This year has been a mental and emotional marathon. Living through six months of pandemic, quarantines, shutdowns, and social and political unrest (black lives STILL matter), all layered on top of the regular daily stressors and challenges of living life as a human being.
It’s a lot. And when we're under increased levels of stress, our bodies react and our thoughts and feelings can manifest themselves in very real, physical ways.
For many of us, increased stress leads to overthinking, mental burnout, and feelings of anxiety; all of which often results in trouble sleeping.
Quality of sleep is the first thing to go when I’m feeling anxious, stressed, or brain fried. This year I started making intentional shifts in how I end my day and wind down for bed each night. And as I changed my nighttime routine I noticed a marked difference in my ability to relax, turn off the mental chatter, and finally drift into a deep restful slumber.
Here’s my nighttime ritual for the best sleep ever:
Put away the phone
This practice has been a GAME CHANGER. Most of us spend the bulk of our day consuming information: emails, articles, news, social media feeds. At some point it just becomes empty calories to our brain. We’ve all been there: dog-tired, red-eyed, yet stuck in an endless scroll pattern while our precious sleep minutes tick away.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends stopping the use of all electronic devices at least 30 min before bed, but I’ll do you one better and challenge you to put your phone away after dinner. Screen down, do not disturb mode on, and parked in a different room than where you sleep.
Remove the temptation to keep consuming, and give your brain and your eyeballs the break they deserve. Over time you’ll wonder how you ever got sucked into wasting so much precious down time staring into the void of the internet.
Brew a cup of tea
The simplicity of sipping tea is a my favorite rituals for relaxing and winding down. It’s a completely sensorial experience that can help bring you back into your body, and back to the present moment. I love a soothing chamomile, peppermint, or this herbal high desert sage tea in the evening. A soon as I breath in the delicate herbal steam, wrap my hands around a hot mug, and feel each sip warm me all the way down to my belly, my shoulders start to soften and I can feel my whole body begin to relax.
Just be sure to give yourself an hour or so before bed for tea time, so you don’t interrupt that precious sleep with a run to the bathroom.
Give yourself a soothing bedtime self-massage
Another indulgent sensory self-relaxation practice is a sweet bedtime massage with the Calm Body Balm. Keep a balm on your bedside table and take a few minutes each night before your head hits the pillow to soften your skin, relax your muscles, and get lost in the delicate scent of calming herbs, flowers, and cedar.
Scoop a pea-sized amount of the Calm Body Balm with your fingertip and rub between the hands to warm up the balm. Pause to take a deep breath, and begin massaging gently at the temples, working your way along the ears to the muscles of the jaw. From here take your massage along the neck toward the back of your skull. Take your sweet time and give extra attention to any areas that feel especially tense or delicious when you apply pressure.
Next take the massage to your hands. With another small scoop of balm, rub between the hands to warm up and disperse, and begin massaging the thick muscle between your thumb and forefinger. Work through the muscles of both hands, and give a firm but gentle squeeze up your forearms.
Finally, finish at your feet: Smooth one final scoop of balm over the soles of your feet. Apply gentle pressure and massage your arches, heels, and base of the toes.
Breathe deep & rest easy
Take one more deep, full breath. Send a tender message of love and appreciation to your body. Crawl under the covers, close your eyes, and enjoy a restful, deep sleep.