Use these five lessons to start the Year of the Rabbit on the right foot by making sleep a priority and allowing an abundance of rest to hop through your front door.
I lived in Beijing for five years, and as much as I enjoyed learning the language, eating pork and cilantro dumplings, and experiencing local traditions firsthand, sadly, it was also a period when I struggled the most with insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
I had never lived in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, nor had I ever been so far away from my family and friends. Moving to Beijing got me so far out of my comfort zone that years’ worth of suppressed and stagnant emotions came out all at once.
Luckily, the Chinese capital was also where I found yoga therapy and decided to become a yoga therapist to help other ambitious women manage their sleep issues and finally get a good night’s rest.
My time in Beijing also gave me the opportunity to celebrate and learn about Lunar New Year, the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar. The more I learned, the more I realized that some Lunar New Year’s rituals and traditions are also effective ways of supporting sleep.
As we transition from the Year of the Tiger to the Year of the Rabbit, here are five Lunar New Year-inspired lessons you can draw on as you look ahead to a more rested year.
Lesson 1: Receive (and receive big) because you deserve it.
In Beijing and other places where the Lunar New Year is celebrated, you can spot the 福 (fú) character (or similar symbols) all over in bright red and gold colors, symbolizing happiness and good fortune. People expect to receive gifts from others, and they’re unapologetic about what they ask for.
It’s time to ask for and receive good fortune. The more you ask for, the more you will get. This includes a good night’s rest!
You deserve to receive the best sleep quality ever, and it is possible. The first thing you need to do is to set a realistic goal, and believe that it’s possible and that you deserve it. When you keep the goal in mind and take steps to achieve your intention, spectacular things start to happen.
Lesson 2: Clean, declutter, and make space for the new—including rejuvenating sleep.
I remember Miss Lin, my Chinese teacher, telling me to sweep my hallway and clean my apartment to scare away bad spirits and to make space for new and shiny things to come to me.
Even if it's not Lunar New Year, I believe decluttering is a great tool to feel cozy and at ease in your bedroom and home. How can you make your bedroom a sacred space for rest? This includes decluttering your mind to allow peace to surround you. Releasing anything that no longer serves you is going to create space for good fortune and rejuvenating sleep.
Start small. Even taking 15 minutes today to give away anything that no longer sparks joy in your closet or to journal on things you're ready to let go of from the past year will make a huge difference.
Lesson 3: Prioritize sleep, because life can get noisy.
The bigger and more outrageous the fireworks during Lunar New Year, the better. Not only will you impress the neighbors, but you will also scare away bad luck (and hopefully insomnia as well).
Noise meditation is a great tool that allows you to use noise, overwhelming feelings, and frustration as your point of focus to bring you back to the present moment and be grateful for your blessings, including the challenges in your life.
In the midst of chaos, you can find peace and serenity. The answers are always inside you. The more you learn to embrace the noise, the better you’ll sleep, the less reactive you’ll be, and the more you’ll enjoy life to the fullest.
Lesson 4: Relax, reset, and take time off. Nobody is working anyway.
Seriously, everything stops for two weeks or so during the Lunar New Year, not only in China but also around the world!
I have friends who work in logistics, and they tell me that they always prepare to be extra patient during this time. If you have business with China or other countries that celebrate the Lunar New Year, expect delays and plan for them so you reduce unnecessary stress and overwhelming thoughts that might impact your sleep negatively.
Your body constantly gives you signs about how to take care of it. If you don’t pay attention to these signs, eventually your body will shut down and force you to listen.
Don't wait until everything falls apart for you to take time off to relax, reset, and enjoy your life. Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do for our brain and body health.
Lesson 5: Spend quality time with your loved ones and with yourself.
Lunar New Year is all about family, spoiling your parents, and eating a lot for 15 days.
Remember to put on your oxygen mask first. It’s not selfish to spend quality time with yourself. When you do, you will be able to be more present and enjoy time with your loved ones on a deeper level.
Many of my clients become overwhelmed during the holidays and explode because they are tired and have reached their limits. This leads them to stay wide awake at night or experience panic attacks that prevent them from taking care of their family or enjoying life.
A great way to start taking time off and spending time with yourself is to schedule a solo date once a week and stick to it as if it were a doctor’s appointment. Time and time again, I see clients getting better sleep after adding joy to their lives.
The rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture. Use these five lessons to start the Year of the Rabbit on the right foot by making sleep a priority and allowing an abundance of rest to hop through your front door.
It’s my wish that your year is full of love, health, and happiness. Happy Lunar New Year!