Are you taking care of yourself? Get a little help with the School Counselor Voice, a monthly newsletter for school counselor self-care. Here is a section from the October edition, find more information in the Newsletter page. You can access an editable Google doc version when you subscribe to the newsletter. 

The following article appeared in the December edition of the School Counselor Voice.   

Get a Sleep Makeover

When was the last time you woke up and felt rested? Did you know lack of sleep has been shown to be equivalent to being legally intoxicated? Why do we insist on losing sleep and pushing ourselves to work well past exhaustion? The reality is we need sleep.

This month I challenge you to take a long honest look at your sleep habits.

Turn off electronics & keep them out of your bedroom. Stop fooling yourself that looking at your phone relaxes you. It doesn’t. It’s a distraction that prevents you from actual relaxation. Charge your phone in the kitchen and use a real alarm clock if you need one.

Reduce or eliminate caffeine after noon or late in the day. I love coffee but realized it kept me awake if I drank it after lunch. If you need caffeine all day long, it might be a red flag that you need better sleep.

Darken your room. Light is the signal to our brain to wake up. Invest in room-darkening shades. Cover or eliminate any extra lights (even the little indicator lights from a powerstrip). Dim lights in the evening leading up to your bedtime.

Create a sleep routine. Develop an evening routine to prepare yourself for sleep. Put on pajamas, brush your teeth, etc. at a consistent time. Make your bed.

Exercise. Lack of sleep can create a catch-22: you feel too tired to exercise so you don’t exercise, which leads to a constant state of feeling tired. Start small and take a simple walk. My sleep improves enormously when I have a healthy exercise routine.

Track your sleep. Keep a journal for a week or two. Track the amount of sleep you get each night and how rested you feel. Notice any patterns (foods you eat, things that occupy your mind, noises or light).

Meditate and/or journal. Persistent thoughts can keep you awake. Meditation helps me process thoughts and let them go. Journaling can be as effective too.

Would you like a monthly dose of self-care? Subscribe to the School Counselor Voice.

Resources: healthysleep.med.harvard.edu; sleepeducation.org; ariannahuffington.com

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