NIGHTTIME SLEEP GAME PLAN

Meditate

Meditate as soon as you rise, before you start engaging with your day.

Eat Dinner Before 7PM

Keep it light to avoid uncomfortable fullness at bedtime.

Take an After Dinner Stroll

A relaxing walk after dinner helps with digestion before bedtime

Run a Warm Bath

Try aromatic essential oils or candles. You may want to rub oil on the bottoms of your feet and massage them to relax and ground you.

Decompress

Minimize stressful activities after the sun goes down, and put away all electronic devices at least an hour before bed.

Release the Day

Review the events of your day in a journal or in your mind just before bed. Observe each encounter without judgment, and then release it from your mind.

Lights Out Between 9:30 – 10:30 PM

If this is early for you, move your bedtime up by a half-hour each week.

Trouble Falling Asleep?

Try a sleep meditation or full-body relaxation exercise to help you drift off.

DAYTIME SLEEP GAME PLAN

Wake with the Sun

Our bodies are naturally energetic at sunrise.

Meditate

Meditate as soon as you rise, before you start engaging with your day.

Eat Breakfast

Keep it light and healthy.

Breathe

When you feel stressed throughout the day, try a simple, deep breathing exer- cise. Breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds, hold, and release through your mouth while counting to 5.

Move Mindfully

Consciously move your body for 15 minutes each day.

Make Lunch Your Biggest Meal

Around noon, your digestion is at its peak. Fuel up at lunch, and have a lighter dinner.

Get Outside

Sunlight helps keep you in sync with nature’s rhythms, making it easier to fall asleep at night. Get at least 20 minutes of sunlight each day

SLEEP ASSESSMENT

Restful sleep is the foundation for physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Deep, nourishing sleep is the natural result of making choices that cultivate physical and emotional balance throughout the day. But for many of us, life gets in the way of a good night’s sleep.

This assessment will help you identify which areas of your lifestyle may be contributing to your disrupted sleep, and how best to remedy them.

Take The Sleep Assessment

EMOTIONAL DIFFUSION TECHNIQUES

Overview: Emotional Diffusion Techniques

We sometimes need to diffuse highly charged emotions to enable us to take back control of how we are feeling. Anger is one of the emotions which can really get the better of us and can result in a host of negative outcomes. Highly charged emotions also stop us from being able to perform at our best because they restrict our ability to focus on what will work for us.

The Why

When we engage with thought diffusion, we step back and observe our feelings so that we can get a hold on them in the way we want to. When you are experiencing negative emotions, your brain is more likely to focus on negative thoughts and you will get caught up in a negative cycle. Before you are able to manage your emotions in the moment, you need to start paying attention to your ‘red flags’ – the things that indicate your emotions are starting to flare up. This means you can respond to them before they escalate and take over. Name them and identify them so that you can be aware of them when they emerge.

Great for…

De-stress, Mood

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Exercise

Stop

In a high emotionally charged moment, stop and take time out. If you can, remove yourself physically from the situation, even if it is just for one minute. If you can’t physically remove yourself, take ten deep breaths, making sure your out-breaths are longer than your in-breaths. This helps calm your body back down so that you are in a better position to respond in a more rational way.

Challenge

Observe what is going on so that you can use all the information you have about yourself and the situation. Try to stop filtering out positives and focusing on the negatives. Notice what is happening with your thoughts, emotions, behaviors and physical self and how you might be interpreting what is going on in the moment. Is there a different way to view what is going on that might be more helpful? Is there an alternative to being angry or aggressive?

Change

In the space you have created by taking time out, you can now choose how you are going to respond. Instead of being angry or negative, you can opt for a more constructive or assertive approach. This your opportunity to so more than simply react to someone or something.

MENTAL IMAGERY AND VISUALIZATION

Overview: Mental Imagery and Visualization

Mental imagery and visualization can help us reach the desired state simply by creating and focusing on relevant pictures or ‘movies’ in our minds. Depending on the imagery we choose, this tool can help us feel more positive, calm, and relaxed, confident, happy, and so on. And being calm and relaxed or confident improves our performance because it takes us out of threat mode. This enables us to think more clearly and stay focused on the task at hand.

