Being tired or stressed both have an impact on the brain and can affect your condition.
You do not have to try and change everything at once, just one change can have a positive impact.
The plan that you make has to work for you and fit with your existing lifestyle. A lifestyle change should feel empowering and not a punishment, you still need to feel like you.
It may be that you do less of something rather than stopping altogether, or improve something gradually rather than a quick fix.
The first step when approaching any lifestyle factor that could be improved, is to look at the underlying reasons why they aren’t quite as good as they could be. Once you have identified this you can work out what to change.
Stressful situations happen in everyone’s daily life, trying to avoid ever being in a stressful situation is not possible.
However, you can change how you deal with them. The plans you make can change how stressful a situation is for you.
Planning can be key to reducing stress levels.
You can start to change how you deal with stressful situations by doing the following things:
• Write down the situations and interactions that cause you the most stress.
• Think about which part is potentially the cause of the most stress and how it makes you feel and your reaction.
• Try and analyse if it’s the situation that can be adapted or your attitude and approach. Is it that the situation can be made less stressful by taking your needs into account and adapting. Or is it that the situation can not be changed and therefore it is your approach that needs to adapt.
• Make a plan based on the outcome of your analysis to help you cope next time you’re in the same situation.
It may be useful to involve another person in the conversation, they can confirm if you are being fair and realistic. It is about having a coping strategy rather than avoiding all stressful situations.
You may want to use the planning document to track the changes you make and how effective they are, or you could use it to plan for a potentially stressful event or task.
If it is a change of approach that is needed, then you could try using WOOP.
The Mind Matters section of Confidence College could also help in understanding your thoughts.
Good sleep is important for everyone and is an aspect of life many people struggle with, so there are a lot of resources available.
Professor Colin Espie, Professor of Sleep Medicine at the University of Oxford and co-founder of Sleepio.com, has some good advice:
We can’t expect our sleep to make up for any kind of excess that we place upon our bodies or minds. Sure, sleep is restorative… but there are limits! We have to consider that our lifestyles may be more or less pro-sleep.
Luckily, there are practical steps you can take to make your day more sleep-friendly.
During the day:
• Do physical exercise. Research has shown that people who keep fit and active have a better quality of sleep.
• Eat a balanced diet. A varied diet and healthy weight will have a positive impact on your sleep.
• Restrict tobacco use and avoid alcohol. Cut down on smoking in the evening before you go to bed as the nicotine in cigarettes may make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. On the other hand, alcohol may help you fall asleep at the beginning of the night, but it may put you into a lighter sleep as the night continues so you wake up earlier and feeling un-refreshed.
Prepare your bedroom for sleep:
• Get the room temperature right. The ideal temperature is around 18°C. If you get too hot, you may get restless. Too cold and you may struggle to drop off or have bad dreams.
• Keep it dark. In the late evening, our brains begin preparing us for sleep by producing a hormone called ‘melatonin’. Light at night might inhibit the production of melatonin, making it more difficult to sleep and stay asleep.
• Keep electronic gadgets out of the bedroom. Stop using them at least an hour before you go to bed.
Prepare yourself for sleep:
• Have a wind-down routine. Start relaxing and preparing for sleep at least 60-90 minutes before bed. Plan your routine – but don’t be too rigid or inflexible… it’s a time to relax! Stop any work or intense activity, don’t have any intense conversations and spend some time doing other things before getting into the immediate pre-bed activities of brushing your teeth, putting your pyjamas on, setting your alarm clock, etc.
• Put the day to bed before you put yourself to bed. Think about the day, plan tomorrow and set your mind at rest. If you’re fretting about how much you have to do, write down a realistic To Do list before you go to bed to help you let go of worrying when you’re in bed.
• Go to bed only when you feel sleepy. The number of hours sleep you need is as individual as your shoe size. Don’t assume you need the often-quoted 7-8 hours – in fact, a shorter sleep may mean a better quality sleep.
There are many websites and apps that may help you implement a better sleeping regime. Sleepio is an app which you might want to try to help improve your sleep.
For more sleep tips, you could try Sleep.org
If you’ve chosen a lifestyle factor that you want to impact, then use the planning document to work out how you can make that change.