Sleeping is one of my favourite activities, and one that I’m thankfully able to indulge in quite a bit of this week, as I have some time off work. My boyfriend and family can testify that Morning Bokker is not generally a pleasant beast, even when my usual “alarm clock” is G with a cup of tea at 8am (I start work at 10; don’t hate me). So these past two mornings, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed waking up for a moment, smooshing my face into the pillow and diving back down into slumber.
Getting to sleep at night isn’t always such a joy. As a neurotic anxious person, I find that the minute I shut my eyes, the wild rumpus starts, as my worries and dilemmas and things-to-do start holding a ceilidh in my head, stomping and whooping and generally raising hell.
I’ve employed various tactics over the years, to ease me into sleep . Counting was one of the more tedious ones (not sheep or any other farmyard animal- just counting. Yah. Tedious). I’ve tried relaxation techniques and memory games, to limited success. Some years ago, I hit upon the idea of creating a Happy Place, where I’d imagine myself lying and relaxing. It worked, and soon enough I’d be dribbling and drifting off.
At first this Happy Place was a tropical beach, with a hammock between two palm trees, Barry White performing on the shoreline in the distance and waves shushing onto the sand. Then the idea of a beach became something which hurt rather than than soothed, so I needed to find another Happy Place.
So for the last few years I’ve spent many nights lain in my imaginary treehouse, on wooden boards scuffed smooth and matt with age. I recline on a billow of pillows, and sometimes I have a glass of wine to hand. The view to the front is of rolling countryside, and my canopy of green whispers me to sleep (the rustling of leaves in the wind is my favourite sound). The temperature is summer-evening balmy with a light breeze, warm enough to wear cotton pyjamas, but cool enough to wrap furry blankets around my shoulders. My brother and G guard the foot of the ladder, to stop errant dogs and cartoon villains from scampering up to my sanctuary.
However, despite my safety measures, last night my imaginary treehouse suffered from an annoying wasp attack (look, I know it’s not actually real, but once I get an anxious thought in my head, it tends to come to life), which even my loyal guards could not allay. I was forced to rethink my sleep strategy, and decided instead to think of happy things. When I try to fathom happiness in a large, abstract sense, it only makes me feel (go on, guess!) anxious. So I focused on the immediate sensations which make me feel content. It was such a nice feeling that I have decided to think about happy things more often in my waking life, and to share some of them here:
1. The rustling of a Christmas stocking at the end of the bed, and the firm gift-stuffed feeling of it when I poke it with my toe.
2. Laughing with friends until my stomach hurts and I have to beg for mercy.
3. Standing up after an afternoon of gardening, untwisting my limbs and drinking in the fruits of my labour with my eyes.
4. Sundowner cocktails with my family on holiday
5. Day trips with my dad (see also No. 2)
6. Tapas and talking with G at our favourite place
7. Hanging up washing in warm sunshine (like today, when I was out there in a t-shirt and did not feel cold) and sliding into line-dried sheets later on.
8. Obedient hair, freshly washed and behaving itself.
9. The fizz of the first sip of champagne
10. Minibreaks- I’d choose them over holidays in a flash.
And with that, I am off to prepare for No 10. Not the Prime Minister, you understand (though he is with Barry O this week, and meeting him would make me feel very happy indeed), but a minibreak, hurrah!
What are your happy things?