The Why

We now know that mentally visualizing a situation or event can stimulate the same areas of our brain that would be affected if we were experiencing it for real. Evidence also shows that if we can visualize something going the way we want it to go – instead of worrying that it won’t go well – there is a greater chance it will go the right way for us. Athletes often use this approach when they have a big game. Jonny Wilkinson would visualize the kick going through the post over and over again before he actually kicked the ball. Michael Phelps the Olympic swimmer, would imagine that he had webbed hands and feet to improve his performance in the water.

Great for…

De-stress, Mood

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Exercise

Stop

Take a step back and think whether you already use positive imagery or visualization to impact your mood and emotions or forthcoming situations. Or do you actually tend to imagine things not going how you want them?

Challenge

Could different imagery have a more positive impact on the way that you approach your moods and emotions or forthcoming situations? What sort of images or visuals would be more useful or could leave you feeling more positive?

Change

Try some of the exercises below to change your mood and emotions or feelings towards something that is approaching.

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EXERCISES:

HOW TO USE Visualization:

There are different ways you can apply visualization and mental imagery, depending on what you want to achieve. Below is a how-to guide to visualization, with examples of common and useful scenarios to visualize.

One of the most important things to remember is always to visualize in the first person. Imagine every detail as though you are looking at it through your own eyes, living the moment you are visualizing in the here and now. The more you can connect with how that experience feels, the more powerful and effective the visualization is.

GENERAL STEPS TO Visualization:

  1. Find the right place to do it. Of course you can visualize anywhere, as all you need is your mind, but it’s worth finding somewhere quiet if you are starting out.
  2. Some people find it easier to close their eyes when they do this, although it is fine to keep your eyes open if you prefer
  3. Choose what you want to focus on and visualize – it could be a technique, a skill, a place, a feeling, an outcome.
  4. Use your imagination to bring it to life as though you are living the imagery in the here and now. Think about all your senses and how they would be responding in that visualization.
  • How do things smell?
  • What sounds can you hear?
  • What can you touch and feel and what are the textures?
  • What can you see?
  • Are there people with you?
  • What are your emotions and how does your body feel?

5. Think of a word that best describes your visualization, in terms of how it feels, or what you want to achieve or the overall experience. Now repeat that word three times as you take 3 deep breaths.
6. That word will help you connect to that visualization in the future if you want to engage with it again.

POSSIBLE Visualization SCENARIOS:
BUILDING A CONFIDENT SELF:

  • Use the general steps above as a framework to work from
  • Overlay this by identifying a time you were feeling really confident and think about what is was like, how you felt emotionally, how it felt in your body, what were you thinking about yourself and the situation around you
  • Now think about that specific situation where you want to feel more confident Imagine yourself there, looking through your own eyes but with the confident feelings and thoughts you know you are capable of, based on the connection you have just made with a previous time you felt confident
  • Imagine yourself being confident and achieving what you want to achieve, by bringing the situation to life, what can you see, hear, touch, feel while holding on to those confident feelings throughout your mind and body
  • See it as though it is a movie playing out from the start of the situation to the end
  • Visualize this as often as you can.

COMPLETING A TASK:

  • Use the general steps to visualization as a framework to work from.
  • Overlay these steps by thinking about and feeling what it is like to finish a task in the way you want to complete it
  • Start at the beginning, thinking about anything you need to plan
  • Think about the confidence you need to feel in yourself or in your body in order to complete it
  • Consider how it feels in your body when you complete the task.
  • See yourself experiencing a sense of accomplishment
  • Connect with how good it feels to complete it so well
  • Visualize the task such as this before you do it as often as you can

RELAXATION:

  • Use the general steps to visualization as a framework to work from
  • Identify and picture a place, scene or image that feels relaxing for you
  • Now engage in all your senses, what you can see, hear, feel (emotionally and physically), smell, and touch.
  • Immerse yourself in the place you are in ( in the first person, remember)
  • Use these mental scenes for relaxation whenever you need them

SOOTHING AND CALM:

Using compassionate imagery activates our soothing system (see the Emotional Regulation model) which allows us to stay calm and focused and enables us to perform better. It helps to slow yourself down and get yourself in a calm physical state to attend to what you need to attend to. The goal is to find an image which helps unlock compassionate feelings inside you. You can then use that image when you need to create a sense of calm and focus. This imagery will be specific to you.

