Top Ten Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

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A good laugh and a good sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book” (Irish Proverb)

There’s no doubt about it, a good night’s sleep can make all the difference to how we feel and how well we function. In this article I share my top ten tips for a better sleep.

Sleep affects mental and physical health

Sleep is a vital ingredient for physical and mental wellbeing, yet 33-45% of adults report having inadequate sleep*. The consequences of poor sleep are not just cosmetic (“Oh gawd, look at the dark circles under my eyes!”). Of more serious concern to the individual and the whole community are health problems, worker safety and performance, and risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Sleep is complicated!

The research tells us there are many factors that affect sleep quality and quantity. Now everyone’s different and some of us are more sensitive to some of these factors than other people. It’s not a black and white science that we’re dealing with – many of the studies have been done in clinical settings (not in the home) and have tested for more extreme conditions of one factor at a time, rather than a mixture of different factors that we’re more likely to experience in our everyday lives. Sleep is a complicated process. The cause and effect is not always direct and clear, so what seems helpful at first glance (for example drinking alcohol or smoking before bed), may actually be masking the issue (such as stress and anxiety).

Find out what works for YOU

So part of the trick to getting a good sleep is getting to know yourself first including what’s most likely to help and hinder your own situation. The research base is a great place to start experimenting to see what conditions work best to give you a refreshing night’s sleep.

Plan of Action

Here are my top ten tips to improve your chances of a fabulous sleep:

1. Feelings of safety

If you don’t feel safe, have a chat with someone you trust, or your doctor or a counsellor to develop a plan to feel safer.

2. Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs … and food

Substances such as caffeine (think coffee, chocolate and energy drinks), alcohol, tobacco and other drugs may bring a temporary feeling of relaxation, but they can also disrupt hormone production, sleeping rhythms and other health issues. Likewise, your eating habits may have an impact on your sleep. Avoid spicy foods if this causes discomfort and avoid large meals and drinks at bedtime. There is some evidence that certain foods might help you sleep better – wholegrains; some nuts, fruits and dairy foods; and caffeine-free tea.

3. Pain levels

Chat with your doctor or health practitioner if pain is preventing a good night’s sleep. Pain is a complex phenomenon with a wide range of causes. There are many different pain management techniques to choose from – find out what works best for your overall health and wellbeing.

4. Medication

Some medications can make you feel drowsy, and others can make you feel more alert. Check in with your doctor or pharmacist for advice on anything to do with medication.

5. Exercise and napping

Benefits of exerciseIn my professional (and personal) experience, one of the most effective ways to improve sleep is to increase your exercise, especially in the morning. Moving around throughout the day and reducing how long you are sedentary for is also helpful. Some people find it helpful to have a short nap during the day, but later in the afternoon may disrupt your night time sleep.

6. Light and dark

Get yourself some morning light. This triggers the production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for your inner body clock – you’ll feel sleepy when it gets dark in the evening. Despite many people using TV and devices just before bed or even while they are in bed, the type of light they emit and the stimulation they provide can really impact your sleep. The recommendation is to turn devices off an hour or so before bed and don’t take them into your room.

7. Stress Management

Stress quote Dr Kerryn PhelpsManage your daytime stresses so that you’re not holding that tension when you go to bed. Learn body relaxation techniques as well as mind relaxation techniques. Mindfulness training is particularly useful. If you’re locked into a vicious cycle of insomnia, it can be helpful to have some cognitive behavioural therapy sessions to power up your thinking and make positive changes to your sleep.

8. Routine

Find an evening routine that’s helpful and then follow it. This might take some experimenting to see what soothes you and what stimulates you. Make your routine a habit, and remember that it can takes weeks of adjusting to a new habit or routine before you see the full results.

9. Environment

Are you comfortable in bed? Is it too hot or cold? Too soft or hard? Noisy? Smelly? Too light or too dark? Is it relaxing and comforting? Avoid doing work or studying in your bedroom as this can build an association with a wakeful or stressed state.

10. Caring Responsibilities

Are you responsible for the care or wellbeing of other people, livestock or pets through the night? If possible share your caring responsibilities with someone else so you can take turns at sleeping a bit longer, or a bit better.

Let's sum up!

So there you have it – my top ten tips to improve your sleep, and the best thing about it is you can start experimenting right away! If your sleep doesn’t improve after trying these strategies, make sure you have a chat with your doctor. There are some medical and psychological conditions that may need more specialised interventions to get you the super sleep you deserve!

