• Misled Millennial

11 Simple Ways to De-stress Before Bed!

Hello, you lovely human you. Can you believe it’s nearly April? What is happening? I feel like someone has sat on the life remote by mistake! With it being the final instalment of March’s habit series, I thought I’d talk to you about a wind down routine.

In my last post, where I talked about how to reduce your stress levels, I mentioned the importance of sleep. Sleep is so important for the recovery of our body and mind.

Suffering with mental health and stress, can make sleep very difficult though. Your mind won’t be still, you heart rate is a little faster than it should be, and no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to switch off and relax. That’s why I thought I'd talk about the tips and tricks of creating healthy evening habits. These habits will help you de-stress and tell your body it’s time for sleep.

These habits will act as little cues for your body to start the process of winding down. Once you have practised these habits, removing stress, and having a peaceful sleep, won’t feel like you’re trying to snooze during a rave anymore!

Now, I’m not going to make some crazy, in-depth evening routine you see all over the internet. Although they are satisfying to watch, they aren’t sustainable, or realistic. A helpful routine will only work, if it’s what is right for you and your body. To make it easier, your stress-free routine should follow this checklist…

Stress-Free Routine Checklist:

- Relaxes you – This is the most important part – It shouldn’t be some complex routine that involves flossing and moisturising your entire existence! Its only purpose is to make you feel calm.

- Sustainable – We’re trying to form healthy habits for our body, which means these actions need to be repeated as best we can. Don’t put something in your routine, that you won’t be able to keep up.

- