When things get messy, busy, hectic or stressful during the day, most of us think to ourselves “I can’t wait for this day to finally be over!”
Stress and a sudden feeling of overwhelm most of the time come unexpectedly. That is one of the reasons why I am such a huge believer in rituals and routines. Both morning and nighttime.
I love both the very beginning and the end of the day because I find them both incredibly peaceful. Those morning and nighttime rituals are keys to my keeping my sanity when everything else seems to get out of control. For a lot of us, nighttime/bedtime is the only time of day we get just for ourselves, too. The time where the distractions and the noise die down for a while- which makes it an excellent opportunity for a few self-care rituals.
NIGHTTIME SELF-CARE RITUALS
1. BRAIN DUMPING
If there has been a lot going on during your day, come bedtime you might find yourself feeling like your brain just will.not.stop. You worry, you play out different scenarios in your head, you overthink and the next thing you know, it’s 3 am and you’re thinking whether you should even bother trying to fall asleep if you have to be up in 2.5 hours. Even if it only happens once in a while, it can mess up with your sleep cycle and leave you feeling tired, weak and grumpy for days and it can take days for your body and cortisol levels to readjust.
On days when stress seems to get the best of you, do yourself a favor and do some solid brain dumping before you start to unwind for the night. Brain dumping is pretty much exactly what it sounds like; it’s you, writing down everything that is on your mind, everything that weighs you down or stresses you out. It can also be one of your nighttime self-care rituals. Think of it as untangling your brain or using a real-life pensieve- the upside to brain dumping is that it doesn’t require advanced wizardry. When you have all these thoughts, plans, goals, responsibilities and other things running through your head, it’s hard to put them all in order while they’re freely floating through your head. Once you write it all down on paper, they have no place else to go. Everything is right in front of you. You can look at everything you wrote down, identify what creates stress, create a plan and process everything that is on your mind.
The more you think you don’t need it, the greater the chances that you can benefit from it. Meditation can be incredibly healing, it can help you clear your head, it can teach you to slow down, relieve stress, sleep better and improve your overall wellbeing. Nowadays there are so many wonderful guided meditation apps out there like Calm, Headspace or the Mindfulness App– there really is no excuse for not trying it.
3. GET COMFY
Once I have my PJs on, I am done for the day. We previously talked about the importance of unwinding and letting your body know that it’s time to for bed (this means lights out, no working + no electronics in bed, among other things). It’s all in the power of habit and training your body to recognize that certain rituals and habits mean that you’re about to get some zzzzs. While it might sound a bit silly and probably obvious, getting comfortable before going to bed is just one of those triggers that will let your body know that it’s time to get rest.
Hey, I love a good old baggy shirt I’ve had for ages as much as the next girl, but there is just something about getting into a soft, fresh, comfortable set of (preferably matching) PJs that just makes me go “aahhhhh!” the minute I put it on. Nice, comfortable sleepwear shouldn’t be reserved exclusively for Christmas mornings. Do some gentle stretching right before you go to bed, make sure that the temperature in your bedroom isn’t too high (crack those windows open if the weather allows it) and get your body ready for some good-quality sleep.
Okay, hear me out. No need to roll your eyes and tell me that ain’t nobody got time for that. Why? Because there’s an app for that. I’ve been using clinical hypnotherapy apps from Andrew Johnson since I was in college, pretty much every.single.night. I’ve suffered from chronic insomnia for a very long time before finally getting my sleep patterns under control. This doesn’t mean that sleep is something I no longer struggle with, but it does mean that I have developed skills, techniques, and tools that help me deal with occasional sleeplessness.
One of those tools are apps like Deep Sleep, Stress-Free or Positivity with Andrew Johnson. These audio apps use clinical hypnotherapy to help you relax, manage stress, create a more positive outlook and, most importantly, fall asleep without tossing and turning. Other than my email, these are some of the most-used apps that I currently have on my phone. They also give you an option where you can end with falling asleep or “waking up” which is cool when you also want to use them during the day. Whenever I feel so exhausted or mentally drained that I can’t fall asleep (yup, being “too tired to sleep” can be a thing if you struggle with adrenal fatigue- stress elevates adrenaline and cortisol levels which increase your alertness) I always listen to one of the hypnotherapy audios before reaching for my sleep medication. 9 out of 10 times I’m asleep within 10 minutes and a huge bonus is that I don’t get any nightmares or other side-effects like I do whenever I use medication.
5. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR NIGHTTIME BEAUTY ROUTINE
This is the one time where a little multitasking is totally okay. Taking a bath to unwind after a long day? Read a few chapters of an inspiring book. Taking a quick shower? Imagine the stress of the day washing away- forgive yourself for things that didn’t go as planned and let the stress go, visualize it leaving your body. Listen to an audiobook. While you’re brushing your teeth you can make a mental gratitude list and think of some of the good and nice things that happened to you during the day.
Even if you’ve had somewhat of a bad day, there’s always something to feel grateful for- we just tend to pay more attention to the “stressful” or “bad” things, than we do to the good and positive ones. The more you pay attention to the “good” the more you will begin to notice it. Even on those shitty days where you are so mentally exhausted that you feel like you got run over by a train once you finally crawl to bed.
Taking a little time out just for yourself doesn’t have to involve anything complicated. It is, however, very important to look out for not just your physical wellbeing, but also for your mental wellbeing.
Practicing self-care, taking a little break when you need to and listening to your body and your own needs is the best thing you can do to avoid a sudden burnout, breakdown or overwhelm. It’s important to be there for others; your family, your friends- but it’s even more important that you be there and show up for yourself.