I need to do a system reset on my brain/body, right now.
January 9, 2013 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I have a ton of work to do over the next few days, and I think the accumulation of poor sleep habits, stress, and caffeine have rendered me mentally impotent. I'm too tired to think clearly, but too wired to take a nap (I've tried several times in the last few hours). I've never felt like this before. I just want to wipe the slate clean somehow. Obviously a full day spa treatment or a weekend communing with nature would be nice, but I ain't got that kind of time. Any ideas? The only plus here is that I work from a computer and set my own schedule, so I'm beholden to nobody but me while I complete these work obligations. PS: I am writing this at 6pm on the west coast.
posted by malhouse to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Take a hot bath.
Lie down in a completely dark room.
Stay there for at least an hour. Don't get up, don't check the computer or read or anything.
Hopefully, you'll sleep, which sounds like exactly what you need right now.
posted by xingcat at 6:13 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

In lieu of a spa day, you can take sort of do a fake version of going to a "Russian Bath" — do a very hot shower and then switch to very cold water and switch back and forth again (give yourself a minute to a few minutes of each) to get your blood pumping.

A long hot bath and a good nap always help. Keep the naps to either 20 minutes or 2 hours.

A quick run if you can manage it.

Good luck!
posted by amoeba at 6:14 PM on January 9, 2013

Sensory deprivation tank? Juice cleanse? (not at the same time.)
posted by supercres at 6:14 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

A 3 day juice cleanse from Blue Print Cleanse? It'll clean out your body while at the same time take the mental muscle of preparing meals and planning out of your control for the next several days. If there's a Whole Foods nearby, you can buy the drinks there after you research them online.

Yeah it sounds a bit outside the box, but I think that's what you're looking for.
posted by matty at 6:16 PM on January 9, 2013

If it were me, I would spend 45 minutes on an elliptical machine, take a shower and a 2 hour nap. That 3 hour investment will probably be more than worth it. Repeat as necessary and possible over the next few days.
posted by forthright at 6:17 PM on January 9, 2013

At the recommendation of my therapist, I've had some success with a technique called 'progressive muscle relaxation', especially when I need to rest but am too stressed to fall asleep. I can't find the audio clip he gave me online, but this one seems to be pretty similar (there are others online as well). It's simple, just takes 10 minutes.
posted by PercussivePaul at 6:31 PM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Eat protein-rich food and drink a big glass of water. Repeat at regular intervals throughout your working schedule, they'll help buffer all the caffeine (IME) and keep you from feeling so jittery.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:34 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Friends of mine who did juice/etc cleanses found the first few days really hard, like constantly thinking about food - probably not what you want to do right now.
posted by jacalata at 6:52 PM on January 9, 2013

I don't like baths, but I find taking a long, hot shower in the dark is very helpful.

Warm food, maybe? Warm milk, or oatmeal or something?

Do you exercise? Do you have time for, say, a twenty-minute run? When I'm feeling super crazy, twenty to thirty minutes of exercise makes me feel significantly less crazy and more focused.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 7:03 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Forty minutes on a treadmill, ten minutes in a really hot shower, four ounces of good scotch, two aspirin, two big glasses of water, go to sleep.
posted by mhoye at 7:07 PM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

A hot bath, followed by some type of guided relaxation - I like a few of them from the GWU Counseling Center, particularly Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Deep Breathing. They're available on iTunes.

For chrissake, don't do a juice cleanse, your body needs all the fuel it can get right now. That said, eat well for the next few days.

Honestly it sounds like you need some good sleep. If you can get your hands on a little bit of Valium or Klonapin, that might knock you out enough to sleep well tonight. Be careful with OTC sleep aids because they will sometimes give you a 'hangover' in the morning.
posted by radioamy at 7:19 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dance to the best happiest music you can think of. Whatever just cheers you up. Genre doesn't matter, it can be anything from rap to Classical.

