How to Use Meditation for Night Anxiety
Do you have anxiety at night? Do you feel that every emotion in the world floods towards you the second you get into bed? You are not alone!
Night anxiety is something that affects millions of people around the world every night. But what causes night anxiety?
The moment your head hits the pillow - you are finally in a state of "relaxation" that allows your mind to notice what’s going on. During the day, you are preoccupied with work or other activities, keeping your mind active. When it’s time to shut down - you can start to get “system overload” because everything floods through your brain at once.
System Overload: When too much information is trying to process at once.
Think of your mind as a computer. In order for a computer to run smoothly it needs to have a well-running operating system. Our brains work the same way. Unlike a computer, we can’t just type in a code to fix a problem but what we can do is use mediation to guide our thoughts and train our minds to let go and be calm.
During “shut down”, as I like to call it, your brain replays everything that happened throughout the day or plays a theater preview of what might happen in the days to come. How do we train our minds to shut down properly without all the pop-ups? I am going to teach you a way that I finally got my “computer” inside my head to shut down at night through meditation.
Shut Down: The process of turning your brain off to rest and reboot.
Having Muscular Dystrophy and not being able to physically move myself at night, I was largely affected by anxiety especially at night for a long time. It is something that ambushed me every time the lights went out. I would instantly think about everything that happened that day and if there was something I should've done differently. My thoughts didn't stop churning about what happened that day, but it would continue towards what will happen tomorrow. Will I wake up on time? Will my plans work out? Will I get done everything that I need to? Will my caregiver show up? Or even, how will what happened today affect tomorrow? The list went on.
Meditation is that one tool that you can bring with you no matter where you are, even if you are traveling because anxiety travels too. Start at your own comfort and pace, remembering that there is truly no wrong way to practice. This is about you and your sleep. I hope this mediation helps you to take control of your night and teaches you to show your anxiety who’s boss.
How-to Shut Down to Get a Good Nights Rest
STEP 1 – Time
Give yourself time to wind down, free of technology and distractions.
- If your anxiety stems from or involves getting things done, create a checklist to reassure your mind before you start relaxation.
- Try to give yourself 30 minutes to one hour (even 15 minutes is better than nothing) to do something you love. Read, draw or even do a puzzle.
- Enjoy a sleep-time or chamomile tea to help relax the nerves.
- Try to stay away from technology. The light is known to keep your brain waves active which can make sleeping difficult.
STEP 2 – Environment
Have a clean and safe space to sleep, where you can let go.
- Incorporate scents of lavender into the room.
- Create a space free of clutter. (A cluttered space = a cluttered mind)
- Make sure you feel safe to let your mind be free. (Locked door or anything that eases your mind.)
STEP 3 – The Meditation
Remember there is no right or wrong way. Don’t be afraid to let go and it’s OK if it takes a few times to get a hold of the practice. You can alter this meditation to fit your needs and abilities (ex: if you can’t lay on your back, lay comfortably for you).
- Start by laying on your back.
- Place your arms comfortably by your sides.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose, filling your lungs and breathe out your mouth slowly. Feel your body going deeper into the bed with each breath.
- Take notice to this exact moment in time. The sounds, the way you feel and your blankets protecting you from any negativity. You are safe. You are in a space where you can let go. At this moment there are no demands, no needs and no responsibilities except to breathe deeply. This moment is yours.
Whatever your worries are that are giving you this anxious feeling, know that you are in control. This is your life and anxiety cannot control it. With each breath you let out, imagine the weight of your worries lifting. Feel your body getting lighter. Repeat to yourself:
I am safe.
I am in control.
My anxiety does not control me.
Concentrate on your breathing.
You are safe in this place.
You control your anxiety. Tell your anxiety that you are in control and that the universe will protect you. Believe in yourself!
Start to imagine yourself in a place all your own. What does it look like? Smell of? Is it night or day? This is your place! You control everything about it, you can be all you want to be and this place is endless.
Explore your place in your mind and let your imagination run free as you slowly drift to sleep.
Jacquelynn Cowles, CHN & Lifestyle/Wellness Blogger