Q: Although I tend to sleep pretty well and wake up feeling refreshed, a musculoskeletal neck IT that is ongoing is typically back to square one in the morning. After I am up for a while and have done a couple of rounds it usually improves a bit, but it feels like Groundhog Day each morning, as if there is a reset to the baseline. I'd love to move past this pattern. Is this normal? Is there a way to retrain on it? Should I ignore it and assume it will subside eventually?
A: First, I would take a practical perspective and ensure you have a good pillow that is properly supporting your neck, and also be mindful of your posture when you are settling in to sleep & when you wake (ensuring your neck and head are in alignment with your body).
Then, I would add something right as you're drifting off to sleep to help elevate your mood (if you are not doing so already). Perhaps think about someone you love, what you are grateful for, the best part about today, what you are looking forward to tomorrow, etc. In the morning when you wake, stop yourself from checking it to see if it is there. The second you notice the issue, tell yourself "stop" or "cancel" and immediately redirect into something that elevates your mood. Essentially you want to ignore the symptoms and not entertain any Automatic Negative Thoughts or beliefs that may surface with it. Trust that it will subside eventually and in the meantime it is not worth entertaining. You may also want to consider mentally rehearsing waking up with comfort and ease. You can either do this in a future visualization or outside of practice rounds. If you are already doing all of these things, then great! Keep going with it. Eventually the old patterns will give way to the new ones.
Q: What is the expected amount of time to be able to focus entirely on rounds without LS distracting? I am still getting distracted during rounds with thoughts of things to do, wanting to get up, etc., after several years of practice. Is this normal or do I need to be doing something different to stop this? If so, what?
A: Getting really distracted and wanting to get up are signs of nervous system dysregulation (i.e. you're in a stress response). When you catch your mind wandering, gently & compassionately bring it back to what you were doing, without judgment or guilt. The more you do this, the stronger you reinforce the pathways to shift your focus of attention. Perhaps consider adding in small amounts of daily meditation, mindfulness or breathing practices (5 minutes at a time to start). Even though you may find them difficult at first, they will help strengthen your capacity to focus your attention. Do your best to invoke a state of calm wellbeing in your nervous system while you do the practice. As with any form of brain retraining, it is the frequent repetition along with catching and redirecting not only your thoughts but also your nervous system state that will enable you to make headway and change this pattern.
You may also want to have a look at the things in your life that are contributing to feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Perhaps make a list, and with each one see if there is an action you can take to help reduce it. If not, is there a way to change your perspective or relationship with the stressor so that it is not impacting you to the same degree? For things that you cannot change, that are out of your control, is there a way to make peace with them so that they no longer negatively impact your health and wellbeing? If it is a choice between holding onto anger and frustration with the way things are, or learning to let it go so that it no longer negatively impacts your health - what is more important to you? If you do find there are things to let go and you feel you need some support with that, consider reading Forgive for Good by Dr Fred Luskin to help build your skillset.
Until next time!
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Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. Her modalities include coaching, therapy, Reiki and the Safe & Sound Protocol. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com