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Mindful Insights

Your Questions, Our Therapist's Wisdom

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Counselor Cami

I bartend at a restaurant and typically finish around 1 am. 

By the time I get home it’s about 2 am, and I can’t fall asleep or stay asleep.

What can I do to help my insomnia?

Hi Reader! I remember how difficult it was for me to fall asleep when I was working night shifts and then going out with my fellow servers to the bar next door when we finished for the night.  

  • So that’s my first question for you, are you going out drinking after work?  Alcohol can absolutely interrupt your sleep. 
  • I’m also curious how late in the day you’re having caffeine?
  • Some other things to think about- do you find your bed comfortable? 
  • Does the temperature in your room feel good to you?
  • Do you hang out in bed during the day before your shift begins?  This is a big one-good sleep hygiene recommends that our beds are only used for sleep (and sex) so our bodies associate the bed with sleep.  

There are also some exercises you can do to help yourself fall asleep, such as breathing exercises, a progressive muscle relaxation, or downloading a mental health app (most have 7 day free trials) and listening to sleep stories or doing sleep meditations.  Remember that old saying to count sheep?  Well there actually is something to that!  It can be helpful to count backwards from 1000 in increments of 7 and see how far you get.  I have several clients who fall asleep during this exercise.  A lot of this is about quieting your mind and relaxing your body.  

Also important- stay off your phone in bed!  It is stimulating.  So if you decide you want to use an app to help with sleep, play around with it during the day so you only need to touch a few buttons at night to get you to the part of the app that you think will be helpful.  

It’s a good idea not to try to force sleep as that often makes it worse.  So if you find yourself getting frustrated about not falling asleep, try reading a book or magazine on the couch and see if that helps.

There are several things we all can to do to set ourselves up for success with sleep as well as a lot of options to help induce sleep.  Everything isn’t for everyone- you’ll need to play around and figure out what works best for you. Oh, and I’m not saying you should never go out drinking with your friends after work- just know that you probably won’t get your very best sleep on those nights. I hope this helps, and please let us know if you have more questions!

Server trying to sleep | Image by Jerbear

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Counselor Cami

As a server in a busy restaurant,
do you have any tips to help me cope with social anxiety before my shift?

Hi reader!  Great question.  First off- good for you for exposing yourself to something that makes you uneasy.

Often times when we avoid our triggers the anxiety only grows.  My hope for you is that as you continue to work at this restaurant you will become more accustomed to socializing with strangers and, over time, somewhat desensitized to the anxiety you feel when socializing.  In the meantime, to help with the anxiety you feel before (or sometimes during) work, it may be helpful to do some breathing exercises, a progressive muscle relaxation, a 54321 calming exercise, and engage in positive self talk.  Here are links to some of the above: