Stop Worrying, Start Sleeping

It’s a common pastime amongst home sellers – lying awake at night worrying… wondering… To make it worse, problems often seem more ferocious at night than they do during the day, which can set your heart racing and feet pacing.

So here’s how to disrupt nighttime worry patterns so your sleep is more restorative:

(And yes, I know it sounds rather innocent that I don’t include chemical sleep-inducers in the list below, but it’s good to have options… especially if it’s 4 a.m. and you need to get up at 6 a.m.)

The first step is to catch yourself in the act of worrying and step back. The minute you realize that your mind is grinding away, say to yourself, “Aha! You’re worrying! Stop!” Once you’ve caught yourself, you have a choice of things you can do. If you feel like moving around, you can take a bathroom break, get a glass of water or take a walk around the bed.

Next, substitute your negative thoughts for something more calming, pleasurable or even boring. One accountant I know visualizes a spreadsheet in front of her. She reviews the long columns of numbers until she successfully bores herself to sleep.

On nights where I catch myself worrying, I like to play the “A to Z” game, where I pick a topic, such as foods or places or first names, and then I think of things alphabetically that go along with that topic. By the time I reach “L” or “M,” I’m usually lulled back to sleep.

Another effective game is to visualize colors one at a time, bringing each fully into your mind, then imagining various things in that color. For example, visualize green, then imagine a host of green things, such as bushes, grapes, broccoli, frogs…

Or, you can use this technique: lie back, breathe deeply and think about how lucky you are to be in a warm, comfortable bed with a fluffy pillow, smooth sheets and soft blankets all around you — knowing there isn’t a thing you have to do for hours, except to relax, stretch out and enjoy your bed.

The opposite of this technique, which works for some, is to think of all the activities you do during the day, rushing and driving around, making phone calls, texting, sending emails, talking, working, cleaning, cooking… just the idea of all this activity makes some people tired enough to nod off.

If none of these techniques work for you and your worry wheels are still spinning, get up and write out a laundry list of what’s bugging you. Along side each one, list a few possible solutions, no matter how crazy they may sound. At least you’re being proactive — and the same creative mechanism that makes worries seem bigger and badder at night may also help you come up with some highly creative solutions.

Finally, the easiest, but often most difficult technique of all is to catch yourself worrying and just accept the fact that you are worried and not sleeping. That doesn’t mean you have to like it, it just means that you stop trying to fight it. Say to yourself, “Okay, I’m worried, I can’t sleep, and that’s okay… it’s just the way it is right now.”

Just the fact of accepting your current situation can relax you enough so that you drift off to sleep. As the saying goes, “What you resist persists.” So stop fighting your sleeplessness and sleep may creep up on you.

For more ways to beat the Home Seller’s Blues and make life easier while you wait, check out the Home Seller’s Blues eBook. Now available on Amazon’s Kindle or at the Apple iBook store.

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