The events of the past year have created a high level of stress for many people. Holiday time can be stressful in the best of years and maybe more so now. Stress in our lives activates our fight or flight mechanisms causing the release of adrenaline in the body but often without a way to use it. Over time this leaves us feeling fatigued and depleted. Getting a good amount of rest can help relieve the effects of stress but unfortunately high levels of stress often make it difficult to sleep. We may find that we can’t let our minds slow down at the end of the day or if we are able to go to sleep easily we may wake during the night with a busy mind and be unable to go back to sleep. The harder we try the more elusive sleep becomes in a vicious circle that finds us increasingly tired and more stressed. Exercise is an important ingredient in a routine to relieve stress. Through regular exercise our bodies are able to process and reduce the high levels of adrenaline, relieving tension and aiding in more restful sleep thus breaking the cycle of stress and fatigue. Swimming is an excellent full body exercise activity that strengthens and stretches while providing fun and relaxation at the same time. These are all important elements in stress relief and can lead to improved sleep.
In addition to exercise, there are healthy sleep habits that can lead to more restful sleep, reducing stress levels. In our wired world we are no longer tied to our circadian rhythms linked to light and dark which establish natural sleep patterns. We can respect and help reestablish those rhythms through mimicking dusk at the end of the day. By dimming lights in rooms and on screens several hours before going to bed we allow our minds to process the slowing of the end of the day. It also helps to transition from the activity of day to the quiet of night before getting into bed. Try a pre sleep ritual to slow down. This might include a warm salt soak, lighting a candle for softer light and listening to soothing music in place of watching TV or staying on the computer until you are ready to hit the pillow. Creating a clean, quiet bedroom space that is separate from work space is also helpful. If you do wake during the night it is better to get up and go to another room, have a cup of tea or read quietly until you again feel sleepy.
Natural Rest offers an additional tool to aid in experiencing restorative sleep. Developed by veteran massage therapist Bonnie Stetson, Natural Rest is a therapeutic aromatherapy massage treatment designed to specifically address stress reduction and the connection to restorative sleep. Bonnie has created unique essential oil blends using the medical aromatherapy principle of the synergistic action of like oils that work through absorption and inhalation in concert with client tailored therapeutic hands on work to calm, ground and relax, creating a pre sleep state. A take away vial of the oil can be used at home for inhalation to reconnect to the massage state when preparing for sleep. Natural Rest also offers a blend of infused oils only for pregnant and nursing mothers. This massage technique can be a compliment to or an alternative to sleep aids. If you use a sleep aid be sure to consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current routine. If you would like more information about Natural Rest please contact Bonnie Stetson, LMT at 917-375-5435 or BonnieStetson@att.net. Sweet dreams.