What is it with 4am? Even though I teach this coping, mindfulness, living with intention and self compassion stuff, I still find that there are times when I am awake at 3 or 4am with swirling thoughts keeping me awake and unable to stop the thoughts that serve NO ONE. 

When it happened recently I found myself awake for at least 2 hours randomly choosing tools to get back to sleep. How silly is that to rely on our barely there brain to help us cope, when we could ‘cope ahead’ to use a DBT skill and make a plan! Well, it’s time. No more being caught off guard without a clear plan so I don’t have to count on my sleepy head to remember. 

Who is with me on intentionally creating a plan for our TOP 3 Calming Tools for the Middle of the Night? 

Here are my TOP 3 that I’ll be putting in my ‘back pocket’ to use next time: 

1. Kindness and Compassion Intention for loved ones I’m worrying about: Here is a sample: (we can adapt to follow up with specifics for our person or ourselves)

  • May you be safe. 
  • May you be healthy.
  • May you be peaceful. 
  • May you be kind to yourself. 

2. BREATHING – yeah I know it seems so simple and overused but my fav is 4, 7, 8 and it usually does help me get back to sleep and at the very least, I’m calming myself in the process. LOL

3. Last, but not least…if those two fail me, I’m choosing to review pleasant experiences that I remember. Have any of you seen the independent film, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly?” It’s about a man who has a stroke and develops, “Locked in Syndrome” and cannot move anything except one eye. His brain remained completely intact otherwise. ALL he could do with the endless hours of days and nights was to CHOOSE to remember all of the wonderful experiences of his life. He relieved hiking with his family, holding his child’s hand, rocking babies, laughing with friends, touching his wife, eating wonderful foods, seeing beautiful places. This kept him sane and gave him some pleasure in a horrifying situation. It reminds me that if he could do THAT, I can certainly lay in my comfy bed and recall wonderful times like watching a movie. 

What will your Top 3 Calming Tools be for the Middle of the Night? 

Last week I wrote about “radical acceptance” for coping with the caregiving challenges that families face daily. Feel free to re-read other posts on my blog for ideas if you need them.

You can also stay connected with others who get this struggle on my weekly group support calls. Starting Wednesday October 12th, my Online Group Support calls will be at 9am PST for 3 months while I work from Europe. But first, I’m taking 2 weeks off to celebrate my 40th (yes, I’ve been married longer than some of you have been alive…) wedding anniversary in Croatia. So Intern Anna will be answering your questions on the call this week. Thank you Anna!  

If a parent you know is looking to create a 4am coping plan, feel free to have them click this link for a free consultation. I’d like to introduce my newest Referral Partner, Ann Elizabeth (AE) Rueppel who is now taking clients and is being supervised by me. Meet AE here:AE Rueppel is a Boston-based mother of 3 who awoke eight years ago to find that one of her daughters had been “stolen in the middle of the night” by the insidious and debilitating disease of anorexia nervosa. A positive experience with Family Based Treatment allowed the healthy return and full recovery of her daughter, providing proof that recovery is possible. 

Guided by her deep compassion for parents, caregivers and families going through the experience of caring for loved ones with an ED, AE has spent the last seven years building eating disorders knowledge and connections within the community, and recently completed her Masters in Health Education and Promotion with a concentration in Eating Disorders.

Using her lived experience and a deep belief that parents and caregivers are valued treatment team members and experts on their own loved ones, AE’s work now focuses on being a resource and advocate for parents and caregivers navigating the ED road to recovery. You can read more about her on her website www.aerueppel.com and request a free consultation HERE.