DISTRACTION TECHNIQUES

Overview: Distraction Techniques

Distractions usually tend to be seen as negative. But distraction techniques can be really positive too, especially when our mind gets caught up in a negative spiral or when we feel the urge to engage with unhealthy behaviors. Distracting ourselves by doing something positive enables us to get back on track or re-engage with more healthy behavior. It helps us get ourselves out of the loop in the moment. Sometimes it helps to chat things through with someone else as these distraction techniques only provide temporary relief from our busy minds, but they will help us get ourselves out of the loop in the moment.

The Why

Distraction is a self-soothing technique and can contribute towards changing your mood by taking your mind away from something that is making you feel negative. It works because it forces you out of your head and away from an unhealthy behavior. Positive thoughts in turn fuel positive performance.

Great for…

De-stress, Mood

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Exercise

Stop

Stop thinking that all distraction is a bad thing and consider it as something you can do to improve mood or healthy behaviors

Challenge

Consider if you could stop doing something that you know isn’t good for you and instead do or think something that will leave you feeling better.

Change

Think about some things that you find distracting yet enjoyable which you can do for 10 or 15 minutes. Jot them down in a list so that you can check in with them when you need to.

When you find you’re having some unhelpful or distracting thoughts that may not be helping your performance then try these short activities. They could include:

  • Taking a walk outside making sure you focus on your surroundings as opposed to what is going on in your head
  • Watching TV
  • Picking up a newspaper, book or magazine – something you enjoy thinking about
  • Listening to music – it’s always good to create an upbeat playlist for times where you need some distraction
  • Picking up the phone to speak to a friend or family member
  • Grab some food or a non-alcoholic drink
  • Do something creative like pick up an instrument if you play or doodle or draw
  • Pick up a pack of cards and play something
  • Do a puzzle or brain teaser

STRENGTHENING OUR SOCIAL SUPPORT NETWORK

Overview: Strengthening our Social Support Network

Having a good network of support from friends and family affects both our mental fitness and our general wellbeing and physical health. So if we find that we’re not opening ourselves up to connecting with others or not making time to support people we know, it’s critical to make changes. You don’t need a huge network. Just a handful of friends and family, in and out of the workplace, is enough just as long as you engage with them regularly.

The Why

Poor social support networks have been shown to have an impact on our mood, especially if we are feeling lonely. A strong social support network means that you have more emotional, physical and logistical support available to you, both day-to-day and when life throws challenges at you. Relationships with others provide an opportunity to talk things through and even for mentoring which often reduces the stress and anxiety of problem solving. Social support can also improve the motivation and perseverance we need to reach our goals. It even affects our immune system which keeps us fit and healthy and capable of performing at our peak.

Great for…

De-stress, Drive, Confidence, Mood

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Exercise

Stop

Stop and think about how much time you are spending with friends and family.

Challenge

Does it feel like you spend enough of your time with others, so you can be supported by them and support them back? Are you realistically giving yourself the opportunities to build a supportive social network?

Maybe you choosing to avoid other people or you just feel you don’t have time in your life for them.

Change

Don’t wait for others to pick up the phone or to organize things. Be proactive and reach out to them.

  • Sometimes we need to use the amazing levels of technology we now have, from messaging to video calling. Don’t rely on technology, though, as face to face will always be the most beneficial way to engage with someone.
  • Don’t be shy to seek support from your peers. A problem shared is not always a problem halved but it still makes sense when you need to work things through.
  • Find like-minded people. Try expanding your network of social support by going to places or joining clubs where you know there’ll be people with similar interests.

EVERYDAY CREATIVITY

Overview: Everyday Creativity

Being creative is a powerful way to keep mentally fit.