*”Report to the Sleep Health Foundation 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults” Robert Adams, Sarah Appleton, Anne Taylor, Doug McEvoy, and Nick Antic (The University of Adelaide, The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health) Read the report 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

THRIVE for Women Online Group

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” — Maya AngelouDaisy Spoke Banner

I’m so incredibly excited to announce that registrations are now open for my online group program THRIVE for Women! Dozens of women have participated in the face-to-face version of this group over the last 6 years and now at last I’m able to offer it online so you can participate in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere else)!

THRIVE for WomenWho is it for?

Women often have many roles to fill at work, home and in the community. Self-care often comes last on our list of things to do. Yet there are many actions we can incorporate into our day to strengthen us, help us to be more efficient and effective, enable us to think more clearly and make better choices. When we routinely use these actions, we begin to THRIVE – not just survive!

Are YOU ready to take action? To be consistent with the habits that help you to feel strong and capable? To function at your highest level? To get on top of your stresses? To achieve your goals? To develop mind and body strength? To think like a winner? If so, THRIVE for Women is for you!

What topics are covered?

After many years of working with people one-on-one, I’ve created this group program addressing the issues women often share:

  • How can I sleep better?
  • How can I maintain a routine of exercise and nutrition that I love, and that is good for my mental health?
  • How can I choose and stick to goals?
  • How can I get unstuck when things don’t go to plan?
  • How can I juggle the priorities in my life?
  • How can I best manage the stresses in my life?

THRIVE for WomenHow does THRIVE for Women work?

THRIVE for Women includes a weekly group video call on different wellness / mental health topics, handouts on everything we cover in the calls (plus more!), a private discussion page, and a BONUS one-on-one session for participants at the end of the program!

** The live group video calls will be held weekly for 6 weeks commencing Monday 23rd July 2018 from 7:30pm to 8:30pm (AEST). You’ll need a device with a web cam or inbuilt camera connected to a reliable Internet connection (eg tablet, IPAD, computer). We’ll be using a safe video conference platform called Zoom for the video meetings – it’s easy to use and all instructions will be given to you before THRIVE starts!

Why join an online group?

I’ve run face-to-face women’s groups for many years now, and they’ve been so successful that it’s time to take them online! This way you can join in from the comfort of your own home. No more child care issues. No more transport or parking hassles. No more juggling work responsibilities to get to the group.

What are the benefits for me?

There are so many benefits when you join THRIVE for Women:

  • discover the latest PROVEN strategies for MIND and BODY health
  • CONNECT with other women and learn from each other in a CONFIDENTIAL and FRIENDLY atmosphere
  • grow RESILIENCE, INNER STRENGTH, SELF-COMPASSION and WELLNESS
  • develop a range of SKILLS for living a life that THRIVES
  • explore a different topic each week through LIVE ONLINE VIDEO meetings (a recording will be available if you are not able to make it to a live session)
  • PROBLEM-SOLVE the real issues that get in the way of self-care routines
  • access INFORMATION SHEETS, CHECKLISTS and a PRIVATE DISCUSSION GROUP
  • OVER 6 HOURS of access and support in a group that would cost you hundreds of dollars one-on-one
  • guidance by an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker using EVIDENCE-BASED approaches
  • participate in a BONUS one-on-one session to really make the biggest difference in your life!

THRIVE for WomenHow much does THRIVE for Women cost?

To celebrate the launch of THRIVE for Women online, you can currently register at the SUPER-SPECIAL PRICE of $175 with the added BONUS of a one-on-one session at no extra cost. (The total value of this program is over $1000, so it really is amazing value for everyone who registers for this first launch! That’s over 7 hours of contact with an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker guiding you towards a life that THRIVES, plus all the written material and resources for future reference, plus the connections made with the other group members!)

How do I register?

Registrations are easy! Simply click here to go to the booking site where you can make a secure payment online and provide your contact details. Once registered, you’ll receive an email from me with more details about how we will connect together.

What women are saying about Kathryn’s face-to-face groups

100% of past participants have strongly agreed that the group assisted them to develop new knowledge and / or skills in managing their mental health.

The best part of the group was “…..meeting new ladies and realising I wasn’t alone in my feelings or shortcomings, but then learning there are ways I can improve my life.”

“To feel comfortable with the group in a non judgemental way. Learning new ways to think and put into practice stress management. And let go of things out of my control.”

“Realising there are other ways of thinking. There are some things you just can’t control…..no matter how much you worry about them.”


THRIVE for WomenI have some questions ……..

 

If you have any questions, simply send me a message or give me a call on 0455 992 419. As always, I’d love to hear from you!

