3 thoughts to inspire you to move forward into 2020!
“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” adapted from Steve Jobs
As many of you know, a lot of what I teach around sleep and health is influenced by Chinese medicine. I sincerely believe that our health is intimately connected with nature and the elements.
We should always be mindful of how each of the 5 seasons impacts how we feel and behave. Over the years, I’ve learned that many people don’t realize how the vibrancy of Spring and warmth of Summer bring about renewal and vigour. Or, how Autumn encourages us to be flexible and adaptable as the dark Winter months approach.
It is during the Winter that fear, the emotion associated with the season, creeps in and tries to bring us down. During Winter, it’s not uncommon to feel cold both internally and externally.
Depression and anxiety come alive when the world around us is decaying. Many of us bear the burden of our mortality more in Winter, which is why we long for Spring with such anticipation.
However, there is another side to the fear of Winter as fear gives rise to courage.
“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential.” Maya Angelou
Courage is the strength to face one’s fears. It involves a choice to confront that which may cause us pain or discomfort. Courage is the ability to go toe-to-toe with life’s biggest challenges, no matter how much they intimidate us.
Courage is particularly important in Winter. After the excitement of the holiday’s winds down, we become more aware of the unrelenting cold and darkness all around us. We no longer have family gatherings and expensive shopping excursions to distract us.
We’re supposed to feel the joy that comes with the start of a new year. Yet, all we see is the long road ahead until Spring.
Fortunately, we have the power to increase our capacity for courage and keep fear at bay!
“Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” Maya Angelou
Research shows that better sleep is correlated with less fear. During high-quality episodes of sleep, there is less activity in our brains in the regions involved with fear learning. In fact, studies indicate that the quality of one’s sleep may be a valuable predictor of susceptibility to PTSD.
Sleep can also help us process fearful memories to reduce our negative reactions and associations to those experiences over time. Sleep diminishes the emotional intensity associated with harmful and impactful memories, which is excellent for those of us who carry deep emotional wounds.
Given these realities, I wanted to pose three thought-provoking questions to you:
- Do you consider yourself to be courageous?
For many people, the first step to courage is believing that one is capable of exhibiting courageous behaviour.
A lot of the time, we let our worst moments and experiences define who we are. We think we have no power to combat fear because fear has won so many times in our lives.
This Winter season, I want to encourage all of you to really internalize the belief that you are brave and courageous. Courage is not just for the heroes on TV or those who go to war.
Every single person has the capacity for courage.
The first step to understanding this reality is to believe it.
“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.” Victor Hugo
2. Are there specific experiences in your life holding you back?
It’s not uncommon for people to bury their deepest emotional scars and keep harmful memories below the surface. It can be painful to relive certain scenes or moments that have had profound and negative impacts on our lives.
I want to remind you that sleep can help in this area. Certainly, counselling and other forms of therapy are extremely valuable when you need outside help. However, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t practice healthy sleep habits.
You need to allow your unconscious mind to process what’s happening inside of you. When you combine good sleep with other forms of support, you give yourself the best chance to deal with fearful thoughts and emerge courageous the next morning.
“Honesty and integrity are absolutely essential for success in life – all areas of life.”
3. Are you honest with those around you?
Courage does not mean that you keep all of your fears bottled up and address your problems in isolation. Sometimes, the most courageous thing you can do is to seek help and open up with those around you.
Being honest can be scary, especially when you don’t want to burden other people. But we all need help in this life. And it’s no less courageous to ask for a hand when you need it than it is to stare down another type of fear.
The people who truly care for you will never hold it against you for seeking help. Be courageous and accept the unconditional love of those around you.
I love that the word courage comes from the French. Courage means “heart” (as the seat of emotions), hence spirit, temperament, innermost feelings. It also means “valour”, which enables one to meet danger and trouble without fear.
We know sleep is crucial for our health. Ask for help. Be courageous! I’m here for you anytime!