And it doesn’t have to be anything complicated or time consuming like picking up a paintbrush or writing poetry (not that those aren’t great activities to try). Little things like doodling in a notebook or finding a new walk route to work are effective too. The trick is to find something that is personal to you – so take the time to explore different creative activities.

The Why

Psychologists now know that engaging in a creative activity just once a day can lead to a more positive state of mind. This is because it requires us to be open to new ways of looking at things, to be adaptable, flexible, and resourceful. Being creative also requires our attention and can relax and calm the mind, giving us a much-needed break from our busy lives and thoughts. Sometimes it can also help us express what we are trying to communicate or even help us identify a new skill.

Great for…

Mood

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Exercise

Stop

Take a look at your everyday life and ask yourself if and when you’re being creative. Make a note if you think you are – what are you doing?

Challenge

Don’t allow yourself to think you’re not creative. We all have a creative side even if it hasn’t been ignited yet. You need to be open to the possibilities of your inner innovator.

Change

Start to consider options to engage with your creative side. Look at what other people do or search the internet for different short activities that you can try.

Make a list of creative opportunities. Changing up your exercise regime, trying new recipes or food, getting all your photos printed into an album, creating a short video from all the video footage on your phone, finding a new walk route to go on, reading a new type of book, picking up an instrument – they are all options worth considering and you’ll think of many more.

Start with just 15 minutes a day – although if you want to do more, that’s great.

INCREASING POSITIVE ACTIVITIES

Overview: Increasing Positive Activities

We all have activities that we know make us feel good – emotionally and physically. But sometimes we just feel too busy, too focused on one aspect of everyday life or work to make time for them. This exercise is all about restoring the balance and consciously putting those positive activities back on the map.

The Why

This is a direct application of the principles of the cognitive behavioral model which underpins all the MindFit exercises. Engaging in positive behaviors – rather than negative or unhealthy behaviors – is more likely to result in positive thoughts. Positive thoughts then cause an increase in positive emotions which in turn fuels a more positive cycle of performance.

Great for…

De-stress, Mood

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Exercise

Stop

Take a pause and identify what activities make you feel happy – make a list of what these are

Challenge

Have you recently stopped engaging in some of these activities? If so, ask yourself “why?”

Change

Consciously plan positive activities into your diary. Identify ones that you could easily do every day like listening to music or going for a short walk or a run. Then think about the ones you might do weekly or monthly – the kind of activities which take more organizing or cost something such as going to the movies or having lunch with a friend.

GRATITUDE

Overview: Gratitude

We all automatically say thank you to others every day – from the person who serves you a coffee to loved ones or friends who have done something for you, big or small. What we now know is that gratitude or the act of being grateful can contribute positively not only to our wellbeing but also to our performance levels. This is a tool we often overlook, yet it’s so easy to access.

The Why

Gratitude contributes to our mental fitness because saying thank you generates more positive emotions and that makes us feel more optimistic and better about life. Research has also shown that, quite simply, gratitude makes us happier! It helps us sleep better and can increase our self-esteem.

Great for…

Mood

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Exercise

Stop

Have a think about how often you actively appreciate what is going on in your life or what someone else is doing.

Challenge

Could you practice more gratitude or is there something that blocks you?

Change

Try and incorporate more gratitude into your life with the following easy activities below:

Saying thank you out loud:

And don’t just say thank you. When it feels appropriate, tell someone why you are grateful and what they have done.

3 Things you are grateful for:

  • Take time to think about things you take for granted and consider being grateful for them.
  • Each day, just as you get out of bed, think about 3 things that you are grateful for. These don’t need to be big things. Maybe you caught up with your mates for a drink or someone helped you out.
  • We know that writing things down creates more impact than just thinking things in our head so invest in a notebook and write those 3 things down if you can.

Gratitude postcard/Letter:

Try thanking someone in writing for the positive role they have played in your life or for something simple they have done. This doesn’t have to be a long essay. Just one line of a thank-you can be so powerful both for you and the other person. It could be a note you leave out in the morning before you go to work or just a message, text or email. If you don’t have time to actually write anything – just thank them in your head.