A fellow therapist once told me a great sleep strategy, that she uses with her clients who are having difficulty getting to sleep at night. She told me that when you struggle with sleep it is almost always because your mind is focused on the past or the future and to fall asleep you need to be in the present.
She called it the five-five-fives and I still use it with patients today. You focus on five things you can see, hear and feel. Then four of each, then three of each, etc.
If you start to forget what number you are on or were supposed to be seeing or hearing, that is perfect as it means you are getting drowsy.
I have tried it on a number of occasions and I often lost track and fell asleep or if I did get to the end, I remembered so little after that I must have drifted off pretty quickly.
I found the trick to be helpful in just finding presence during waking hours as well – If you are worried, it is rarely about the present, so look around. Be in the moment you are in and absorb it with your eyes, ears and body. Using your senses of smell and taste can also aid in this exercise of living in the present. And as life has a way of distracting us or creating tunnel vision–even when living in a tropical paradise–it’s important to be reminded to take in this gorgeous little paradise with all senses.
Photography by Dan O’Connor
The colours in the sea, the endless beaches and tropical flowers are visually stunning. The Caribbean embraces colour. The houses here are often bright, unabashed shades of blues, pinks, oranges, yellows and greens. Lively, fun and a welcome break from the careful taupes and greys of more conservative destinations.
The land and sea cry out for a little flair in a building or home. I remember first arriving here and even at night time I was wide eyed and watching for the changes in landscape, the hills scattered with houses, cattle at the roadside, the nightlife in small roadside bars. Now I realize that in a focused drive to work, I can sometimes block the beautiful ocean out my side view that still, when taking a proper pause, takes my breath away. I wonder how I can even for a second turn such a view into a mundane part of my daily passage.
I try and remind myself to stop and take it in and let my eyes be richly rewarded.
Where I live, on Tortola, the ocean is within a few minutes reach at every point. The sounds of the waves crashing is energizing and calming to take in. Engage your ears. Our steel pan bands, the giggling of small children playing in the waves, the pelicans plunging in the sea, the breeze swaying the palm trees, or a conch shell held up to the ear are sure to delight.
The Sense of Smell Institute states that people can remember smells after a year with 65% accuracy in comparison to visual stimulants at a statistic of 50% after three months. Our sense of smell, or olfaction occurs in the same part of our brain as emotions and memories.
The memorized smell of freshly grated nutmeg on your Pina Colada may just make an open spice cupboard transport you back to a cool beach bar.
Feel the warmth of the sand on your toes, the coolness of a plunge off a catamaran, an invigorating massage at one of our many spas, or that good soreness of well used surfing muscles. Tortola offers so many opportunities for physical fitness. The challenge and work of sailing a boat, taking the control of your breath to new levels with scuba, hiking-up Sage mountain, and easing into a hammock.
Each one does the body good.
Try fresh coconut milk, eat in our many fabulous restaurants, and partake in our local fruits–I am crazy about fig bananas or fresh-off-the-tree mangoes. There are so many flavours around – conch fritters, sea grapes, fresh Anegada lobster, mauby, sorrel, peanut punches… the list goes on. And if you are visiting and wanting to keep the taste memory, you can even pick up one of our local cookbooks to recreate some amazing restaurant and yacht favourites in your own kitchen.
A newbie to the NEWBIE, Kelly Bos is an individual, couple and family therapist. She’s also a wife, and a mom to an industrious 4-year-old. Her expertise in all these roles contributed to sections relating to children, family and island fever.