to remind your of what it likes to be there and use it to help your imagination zip there when you want to soothe your mind to sleep.