Mastin Kipp developed an innovative strategy to help people break free from what's holding them back—from sleep.
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Functional life coach Mastin Kipp, author of Claim Your Power and Daily Love: Growing Into Grace, talks about why he created this specific brand of life coaching and shares his techniques for coping with one of the most common problems he sees: insomnia.

What is Functional Life Coaching?

"Essentially, coaching is about moving and therapy is about going back, and people have been craving a bridge, a middle ground between traditional coaching and therapy. Functional Life Coaching does both.

I came up with the idea after working with clients for seven years. I kept seeing people make a plan and then not do it. I started asking why. I found that it could often be traced back to emotional trauma. Traumas like loss, grief, divorce, stress, anxiety, depression, or a big fight with a friend can affect us in ways we don’t realize, causing us to become stuck. Functional Life Coaching helps people uncover and dissolve the root of that trauma so they can reach their goals." (Related: I Saw a Sleep Coach and Learned 3 Crucial Lessons)

How can it be used to help insomnia?

"One problem many people bring to me is insomnia. The first thing I ask is, 'Why is this happening?' Is your bedroom too light or loud? Do you have a big stressor in the morning that’s keeping you up? If there’s no obvious answer, I encourage clients to write in a journal before bed. They’ll jot down what they’re feeling and thinking, what’s making them anxious. Then I have them review it the next morning."

What are you looking for in your journal entry?

"The first thing is what I call open loops. These are all the little to-dos that you stress about before bed. 'I have to take the car to get its oil changed,' or 'I’m anxious about meeting this work deadline.' Just writing those things down can help you calm your mind so you can fall asleep more easily. But you have to be sure you’re going to take action later, or you’ll continue worrying. When you make a plan for resolving them, they lose their power." (Related: Simple Stress Relief Techniques)

Is the "why" always so simple?

"No way. There might be a bigger problem you have to deal with, like a toxic relationship or a soul-sucking job. I always say: Your body knows when you’re in the wrong situation. It will trigger its stress responses, and that will keep you awake. Journaling helps uncover these issues. They’ll continue to come up in your writing because they’re dominating your mind. The uncertainty, fear, or frustration surrounding the problem can make it difficult to recognize until you’re reviewing your journal. Then you can see the pattern."

Will you have trouble sleeping until you resolve the situation?

"Not necessarily. Acknowledging that it’s time for you to make a big change can help. So can starting the process—updating your résumé, looking for a new job, talking to a therapist or trusted friends. I also tell clients not to make the problem their identity. Avoid saying, 'I’m a bad sleeper.' Change it to, 'I’m having trouble sleeping right now.' This reminds you to be hopeful." (Psst…it can't hurt to try this, too: How to Use Sleep Meditation to Fight Insomnia)

Shape Magazine, October 2019 issue