Some advice from your crow-mama Mystic Witch. This was originally posted as a note on my Facebook page in July of 2018.
This has been coming up a lot, in different circles, from people of varying ages and backgrounds. I find myself repeating these words so often that I think perhaps I should fold my wings around you as well, and mama-crow you a bit.
I know you’re tired. You’re feeling worn and frayed around the edges. Some of you are having problems sleeping. Even your close relationships are showing some strain. I know. I see it. I hear you.
I work in the wellness field, so I have a unique perspective on lifestyle management. And for all my Pagan philosophy, I’m pretty pragmatic. I’m a former Marine, remember? I don’t do things that don’t work. It’s a waste of energy. So, listen….
I need you to start taking care of your Self again.
Let’s start with the simple stuff.
I need you to drink enough water, and I need you try to drink fewer stimulants.
There are good and simple reasons as to why. Throughout your day, as you consume food and beverages, and the quiet alchemy of raw material to life energy takes place, your body produces byproducts. These byproducts, the stuff that’s left over after energy has been created from calories, get released and sent to the incinerator. Thing is, that incinerator gets backed up if you don’t give it a good way to release all the gunk its pulled out of your blood stream. Water is the way we care for the incinerator and keep its wheels running. When you don’t consume enough water, those energy byproducts can end up lingering too long – in your blood, in your skin, in your enzymes, in your digestion. And that buildup can make you feel lousy. Drink some water. Clear out the gunk.
And the stimulants? Sorry. I know. I love them, too. If there were no consequences, I would happily drink coffee all day long. But the energy that comes from whatever it is you’re doing to help you stay awake has a price tag. They’re called stimulants for a reason, and they don’t just keep you from falling asleep in your lunch. They also stimulate anxiety. If you are feeling stressed, they will make that feeling worse. They will increase your agitation levels when someone does something annoying. They increase and enhance your reactions to things. This includes reactions of fear, anger or frustration. There’s already enough of that in our lives. Let’s reduce how much we contribute to it.
So, more water, fewer Red Bulls, neh?
Which brings us to the next one: I need you to sleep. True, deep, long-enough, restorative sleep.
The more we learn about sleep, the more incredible it is. While we are asleep, our body repairs, improves, files-away and otherwise cares for itself. Think of it as the time when the janitorial staff comes in. We don’t see them, but the reason the office looks so good in the morning is because they were there. And, when we get enough sleep, we don’t need all the stimulants. Lack of sleep turns ALL of us into cranky toddlers. When someone falls asleep in savasana, the meditation at the end of yoga class, I know for a fact that they aren’t getting enough sleep at home. If being horizontal for three minutes is enough for your body to desperately seize the chance to do some repairs, it’s time to do some reevaluating of your evening schedule.
There are some simple-yet-difficult things you can do to help your body sleep. One, allot enough time. Even though that means going to bed earlier. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep (yes, really) to function well. Start with trying to get 8. Allow yourself one extra hour – half an hour of last fiddling around/using the restroom/walking the dog and half an hour of getting settled in bed. Two, and this is the really hard one, put the screens down. Shut them off a minimum of an hour prior to heading to bed. Two hours is better. I know some of you are desperately worried about big things happening while you’re ‘unplugged.’ Thing is, if anything truly reality-altering occurred, your phone would immediately begin going off – people would call, text and otherwise contact you. Moreover, there’s probably not a damn thing any of us could do from our bedrooms late at night about a big national or international disaster. Put the internet down, walk away, and get some sleep. You will feel better for it, and better able to then handle the next day’s assault on the senses, if you do.
So, more water, fewer stimulants, enough sleep.
I’ll give you one last one. I need you to socialize in person.
This online world we share is not a substitute for in-person contact. It’s a *supplement to* in-person contact. Happiness, that elusive quality that so many of us are looking for, largely springs from meaningful connections we experience with other humans. These moments of immediacy and intimacy occur in person. If your contact with your community is primarily occurring through social media, it’s contributing to your feelings of malaise, and in some cases may cause you to assume things about your community that simply are not accurate. Regardless of the community you are a part of – spiritual, social, fandom, etc – the disconnection of words on a screen from the human who wrote them brings out the discordant qualities in people.
I’m big on dealing with realities as they stand. Yes, I wish people would be more civil over the internet. But you know what? They’re not. They haven’t been, and I don’t know that it will change. So rather than ram our heads against that wall, let’s walk around it.
Join a real-life community. Find a congregation whose positions you can live with and attend services (Pagans, hit up the Unitarian Universalists – they welcome our kind). Volunteer at the local animal shelter, food bank, or other charitable outlet. Join a book club, a sewing circle, a hiking group. Take up pottery and attend classes. Connect with others of like mind in person. No groups in your area that interest you? Start one. If underwater basket-weaving to Brahms is your thing, start that club. Try to experience in-person connection with someone you do not live or work with at least every other week.
Follow up with your friends. We always say we want to see more of each other. So do something about it – set up a dinner party or group outing. Make it easy for the frazzled humans around you: choose something inexpensive (a potluck or trip to a park) that allows folks to connect without stressing about it. Actually make time for that coffee date. Stay a little late after work to talk to that one coworker you really *do* have something in common with.
I know this was long. Thanks for sticking with me through it, and letting me brush you with my feathers.
Even if you won’t do this for you, please do it for me: Drink some water. Dial down the stimulants. Get enough sleep. Go out and see some friends, or make some new ones.
And remember that I love you. We’re all a little frayed. So be gentle – especially with yourself.