I have been tossing this idea around for a spell. What are the common demons we all fight from time to time? We have covered a couple of them already; dealing with the unruly golfer, and the burn out syndrome, but I want to get more specific and clarify things a bit. The demons Ill be speaking of are the ones that bind us together, and tear us apart.
I am in the throes of battling one as we speak. It is a subtle bugger that can sneak up on you over time. It adds up slowly, kind of like weight gain or greying hair. Its remedy is often shunned in our society, considered a sign of weakness or something that those who do not work hard enough engage in. The demon I am speaking of is lack of sleep.
This secret agent can be a superintendent's worst enemy. It colours your whole life and can leave you struggling in so many ways. Lack of sleep affects you physically, mentally and emotionally, covering the whole spectrum of well being. Ironically it is usually something that shows up within these parameters, and not lack of sleep itself, that forces us to seek help.
Here are some of the signs that you are in the grips of this cagey demon:
- You feel like crap, physically. Our bodies are really good at telling us that something is amiss; we just have to listen. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue are but a few of the symptoms that we are lacking precious sleep. Chronic lack of sleep can also lead to many other physical ailments.
- You are having trouble focusing. We thrive on focus and organization at work. Our very jobs demand that we are on top of things. Do you find yourself missing simple things?
- All the stuff that we need to do in our lives to keep our lives balanced: eating well, exercising, meditating, having fun; all tend to be tougher to keep up with when we are overtired. (I have a particularly hard time with remembering to eat well).
- Stress multiplies exponentially. Because our coping mechanisms are lower, we tend to stress out easier. Being overtired affects our perspective and we tend to view things in a more negative way.
- Emotionally you may be more fragile/ volatile than usual. Lack of patience, quick to anger, harder on yourself than you should be, these are all signs that chronic lack of sleep is becoming an issue. These are tough ones to deal with. They play with us psychologically and can undermine our confidence and leave us questioning ourselves.
The upside to dealing with this demon is that the fix is a relatively simple one. Not yet at the burnout stage, we can nip things in the bud before it becomes a really big problem.
The first step is to admit that there is a problem. When you are dealing with the aforementioned concerns it can be really tough to figure out the real issue. My wife and I often remind our kids when they are stomping around the house like Godzilla, when you are tired it is best just to acknowledge that you are tired rather than frustrate yourself and others by still carrying on as if it is business as usual. Its time to step back and just be tired, nothing more, nothing less. So give yourself permission to cut through the crap and just be tired.
The next step would be to evaluate the reasons that you are not getting enough sleep. Are you worried about something at the course, dealing with issues at home, or is it combination of things? Shedding light on the real issue can be a good step in changing things around.
Personally I have a problem saying 'no' to people. I can spread myself too thin with things like volunteering or working too much and it can leave me sleep deprived. By realizing this I can step back and scale down my involvement in certain activities until the balance in the force is returned.
The final step is to simply take action. Work at dealing with the issues that are hampering your efforts to get rest. Once you have a handle on it, then all you have to do is close your eyes. By putting your intention on reclaiming your right to rest you create the space you need to make rest happen. You may have to play catch up for a spell, but once you are back on track you can be mindful about the quantity and quality of your sleep.
It can be helpful to think of yourself as a rechargeable battery. You use stored energy throughout the day and sleep is our way of plugging ourselves in. It recharges our bodies in vital ways that are only now being studied and validated. When we use a certain percentage of our energy during the day and don't fully replace it with sleep, then a deficit is created. Occasionally thats not such a big deal, but if it continues then our batteries don't work as well as they should and eventually they can fail.
So take a nap, a siesta, or a good long Rip Van Winkle type snooze. Your body and all those around you will thank you for it. It's really just that simple.....zzzzzzz.....zzzzzzzz......