Have you ever felt a tightness in your stomach when worried? Ever have that at night? For me, it’s like you’re lying in bed and someone has their hand on your belly and is squeezing.
You tell yourself that you accept everything with equanimity. Just let go and sleep. Yet, your stomach is not having any of that. It wants you to do something, now! Yet, it’s time to just be and sleep.
When one is concerned about an upcoming event, the tightness in the stomach is natural. There’s uncertainty and your stomach is sending a message saying get ready. When the message happens at night, one wishes they could kill the messenger ..or at least make it quiet.
Focusing on Something Else
Gently laying your focus on something else other than the event, may be just the thing to do. Focusing on how the sheets feel or gently rubbing your belly may do wonders. Since others have told me that reading a book, going for a walk, or doing something self-nurturing before trying to sleep is helpful, I shall experiment with that as well.
For me one night at 2:30 am, the answer was to get out of bed and start my morning routine. Crazy, right?
Part of my morning routine is to slowly jog and meditate. My friend, Dr. Wayne Buckhanan, playfully calls it jogitating. Once I was done jogitating, I was more in tune with my body. I felt more relaxed. I went back to bed and could sleep for a few more hours.
Write It Down
Another technique is to write down the item on my mind, leave it on the table by my bed, and promise that I will deal with it once I am up. That’s a promise to the stomach that I won’t forget. It’s similar to reassuring a friend that you care and that you will follow-up on the item as soon as the time is right.
Know Your Sensations
One technique I learned from a wonderful coach named Rae in the 10% Happier app was a technique similar to what I had learned before for handling pain. The goal is to really get to know the raw sensations in the tense and non-tense parts.
The technique starts by gradually feeling out where the boundaries of the tightness exist. Feel the calm outside of the tightness. Really zone in on the calm and then gradually shift your focus towards the boundary of the tightness. Does the tightness change its shape? What does the raw data of sensation feel like? Is it feeling different over time?
I can move in and truly get to know the raw sensations without adding a story or narrative to it. Just observe the raw data and see if there are any changes. If a thought pops up, I can note it and go back to exploring the sensations.
Next, I can pull back and observe the whole body, both the areas of tension and calm. Observing the specific areas and then pulling back and observing it all. Ideally, I would even do this exercise during the day before I need to go to sleep.
A Little More Exercise
Since I also jog as part of my morning routing, I also make sure that I job an extra 1000 steps. Fitbit helps me track that. Those extra steps make a world of difference.
The tightness in the stomach is like a little worried kid asking for some extra reassurance and attention. Reassuring, distracting, exploring, and extra exercise are all great ways for giving that kid a hug and saying that you’re here for them. What works for you? Feel free to tweet to me at @FinneyCanHelp on Twitter and let me know!