Sunday, September 10, 2017

Slowing Down This Fall ~ Living Life From a Place of Rest

by Jen Perry, LPC

Summer had a spontaneity to it for me this year with lots of kids activities and spur-of-the-moment trips to the lake and beach. This fall, I find myself craving a bit more paced of a schedule and routine. The benefits of rituals and routines are many - including a gentle holding pattern that allows us to live our lives from a place of rest.

Can you imagine what living life from a place of rest might be like? Instead of letting the frantic and frenetic pace of modern life dictate our personal pace in the world ~ living life from a place of rest has three important components: 1) prioritizing the essential basic need of sleep; 2) daily scheduling periods of activity with periods of downtime; as well as 2) cultivating a sense of calm moment to moment. This article will focus on the first component: Sleep.

"Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” ~ Thomas Dekker

Living life from a place of rest means to emphasize that we rise each morning from rest and will return again in the evening to this restful state. It means to be intentional about our nighttime routines so that we can deepen the level of rest we can achieve. It is knowing how to skillfully meet occasional bouts of insomnia with confidence. Insomnia and sleep problems are often considered effects of stress, depression, and anxiety but new research shows that it can be a considerable contributor to these problems. Here is an article about just that: Being intentional about how we approach this important third of our lives can be preventative as well as help address many mental health challenges.

Sleep “is a pragmatic response to good health. If you have good sleep, it increases your concentration, attention, decision-making, creativity, social skills, health. If you get sleep, it reduces your mood changes, your stress, your levels of anger, your impulsivity, and your tendency to drink and take drugs.” ~ Russell Foster. His Ted Talk can be found here:

There must be some important reason that our bodies require so much rest. For a fascinating dip into the history of humans trying to figure out why and how we sleep here: I’m struck by the apparent import of sleep: if you live to be 100 you will have spent a cumulative 30 years asleep. I firmly believe in working with our bodies and natural rhythms for health and wellness and given the sheer percentage of time dedicated to sleep from an evolutionary standpoint I think it is worth considering how we approach it nightly.

And yet, many of us (myself included at times) deny or at a minimum rail against this very basic human need for rest. Many of us find we have an inner revolt of sorts towards bedtime, most of us carry an inner child who continues to throw a tantrum at bedtime. This is an invitation to re-parent ourselves and take our inner three year old to bed with intention.

A few suggestions to get a good night’s sleep:

Have a bedtime routine that puts you to sleep on purpose. This does not need to be complicated, just a few simple cues to your body that sleep is coming. Washing your face, brushing teeth, making a gratitude list, doing a guided meditation are all good ideas. Instead of crashing on the couch, send yourself off to bed with the intention for rest.

Lower the temperature in your room. Experts seem to suggest a temperature between 60-67 degrees for adults, 65-70 for kids.

Darken your room. Turn off all lights, electronics, get dark out curtains or a bed tent. (Find a bed tent here: Bed tents are great for kids!

Use a white noise maker such as this one at Amazon:

Shut down screens at least an hour before bed

Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep

Go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same time each day. Your body is amazing … if you ask it to stay up beyond bedtime you WILL get a second wind and be able to stay up, albeit at some cost to your health and well-being that accumulates over time. Read more at

What to do when you can’t sleep. If you have insomnia, the worst thing you can do is freak out. This will push sleep further away. Instead, emphasize to yourself that rest counts for something and sleep studies show that we often get more sleep than we think we do during sleepless nights. Breathing and intentionally relaxing your body, or practicing sleep yoga or yoga nidra can be very helpful. Here is an example of a yoga nidra: Counseling can help with insomnia and other self-care issues.

Jen Perry is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mindfulness Meditation Teacher, Peaceful Parenting Educator and Coach. Jen’s approach to her client’s mental health and wellbeing focuses on implementing mindful self-care and self-compassion practices. Jen helps people prioritize what is truly important to them and build a heartful life that they love. In addition to seeing clients individually, Jen works with families and runs a weekly Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Therapy Group. Jen can be reached at or 215-292-5056. Additional blog posts can be found at

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