Sometimes at night our minds have a hard time shutting down to let us sleep. We may find ourselves revisiting past events, thinking through the day, worrying about tomorrow, or mentally putting together a to-do list. None of these thoughts are conducive to relaxing into sleep. It can be helpful to take 5-10 minutes to do a brief visualization to help our minds settle.

Sit down with pen and paper so you can take notes. Visualize a container with a lid, and let it just sit there. Then reflect on your thoughts.

Look at whatever your mind has to offer you. If it needs follow-up, write yourself a reminder to follow up. If there is nothing else to be done about it – at least for the night, tell yourself you’ve done what you can and there is nothing else to do tonight. Then mentally imagine putting it away in the container.

Repeat this for each thought your mind gives you – addressing what needs to be addressed, and then putting it away in the container.

When nothing else comes to mind, imagine closing the lid on the container and putting it away. Tell yourself that you’ve done all you could for the night, that you are putting these thoughts to bed, and you can pick them up tomorrow as needed.

If you notice a thought comes back to bother you, gently imagine putting it back in the container and give yourself permission to let it go for the night.

With practice, this process tends to become easier and faster as our minds get used to us wrapping up the day and putting away our thoughts at night.

Contributed by Rachel Sahtout, LCSW