I was teaching a health education seminar earlier this week (I still do work as a health educator for a local insurance company- I love talking to groups!) and I was listening to women chat about their lives as they stood around and waited for me to start.
And I realized how very full our grown-woman-brains are.
There’s about 10,000 things going on in there at any given time.
And specific content may switch in and out, but…there’s always 10,000 things in there.
I immediately felt both tired and impressed.
Damn– look at us go!
Carrying around these 10,000 things is tough, though.
It creates body stress and mind stress.
It even creates spiritual stress, I believe.
We are a unique cohort of women, us mid-lifers- amazingly capable, some resources available, and getting shit done like amazing. But we’re also pretty tired come the end of the day.
The one impact I hear about most with the 10,000 Things is related to sleep.
Can’t get to bed.
Can’t get to sleep when I do get to bed.
Don’t sleep well.
Wake up and can’t get back to sleep.
Some of this may be hormonally related. Plenty of hormones, especially stress-related ones, influence sleep (directly or indirectly). But stress is usually the biggest culprit in these situations.
So, let’s look at some practical options for dealing with the 10,000 Things.
A good stretch before bed can do some amazing things. We know from research that stretching the muscles in the body tends to induce feelings of greater calm and relaxation. When we stretch the body, we also stretch the mind. It kinda lets the kinks out, you know?
As you stretch, just imagine your muscles stretching out, and any tension or contraction dropping away. I often imagine my tired energy and daily ‘ugh’ dripping off my belly in cow pose.
This is one of my favorite herbs for relaxing and releasing. Chamomile is a gentle relaxant that can help induce sleep. If you’re an “I’m sleepy until my head hits the pillow” person, chamomile can be a great help.
I think the act of making the tea, a couple hours before bed, is also relaxing. Enjoy the sensual experience of getting the cup, ripping the tea bag open, feeling the hot steam rise up, and sipping the first drink.
Make a Holder.
When the list in my head gets to be too big,
or when I am tired in body, but buzzed in mind,
or when I can’t stop the thinking
I make a holder for my brain.
My brain, your brain, it really wants to help. It wants to solve shit. And it would work day and night to do it. Only…that doesn’t actually help sometimes.
So, I make a little holder for my brain, tell it everything is in there, ready for me tomorrow, and please to settle down so we can get some sleep and renewal. I also sometimes remind my brain that dreams are helpful, and it will have to put down the data-brain to get to the dream-brain.
(Talking to yourself is an essential skill of mid-life, yo.)
So- grab a piece of paper.
Write down the contents of your brain.
Tell your brain it’s all good.
Sometimes I need to make buckets – like this.
Sometimes each bucket has it’s own page! But these categories help me begin to connect my emotions to my responsibilities (the 10,000 Things) and see what’s really going on.
::: ::: ::: :::
There is a passage in the Tao Te Ching that reads:
Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind rest at peace.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
This is easier said than done in modern life. But it can still be done. We can create distance from the 10,000 Things with our body, mind, and spirit; we can lay down the 10,000 Things sometimes.
With practice, it gets easier.
It is worth the effort of practice.