Tools: Reducing stress with imagery and sleep

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Visualization: Springtime in the forest12 Rules for Better Sleep

Visualization: Springtime in the forest

You are walking in the forest in early spring. Allow yourself to feel the soft, moist ground of the earth under your feet. Drink in the dark, earthly colours grounding you with Nature. You see fresh young green shoots springing up from the moist earth after their winter hibernation. Allow yourself to be drawn closer to one of these shoots near to the earth‘s floor. Be interested in every detail of this little creation. Your hand reaches out to touch the leaves of a young plant. Perhaps a droplet of moisture clings to your finger like an infant to its mother. You draw your finger to your mouth and touch the droplet to your tongue. Allow your tongue to come alive with the replenishing liquid. Allow its hydrating properties to refresh your mouth as well as your spirit. You sense the warm sun touching the top of your head and it is time to continue on.

You might wish to stand up and stretch your body up to the sky, where the tops of the tall trees meet the vastness of the universe. Notice how the dark greens and browns of the trees contrast the oceanic blue of the sky. You hear the songs of birds flying overhead. Allow yourself to be one with Nature as you listen to what the birds are saying to you. Surrender to the stillness and quiet in the forest now.

Scan the soundscape for other noises and be amazed that there is life everywhere around you. Come alive with the feeling of being part of Nature‘s rebirth. You walk deeper into the forest‘s mysteries now and take deep invigorating breaths of the damp, cooling air. Your nostrils fill with Nature‘s springtime delights. Focus closely on subtle smells of what a new season brings– perhaps the sweet aroma of wildflowers or mossy peat. The heady smell makes you feel slightly giddy and fully alive.

Now it is time to leave the forest. You might wish to walk more briskly now. Notice how alive you feel with all the oxygen coursing through your veins. Even though it is time to leave this place, trust that you can hold onto the lessons of spring. Everything has a fresh new perspective. Allow the many possibilities in life to dance around you.


Written by Barbara Fretz, 2005

12 Rules for Better Sleep

  1. Sleep as much as needed to feel refreshed but not more. Excessively long times in bed can lead to fragmented and shallow sleep.
  2. Have a regular wake-up time in the morning. This strengthens circadian cycling and leads to regular times of sleep onset.
  3. Exercise daily to deepen sleep. Occasional exercise does not necessarily improve sleep the following night.
  4. Use a fan to provide background ‘white noise’ if occasional loud noises disturb your sleep.
  5. Keep room temperature a little cool. Too hot or too cold rooms disturb sleep.
  6. Hunger may disturb sleep so a light snack may help. Try low fat, non-spicy snacks.
  7. An occasional sleeping pill may be of some benefit, but their chronic use is ineffective in most insomniacs.
  8. Use deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises to divert the mind from anxious thoughts and list making, which interfere with falling asleep.
  9. Avoid caffeine, including coffee, tea, pop and chocolate. Caffeine disturbs sleep even in those who feel is does not.
  10. Avoid alcohol. It may help tense people fall asleep more easily, but the ensuing sleep is then fragmented.
  11. If you feel angry and frustrated because you can‘t sleep, don‘t try harder and harder to fall asleep. Turn on the light and do something different (but no electronics or rigorous exercise!).
  12. Reduce number of cigarettes your smoke; chronic smoking disturbs sleep.


Adapted from “11 Rules for Better Sleep Hygiene” in Peter Hauri‘s (1982) book, Current Concepts: The Sleep Disorders.