Healthier Together Series: Cycle 1 C. Relaxation & Sleep — There’s an app for that…

Today’s Relaxation & Sleep Notes:

This group of notes will be geared towards how to relax, decompress, reduce stress and/or have more satisfying sleep. As a physician, I often have people come to me looking for a pill to help them relax or sleep or otherwise decrease their mental activity, quiet the mind. They are basically asking me for something to turn the brain’s conscious mind “off” or at least turn it down. Unfortunately, many of these pills are addictive or at least can cause a physical dependence. The media seems to promote these drugs as if everyone is taking it and it is “normal” almost to the point of making these pills trendy.

I am not a fan of pills if they are not necessary. And I am DEFINITELY not a fan of causing someone to become dependent on pills unnecessarily, and especially if there might be an alternative way to take care of them. Many of these pills, other than having dependence and addictive potential, can cause motor vehicle accidents, injuries at the workplace, allow misuse by “sharing or selling” it to others, and they take away your control of your own mind’s abilities to self regulate and calm itself. Also, over time, some of these meds require increasing doses as the body adjusts and needs more. They can have terrible withdrawal. In the worst cases, they can kill.

You can imagine, I wanted to learn other options for my patients–and initially, this search was prompted when I first started interacting with pediatric cancer patients and their family members. The children were scared, anxious or in pain or uncomfortable or dreading treatments. Also, their parents, siblings and close friends were having difficulties watching a loved one go through pain, procedures and fearing suffering and death. I wanted to be helpful.

I looked for options that would actually empower my patients and their families, improve their well-being, allow them to sleep, decrease their anxiety. I searched for options that would be able to be used on the road, at work, in the hospital, anywhere & whenever they needed it. I wanted tools that could be flexible – used for relaxation or for sleep, and that got more effective with time.

Fortunately, I went to a medical school that is progressive and understands the complexity of the human experience and appreciates an integrated model of providing health care. I had the opportunity over 3 years, to get advanced training in Medical Hypnosis. And guess what I found out? Using what I learned in my Medical Hypnosis training, I learned to teach my patients how to quiet their own minds. They learn how to train their own minds to relax, and if they want, to sleep!

Interestingly, there are apps for this also. The key is practice. How do you practice? Repetition.

I recommend finding a self hypnosis app or use Bud Winter’s sleep training or find a trained specialist who does medical hypnosis and chose a single method you like and use it regularly for a period of time. It will become more effective, and work faster, with practice. It’s a way of learning how to allow your conscious mind to talk to your subconscious mind. Once you learn the power of self hypnosis and develop the ability to control your own mind, you can accomplish anything. Relaxation and sleep will be within your mind’s control because you will have learned a way to quiet the mind.

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