When you travel to a faraway land, staring at the ceiling can become your favorite pastime. Maybe not your favorite, but you can get pretty good at it.
It’s not nearly as fun as counting sheep. Which, have you actually tried counting sheep?
So you have the excitement of being on vacation and in a new place, then you add your body’s inability to sleep and you have the perfect recipe for a big, beautiful ball of anxiety:
Cook for 12-15 minutes on high until the edges are brown and crispy
Recently, on my trip to Paris, this was me every single night for a week. I would do the math in my head to see how many hours of sleep I would have if I fell back to sleep right that second. All it did was make me a nervous wreck.
On my last night there, a light went off. My brain isn’t in control of me; I’m in control of my brain.
Deep, huh? It’s not nearly as deep as it sounds. In fact, it makes perfect sense.
How many times have you thought, “If I could just turn off my brain?” I would venture to say that most anxiety comes from the inability to turn off the very thing the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz desperately wanted.
I would not be just a nuffin’, my head all full of stuffin’
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry, life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain
I’m not sure I wanna know what a ding-a-derry is, but the Scarecrow certainly thought it was pretty great.
So how do you turn off your brain? I’ve tried a little bit of everything. I’ve tried breathing techniques, meditation, reading, prescription meds, over-the-counter meds, punching the mattress in anger… you name it.
But there was one thing that finally worked: not trying to fall asleep.
That’s ridiculous, Brandon.
I agree, but it worked. Once I told myself, hey, you don’t have to fall asleep. You’ll be fine. Just let your body rest, think good thoughts, and don’t worry about the rest. Your body is pretty smart if you’ll just let it do its job. And your brain? Remember you’re in control. Not that annoying thing we call a brain.
Oh, and this:
Lie there with a smile on your face.
A friend of mine spent the night with me years ago and when I woke up in the middle of night, there he was, sleeping soundly with a smile on his face. I don’t think this was intentional, but it stuck with me. Every night I’ve tried it, I’ve fallen asleep faster and I’ve had amazing dreams. Oooooh!
Maybe it’s just the little trick your body needs.
I’d love to know if this works for you. If so, or if you have any other tricks on how to combat jet lag and anxiety, let me know in the comments.