It’s 10:35PM and you’ve just climbed into bed. You promised yourself this morning that you would go to bed at an earlier time tonight due to the sluggish feeling that you had while trying to get your day started. Your morning routine consisted of you waking up at 6:30AM, getting yourself ready for work, your three children ready for school, and carpooling while trying to make it to the office by 8:15AM. After a grueling day of work filled with people who assumed that you had the magic answers to everything, you spend the remainder of your evening cooking dinner, helping the children with homework, listening to your husband complain about the lack of intimacy in the relationship (as if you have enough time and energy for sex), and giving the kids a bath. Before you realize it, it’s 9:45PM and the dishes have yet to be done. You tell yourself that it’s a crime to go to bed with a nasty kitchen, thus you find yourself washing dishes, scrubbing down the stove and countertops, and sweeping. You contemplate the importance of taking a shower before forcing yourself to take a 5-minute shower. FINALLY, you crawl into bed with the anticipation of falling into a deep slumber after the excruciating day that you’ve had. You say your prayers, close your eyes, and wait for the sandman to appear.
“Oh sleep, where art thou?!”
You glance at the clock and it’s now 11:01PM. You calculate the remaining hours that you have until your alarm clock goes off at 6:30AM on the dot. As you close your eyes, you start to think about the things that you must do at work tomorrow. You must get to work 30 minutes early to finish a report that you didn’t complete today due to your many interruptions. You began to think that you have to get the children up earlier so that you can get to work early, which means they will have to have an earlier bedtime moving forward. You began to question your parenting skills and worry that you are not a good parent. You worry about their future outcome if you do not get to spend enough quality time with them. You also start to worry about what your husband said earlier about not being sexually satisfied. You conclude that your marriage will be over in 3.5 years, and you start to plan out your life as a single mother.
“Oh sleep, where art thou?!”
It’s now 12:23AM and the sandman seems to have no plans of visiting you tonight. Your chest feels tight, and your breathing is shallow as you start to experience symptoms of anxiety that is bought on by your ruminating thoughts. You know from your last therapy session that your thoughts influence your emotions; the more you think uncomfortable thoughts, the more uncomfortable emotions you’re going to feel. You remember the coping skills called, Take the Elevator Down, that your therapist taught you to help you calm down whenever you start to feel overwhelmed. Your therapist explained that connecting with your five senses will help you calm down, so you do the following:
You wake up to the sound of a rooster crowing. It’s 6:30AM. The sandman found you!!!!! You can’t wait to tell your therapist that you remembered to do your homework assignment and it worked. You recall your therapist telling you that the purpose of this assignment was to help you move outside of your head, where you tend to get stuck in your worries and fears, and into the here-and-now present moment. Focusing on your five senses helped you not be future focused and worry about things that you could not control in that moment. You plan to take it easy at work today, and you plan to go to bed early!