A weird term, sleep hygiene.

I've only heard it called this in the past few months, but basically sleep hygiene means doing what you need to do throughout the day to make it possible for you to sleep well at night.  

They are basic things and I think that a lot of times we think that basic things won't help, but we are fighting for joy with everything we have and anything we can do, no matter how small, we're going to do right?  

Here are a few tips:

Turn off screens an hour or so before bed.   Yes, you can have your phone by the bed if you must use it for an alarm clock, but don't be "on" it.  

Avoid napping.

Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.

Exercise but earlier in the day.

Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.  Reading a book is a good one.  

I have found a trick that works for me sometimes is to tense and then relax my muscles, from my neck down to my toes, each one in turn.  

Prevention Magazine recommends a breathing pattern that might help.  Here it is. 

I personally find that if I can't go to sleep after a while, it's best to get up out of bed and try reading again for a little while and then try again.  

Just one thing.

The motto of alcoholics anonymous is "one day at a time" and that is a great way, also, of dealing with feelings of sadness.  Sometimes we just need to do one thing.   That is a way to take the first step on the way to feeling better most of the time.  So today, choose one of these things and do it, or do them all.

Make your bed.  This has surprising mental health benefits.  It's kind of amazing really.

Help someone else.  One very simple way to start is to visit The Animal Rescue Site and click to give food to shelter animals.  Don't stick around and read any stories about animals that have been mistreated, but you can watch the Cute Dispute as much as you want.

Do a random act of kindness.  My favorite and a very inexpensive one is to put quarters on top of or in the gumball machines at the grocery store.  :-)

Call a friend (actually talk, not text.)

Do one of these today.   I only included 4 today because I don't want you to get overwhelmed.  Just do one. The smallest thing can make a huge difference in your attitude and your feelings.

First Things First

If you are feeling down, see a doctor.  If medicine is not working, check out this excellent article  about things to consider when your depression is not getting better, despite treatment and this article about things this writer does every day to fight her own depression, including prayer, meditation, laughing and practicing gratitude.  She's got more but I won't spoil it .... go read it!  I personally use laughter, art journaling, bible study and prayer, and want to, over the course of the next year, add in exercise and make some changes in my home that will help keep me on a more even keel like getting rid of clutter.  As we go on this blog, we will discuss all of these methods and use everything we can find to focus on the good.
Starting the journey ...

Grasping for Joy?

What does that mean?   Well, to grasp is defined as to hold firmly or get hold of mentally, comprehend, understand, to seize upon and hold and joy is the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something good or satisfying, a state of happiness.  

My whole life, I feel like, the joy has been somewhat elusive, but I think, through all the stress and heartache that I have been through the last couple of years, I've gotten better at appreciating the good times and maybe, finally, experiencing some of the joy.