Do it for 20 minutes or so. It gets the blood going, clears your head, and cheers you up at the same time. Lately, I've been dancing to a lot of Rush. (The band.)
posted by spinifex23 at 7:20 PM on January 9, 2013

It's true you'd benefit from a good sleep -- but you may not be able to reset your existence enough, in a short time, to get that. In fact there's even a risk in trying, because In a pressure situation, lying awake in bed for a few hours can raise your anxiety level.

If I were you, depending on your exact time frame, I might well take mhoye's advice. But I've had plenty of experience with shift work, and I know what works for me.

But above all, don't worry yourself too much about it. Sleep when you're sleepy, and work when you're not. I suspect you have enough reserve energy to get you thru it.
posted by LonnieK at 7:34 PM on January 9, 2013

Melatonin (no grogginess, but possibly very intense dreams); then a full 8 hours.

Exercise is great but keeps me up if I do it too close to bedtime.

Eat lightly but a little more often - a piece of lean protein here, a salad there. Take small but frequent breaks, e.g., to make herbal tea (I like rooibos) or drink water.

If you're really desperate, what I used to do when I was running a 24-hour experiment was to find an empty conference room, lie down on whatever surface I could find that wasn't the floor, set an alarm for around 40 minutes later, turn out all the lights and then listen to a guided relaxation meditation. There are tons online but here are a few (tip: if you put "site:.edu" in your google search you will get all of the college stress reduction programs). That way even if you can't sleep, you're still getting to take a break and relax for a bit without just stressing about what you have to do next. Sleep is just a bonus. Afterwards I would stretch and do a few jumping jacks and wash my face to wake the rest of the way up.

Best of luck! You'll get through it.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:20 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's what works for me: have some sort of calcium like milk, cottage cheese or yogurt and bread to absorb stomach acids and settle your stomach. Take a mild over the counter sleep aid like doxylamine succinate---I find this one leaves no hangover effect. Snuggle in for a rest and work tomorrow which will be rainy and cold and excellent for working.

I understand hot showers are too stimulating if you want to sleep, so I would skip the shower and exercise and rest instead.
posted by effluvia at 8:41 PM on January 9, 2013

Don't take a nap. Sleep, properly. It doesn't matter what time if you're not on a set schedule. If you're tired at 6 pm or 4 pm or 2 am, go to bed and sleep until you wake up, whether that is 6 hours or 12 hours.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:13 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Run outdoors followed by a hot shower and a balanced meal with some carbs, veg and protein. At bedtime, put an audio relaxation track (progressive muscular relaxation is good, as mentioned above) on headphones for a good night's sleep. If you're really wound up, put it on repeat - I often find that the first time round doesn't send me to sleep, but the second time I'm away.
posted by penguin pie at 4:57 AM on January 10, 2013

I would not underestimate the effect that diet has on the way you are feeling. Cut out caffeine, sodas and any other non-nutritious forms of sugar, drink lots of water, eat lots of fresh vegetables/fruit. Stick to it for two weeks and I guarantee you will feel better. (and yes, exercise!)
posted by piyushnz at 10:27 AM on January 10, 2013

no caffeine
no sugar
no alcohol
no dairy
fruit, vegetables and meat

you will feel on top of the world.
posted by Señor Pantalones at 3:48 PM on January 10, 2013

The thing with cutting out caffeine, doing a juice cleanse, etc etc, is that the first thing that happens is you are probably going to feel like shit for at least a few days as your body adjusts. That makes it a really terrible suggestion when the question is "How do I feel as good as possible for the next few days".
posted by jacalata at 4:28 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

What worked for you?

I'm lying flat on my back listening to music with headphones on after drinking a big cup of caffeinated tea (in lieu of coffee). I can't give up the caffeine but I wanted to try something that "felt" healthier. I'm also drinking an Emergen-C a day because that also seems healthy.

Problem is I can relax for a moment but then I'm back to feeling foggy and anxious once I'm back in front of the computer.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:46 AM on July 12, 2013

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