Every fall for the past three years I’ve taught a small seminar course, Issues and Debates in Life Development, a course that could otherwise be titled, the Best of Psychology and Sociology 101, to first-semester freshmen at the University of Texas. The first half of the course covers psychological concepts such as attachment theory and relationships, while the second half covers forms of social oppression such as racism, classism, ableism, sexism, and heterosexism.
Last week’s post discussed the ways in which poor sleep hygiene can negatively impact your life and 20 common “sleep stealers” that contribute to sleep problems. This week I’d like to focus on several strategies (and their rationale) for improving your sleep.
In the same way that I encouraged you to slowly eliminate sleep stealers, I encourage you to incorporate just a few of these “sleep strengtheners” over a period of several weeks. Old habits die hard, and new habits die easy, so be patient and gentle with yourself.
It’s Sunday afternoon and all of a sudden it hits you: the Sunday Blues. If you’re like me, the Sunday Blues will lead to a bout of what I like to call “loud brain”—words anxiety and insomnia extending into the wee hours of Monday morning. Teaching after a night like this can be a disaster! In fact, teaching after any night of poor sleep can be miserable. I recall taking more than a handful of naps on the filthy rug of my classroom library.
As of this writing, I have joyfully given and gratefully received, slept more than my fair share, and eaten home-cooked food in quantities I’d rather not disclose. While it’s been days since we rang in 2016, I have continued to eat in a way I aim to reserve only for actual holidays. For example, it’s only noon, and I have already eaten 1-2 pounds of leftover mashed potatoes, 6-7 gummy frogs, 1 plate of fish and chips, and approximately ¼ cup of grape Nerds.
Confession: I do not tend to be terribly inspired by quotes. Perhaps I saw “Live, Laugh, Love” posted one too many times in a place where I didn’t particularly feel like loving or laughing. But despite being neither a seeker nor a collector of quotes, every once in a Pin-spiration, I’ll read something that stops me in my tracks and shines some new and necessary light when I find myself fumbling around in the dark.
Welcome to the season of joy! The holidays can actually be pretty stressful, uniquely so for teachers. “Stress,” as a term, originates from the engineering field, defined as the amount of pressure that can be placed on a structure before it collapses. Here are five strategies for preventing your own holiday collapse.
1. Source of holiday stress: Personal expectations and keeping up traditions.
When I was in my first year of graduate school and struggling with chronic stress and depressed mood, my therapist at the time suggested that I get more exercise. I remember feeling the resistance to her recommendation in the pit of my stomach. I was the slightly overweight kid with asthma who placed first in the art show and last in the mile run, so I didn’t have a long record of positive associations with physical fitness.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my geriatric car recently broke down. Like most of you, I am chronically strapped for time (not to mention cash), so this event was unwelcome to say the least. What’s more, I’d had this car for over 15 years, and the thought of parting with it, embarrassingly enough, actually had me in tears. About an hour after I hung up with the mechanic, I was walking out to the parking lot when a thought hit me like a ton of bricks: Whoa. I am so glad Clementine hasn’t been hit by a car.