I woke up and immediately became aware that I couldn’t feel my left leg. At all. Whatever wacky sleeping position I’d gnarled myself into while rolling around in a burrito blanket on the living floor had cut off circulation to my leg.
Has anyone ever accused you of malingering — that is, faking sick? It’s all too common for those of us with illnesses that can’t easily be detected by the untrained everyman.
It’s the Contrast Principle in effect: during the day, there are so many sounds in nature that we’re unlikely to hear a tiny mouse scurrying near our feet. But at night, with its absence of light, dull orchestra of crickets, and an imagination open wide, tiny sounds get amplified by our minds.
As we learned in my last blog post, in a tent full of scared eleven-year-old Girl Scouts at summer camp, a field mouse scurrying through the leaves = a big hungry bear searching for a late-night snack. At the right (or, well, wrong) thoughts and a tiny mouse becomes a big bear.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be dark outside for our mind to amplify the wrong message. When anxious, small things sound like big things. When sick, small things sound like big things. When depressed. When overwhelmed. When tired.
I mean, think about it: when’s the last time something small — say, washing a load of dishes — seemed like a gargantuan task? Maybe it was yesterday when your nerves were already abuzz thanks to your colicky little one screaming her head off.
I Googled “most relaxing song ever”. And what did I expect to find? Well, a bunch of songs esteemed Most Relaxing by the court of popular opinion. But instead, I found…science. Maybe.
I have this wonderful soon-to-be-husband with whom I’d like to sync sleep cycles with. Last night, he went to bed at 9 pm so he could wake up at 6 am for work. Five hours later, after organizing my counter, putting away dishes, and listening to a few podcasts, I finally settled down to sleep at about 2 am.
Our fast-paced daytime lifestyle often bleeds over into the evening hours without our consent or mindful attention. Once you become aware of how you stimulate your body and mind before bed, you can take conscious steps to reduce that behavior.
So, guess what I did at 4:21 a.m.? I turned on the lights, picked up a pen, and started an alphabetical list of Things That Make Me Anxious.