I don’t know what you’re feeling right this moment, but I’m writing this during a very stressful time where there is a lot of division and anger in our community and our world. And I’m definitely feeling those emotions. All of them.

And I’ve been losing sleep this last little while.

My sleep is very sensitive to stress. If stress levels are through the roof for me, I know my sleep is going to be the first thing that suffers. You might be similar?

So, what do we do about that? Here are my top 3 tips:

1. Don’t ignore your emotions.

You might feel angry, sad, frustrated, annoyed, or anything else during a period of conflict or anxiety. But the one emotion that we tend to ignore in a situation like this is fear. Fear drives a lot of our anger, our sadness, our frustration. And I think it’s worth reflecting on/being aware of if there is fear in your underlying emotion.
People are afraid of a lot of things for a lot of reasons. But I’ve come to realize that a BIG reason for fear is a fear of change. People don’t like change. It scares them. And that can be small change (like needing to have a hard conversation with a friend) or big change (like big shifts in societal beliefs).

Whatever the emotion is for you, I want you to recognize it. And I want you to feel it
. This fear/anger/sadness/whatever will not last forever, even though it feels like it might. But a sure way to have it keep interrupting your sleep and your health is to avoid it. To shut it down. To make it seem like it’s not real. You need to experience these emotions to successfully come out the other side.

2. In times of high stress, we often feel like we aren’t in control of anything.

And that’s not entirely true, even though it may feel that way, and, let’s be honest, you aren’t in control of a lot of the big things. But you do have control over:

There are actually all sorts of things we can control, and it’s important to find those things.

3. Stick with the basics.

Eat good food and avoid stress eating. Even if your sleep is interrupted, keep your routine and your sleep hygiene the same. Get light in your eyes in the morning. Do things that bring you joy! Maybe adding a few extra of those in. Spending quality time with people you love

Stress is a major disruptor of sleep

Something I’ve been struggling with is the need to stay informed, but to also maintain my own mental health. Social media has built a 24-hour frantic news cycle, where you can literally spend all day waiting for changes, developments, news, etc. And turning off that news completely might not have the effect you want it to, because that can cut us off from what is going on in the world, and what other people are experiencing. And I do think that staying aware of other people’s experiences is REALLY important, to develop empathy and perspective.

BUT – there is a fine line between staying updated, and your own mental health. And you really need awareness to be able to draw that line for yourself.

Stressful community/national/worldwide situations are not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, I predict that people and groups are going to experience more conflict, not less. And how we deal with this conflict as a group, as a community, as a nation, and as a world is going to evolve, but how you participate in that conflict (future or current) is something you can start controlling now.

So, focus on controlling the things in your life that you can control. Focus on taking care of your self and the people you love and your family and friends. Focus on surrounding yourself with joy and experiences that make you happy. And FEEL and experience those emotions. Don’t let the fear turn into anger. Instead embrace the fear and see it through. Because I promise you will come out the other side.

Elizabeth Brothers Health