Are you losing sleep because your anxiety won’t stop? Do you worry about lots of different things? Here is my favourite technique on how to beat insomnia and control anxiety.
I had a terrible night’s sleep the other night. I could not turn off my brain. I was worried about this – then that – oh, yes – and that too. It was as though my brain was working against me, not allowing me even to fret about the big worry – but actively searching out minor anxieties and then global, existential worries.
It tormented me with the How and When Am I Going to Fix the Dripping Tap in the Kitchen, Why have I Volunteered to do something I don’t Want to do? and of course – Brexit. Will it never end? And then there is …and so on.
The train of Thought
I had to have a serious talk to myself if I was to get any chance of sleep. So I implemented my favourite strategy: The Train of Thought.
I stole this idea from my favourite Pixar film, Inside Out. It’s a beautifully crafted film about mental health, accessible to kids and adults alike. In it there is the idea of a Train of Thought that pulls in to the station.
I use it with my clients who are worrying about too many things…
Imagine you are standing on the platform of a train station. It can be a romanticised Victorian station, the Harry Potter train, a super slick, bullet train in a futuristic station. Yes, TGV Station in Avignon, France, (designed by Philippe Stark).
So you are standing on the platform and the train pulls in. It will be with you for a few minutes. The train comprises of many carriages going way down the line – and each carriage contains one thing you are worried about. For example…
Carriage one is about What happened at work today
Carriage two is What is going on with Lisa (or whoever)?
Carriage three is What am I doing with my life?
Carriage 4 is Money worries
Carriage 5 is …you get the idea
How to beat insomnia…climb aboard!
You stand on the platform and look at the carriages and you decide which one to climb into. You decide.
“Tonight, I am going to get on board carriage… “Of course you may choose NOT to get into any of the carriages and that’s alright. The train will be departing in two minutes, whether you are on board or not. No pressure.
So choose your carriage and mingle in the feelings of that one single issue.
Recently I added a special carriage – right at the very end of the train. In this carriage is everything you love. For me there is a wood burning stove, comfy sofa made of dark blue velvet, lots of cushions ever and lots of soft blankets. There is a table with my favourite food and drink, a basket with a small dog sleeping in it, beautiful pictures on the walls. And some nights I decide to get into THAT carriage! I am not going into a worry carriage at all. I want a night off. That’s my choice.
Your last carriage will be different of course. Just picture it now…
This technique has helped lots of my clients beat insomnia. It’s simple, perhaps childish, but it really works.
So tonight, stand on the platform, watch the train pull in. Choose a carriage – or don’t. And use free will to climb aboard. It won’t be long before your brain releases the anxiety and chaos and you drift into sleep.