[Vanessa Keranovic, Mindfulness Coach]
Welcome to day four of the course "Mindfulness for Better Sleep". Today, we're going to dive deep into evening reflections, where we're going to learn how we can use reflections or reflect on the day behind us to promote relaxation and better sleep. This is yet another powerful way you can shift yourself from a state of doing into a state of being, from a state where you are still worrying, analyzing, ruminating over something from that day into a state where you're letting go of the day behind you, being fully present in the moment you are currently in, relaxing and getting ready to sleep. If you remember, in day two, we talked about various mindfulness practices, like meditation and breath work, that you can use to help shift yourself from a state of doing into a state of being, where you're relaxed and present. But when we feel especially activated that day, sometimes along with breath work and meditation, we can use journaling to further help us transition into a present state. Journaling is a powerful tool that can help you transform your anxious and worrisome thoughts onto a piece of paper, allowing you to distance yourself emotionally and to see things clearer from a wider perspective. Using journaling to reflect on your day allows you to see your experience in another light, to see all the good things that happened but also to learn from whatever happened that day, the experience being good or bad, or whatever you labeled it to be. Because seeing the less than ideal experiences and situations that occurred as an opportunity to grow and learn is really how we shift our perspective, find closure, and allow the day behind us to fade away. At the end of this course, you will find a whole set of journal prompts especially designed for doing evening reflections. Here I will only like to mention two of them as the most important ones for me. The first one is writing your highlights of the day. This allows you to shift your perspective and see the good things that occurred that day. Sometimes when we are stuck in doing mode, we tend to see only the bad things that happened that day. So this type of journaling really helps us shift our perspective to see the good things as well. Another journal prompt I love to do as a part of my evening reflection is writing today's lesson, finding an experience that happened that day that was less than ideal and seeing it in a different light, seeing it from a perspective, "What can I learn from this experience? What does this experience offer to me as a lesson?" The idea behind this type of journaling is not to beat yourself up about the bad things that occurred or the less than ideal situations that happened but simply to see those experience as a learning opportunity, and that's all. This really helps you shift your perspective from being judgemental about something bad that happened into being grateful for the learning experience that it offered you. Another type of journaling that I like to use is writing out my worries. This is especially useful when those worries are keeping me awake. I like to devote the next 10, 20, or even 30 minutes just to write out all the worries that have been going through my mind. I even set a timer and just allow myself to write whatever it is that is weighing on me. If you're going to try this type of journaling, I recommend two things here. First, set a timer and devote that next 20 minutes or 10 minutes or half an hour of how much you've decided to devote, and simply write out whatever it is that's worrying you. Once the timer is finished, allow the worries to remain on the paper. If you still feel like you have to process through things, schedule a time for tomorrow or the next day when you're going to come back to that problem, allowing it to remain on the paper or on the schedule. And the second thing is, as you're writing your worries, see if you can challenge them. See if you can question their probability. See them from another perspective, from a perspective of a loved one. See if the worries that you're having are really under your control or completely out of your control. All of this will support you in widening your perspective or even shifting it and changing it. Another type of journaling that is very similar to this one is stream of consciousness journaling. Just like writing out your worries, stream of consciousness journaling is all about writing out whatever it is that's on your mind. Simply devoting the next 10, 20, or 30 minutes to write out whatever it is that's currently happening in your mind. Sometimes this helps you discover subconscious patterns and habitual behavior. You're allowing your thoughts to pour out of you as they are onto the piece of paper. You're simply observing the process as it happens. You're even enjoying yourself as you're witnessing all these thoughts that are coming onto the paper and forming themselves in front of you. Stream of consciousness journaling can be such a great outlet for you. It can help you become aware of, materialize, and organize your thoughts. Sometimes our doing mind is in the past, and it's going over the past experiencing, rerunning the arguments we've had, and so on. And sometimes our doing mind is in the future, trying to plan everything out, trying to predict things that might occur. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to plan your future, but it can become an issue if you're doing that as you're trying to fall asleep. When planning and trying to figure out if future events is keeping you awake, sometimes the helpful thing to do here is to simply write out all your organization plans. Write your to-do list, do your time blocking, and anything else you'd usually do. This will help you see, visualize your plan for the future, allowing you to let it go for the time being so you can enjoy your rest. And the last type of journaling that I will mention here that can be part of your evening reflection is writing a gratitude list, listing all the things you feel grateful for that day. Now you might wonder in this moment, "What is the difference between writing your highlights of today and writing your gratitude list?" And it's very simple actually. Highlights are more about the experiences that occur that day. It's more about the motion, what happened? And gratitude list is more about what is present. What is part of your day regardless of what you did that day. So a highlight might be that you enjoyed a wonderful lunch with a loved one and gratitude could be the resources you have so you can enjoy lunch with a loved one. A highlight could be taking a walk for your lunch break and the gratitude could be being grateful that there is this beautiful park that is right next to your building. And note here that writing your highlights of the day and writing your gratitude list is not about ignoring the bad experiences in life, the difficult emotions. It's about acknowledging that there is good as well. It's about creating space for the good to coexist with the bad. Because for a lot of us, being aware of the difficult experiences comes automatically, but sometimes we have to intentionally work to also see it a good in our life, and there is always good in our life. And that sums up day four. If you're new to journaling, this might seem overwhelming. I definitely encourage you to go slow. Choose one journaling prompt that you want to incorporate into your evening reflection and slowly build up from there. Maybe you will use all of them or maybe you will choose only the ones that feel the best for you. For example, I even don't use all of them. I use maybe two or three depending on the day and depending on what I need that day for myself. After this video, you'll find a meditation for restful sleep, and I encourage you to listen to that meditation as you're ready to go to bed, you're already lying in your bed, and you're ready to fall asleep. After the meditation, you will find a journaling exercise and journal prompts that you can incorporate into your evening reflections. I hope you've enjoyed this course, and I'll see you in our meditation. Thank you so much for being a part of this and thank you for allowing me to teach you about Mindfulness for Better Sleep.