Breaking and creating habits

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Have you ever tried to break a habit or create a new one? That’s probably all of us! There are some habits that are clearly unhelpful, and these are the ones we most often focus on – the ‘doing’ habits like smoking, sedentary behaviour, eating junk food, and going to bed late. But what about those less obvious ‘thinking’ habits. The ones that have us locked into a bad mood, overreacting, overthinking, leaving things to the last minute, being defensive, using avoidance tactics, personalising, blaming and so on. The way we habitually think forms part of everything we do and we’re often not conscious of it. But when we want to create long-lasting change, it’s vital to look at changing the way we think, and not only focus on the way we are ‘doing’ things.

Here are four tips to help you break an old habit and create a new one by focusing on new actions, and new ways of thinking.

1. You are never too old to change

No matter your age, you an always make a change. Don’t accept excuses such as “I’m too old”. Your mind’s attitude to learning plays a large part in how capable you are of breaking and creating habits. With an open attitude and willingness to try, learning a new trick is always possible. For example, even though I’d been riding bicycles since I was a young child, it wasn’t till I was in my middle age that I decided to have a go at mountain biking. What I discovered is that you need a whole new set of skills to ride mountain bikes compared to The Brain that Changes Itselfriding on paved surfaces. Not only did my body have to work differently, but my mind as well. Mountain biking has been one of the biggest learning curves in my life. I’ve been confronted with physical and mental and emotional challenges that would have been so easy to walk away from. But I kept going and little by little my skills have progressed and I’ve learned to handle some pretty big fears along the way. I’m living proof that it’s definitely possible for an oldie to learn new tricks. For some remarkable examples of how the brain can change and adapt to new challenges, have a read of Norman Doidge’s book “The Brain That Changes Itself”.

2. Change can take its time – often a long time!

In a world that encourages immediate gratification and demands fast results, focusing on change habits takes timelonger term goals can be seen as rebellious. Quick-fix solutions are promoted all around us – get a toned body in only 10 minutes a day, lose your baby weight in 30 days, go from a $0 to 7 figure business in less than 12 months. But the reality is that sustainable, healthy change usually takes place over a longer period of time. Quit expecting immediate results when you take up a new habit or give up an old one. Real change takes time! Research shows that when we take up a new habit we need to practise it regularly for at least three weeks, and in many cases we need to allow two to three months or more to feel the benefits, or at least to feel at ease with our new way of doing things.

3. Patience, practice and persistence – not perfectionism!

If you’re anything like me, you just want to be able to do everything perfectly straight away. And if that doesn’t happen it’s so easy to give up. We can make all the excuses under the sun about why we’re not having success, but the reality is often that if we’re patient,Patiently persist to change habits practise a lot, persist with the discomfort, and let go of our need for perfectionism, we’re much more likely to have success. Personally I’ve find it very helpful to listen to what my inner voice is telling me when I get the urge to throw in the towel. That leads me to question why giving up is so important at that moment, and what would be the value of persisting. Then I look at what skills and strategies I need to use to achieve success. Read about how I used practice and persistence to rediscover my joys of mountain biking in one of my  past blogs.  Patience, practice and persistence are definite winners!

4. Focus on what you DO want, not what you don’t want

Focus on what you DO want to change habitsOne of the trickiest things about reducing or quitting a habit (like cigarettes, chocolate, or social media) is that we focus our minds on what we’re missing out on. To demonstrate the power of this focusing technique I tell my clientsFor the next 2 minutes you are NOT to think about the green dragon behind you.” I set the timer and give them occasional reminders to NOT think about the green dragon. The same thing happens when we keep telling ourselves “Don’t think about cigarettes / chocolate / Facebook …..” It’s really, really hard to achieve success unless we focus on what we DO want – the NEW habit or behaviour that we want to develop. You could try saying Time for a walk round the block … time for my fresh fruit and yoghurt … let’s give Mum a call …” Focusing on what you don’t want is counterproductive. Focusing on what you DO want is a winning style of thinking. You can read more about looking where you want to go in my very first blog from 2 years ago.

 

There are many more tips and tricks for helping you to break a habit or create a new one, but these four strategies will get you started with a powerful attitude that will guide the behaviour choices you make, and increase your chances of success!

Let's sum up habit

1. You are never too old to change
2. Change can take its time – often a long time!
3. Patience, practice and persistence – not perfectionism!
4. Focus on what you DO want, not what you don’t want

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full. 

Thinking About Thinking: joining the dots between senses and thoughts

We all think in different ways. Each of us has a unique mind with different ideas, beliefs and opinions ….. and the way we PERCEIVE our own thoughts is fairly unique too. Many of us connect the PERCEPTION of our thoughts with our senses.

Thinking about YOUR thinking ….. how do YOU think?

Pictures, images, visual symbols – Do your thoughts seem to be constructed of things you can see in the external world around you? When you think about a situation, do you have a mental image of what that looks like? Faces? Places? Objects? Do you see a ‘mental’ or internal movie playing scenarios from the past or future?

Voices, sounds, words – Do you hear your thoughts, almost as if there’s another person in your mind, or perhaps your own voice chattering away. Maybe you hear several voices chattering or arguing, a voice from your childhood of yourself or someone else, or maybe unfamiliar voices. These voices speak out the thoughts that go through your mind.

Feelings, sensations, movements of the body – Do you ‘feel’ your thoughts inside your head or your body? When you think about situations or recall events, do you feel the movements or sensations associated with them?

Smell and taste – The sense of smell is often deeply connected with memories. Certain smells can trigger memories, experiences and flashbacks without warning, whether pleasant or unpleasant. The sense of taste can be similar. We use phrases such as “That left a bad taste in my mouth” and “I smell something fishy here”, all of which suggest the use of these senses in the way we perceive our thoughts.

A lot of us will find that our thinking relies on all the senses at different times or in different ways, although one sense may be more dominant than the others. For example, you might notice that your thoughts often present as images – as if you can see them and almost reach out and touch them. But this might be combined with movement and sound, as if you are watching a movie playing out in your mind.

So my question for you is …..

Thinking about YOUR thinking ….. how do YOU think?

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

Thinking About Thinking: the barbed nature of thoughts

Thinking about thinking is pretty hard work. It’s a fairly abstract concept so I find it helpful to use imagery and metaphors to grasp some of the concepts that are so important to a healthy mind and body.

Thoughts are a little bit like a fish hook with barbs on it. We can very easily get hooked by our thoughts, reeled in and immersed in an ever-expanding fantasy that leaves us feeling upset, excited, worried, distressed or something else. The hooking nature of thought is very powerful.

When our mind throws out a line with a barbed hook at the end, that’s our thought, we often don’t even realise that we’ve grabbed hold of it. We can become firmly attached to it and we can have difficulty letting it go. We can find ourselves stuck, squirming and wriggling with the discomfort just as a fish does as it’s reeled in from the water.

But how do we stop ourselves getting hooked in the first place? And if we do get hooked, how can we free ourselves from those thoughts that leave us feeling really uncomfortable? How do we know which thoughts to let go of, and which ones to hold onto?

Daily practice of simply noticing your thoughts as they arise during an activity helps to train your brain to notice thoughts arising at other times, and to notice that they are simply thoughts or mental events. If you find the fish hook imagery useful, you can notice the hooks (or thoughts) being cast out, and you can notice which hooks (or thoughts) you cling on to.

When you notice that you’ve been hooked into a story of your mind that’s unhelpful and is keeping you stuck and struggling, picture yourself carefully prising the thought or the hook away. As you gently and carefully extract yourself from the barbs, perceiving the thought as a small but powerful hook that is separate to you, you’ll be able to lovingly let go of it, thank it for its care and concern in your life, and set yourself free.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

Women Empowered: Life Without Limits

“Life Without Limits” is the first Women Empowered retreat for 2017 being held in Warwick on the Southern Darling Downs on Saturday 25th February.

This tranquil day of RETREAT will have Kathryn Walton guiding a small group of women through reflections, discussions and creative activities as we explore the perceptions and experiences of  barriers, obstacles, restrictions and limitations in our lives. Identifying and acknowledging these issues is a step towards EMPOWERING ourselves to step into the LIFE we want to live, the ATTITUDE we want to be living with, and the very real POSSIBILITIES this opens up for us. We want to do more than survive – WE WANT TO THRIVE!

By taking time for your own self-care, you will be modelling effective life strategies to your family, colleagues and the wider community of women AND men AND children. Remember, you can claim a 10% DISCOUNT when you register with a friend!

Refreshments, a delicious morning tea, and workshop materials will be supplied for participants. In order to keep costs as low as possible, please BYO lunch. Refrigeration is available, as well as crockery and cutlery.

So ….. are you ready to LIVE a LIFE without limits? Information and registration is available on the link below, or email me for more information 🙂

https://www.trybooking.com/ONZJ

kwalton@condamineassist.com.au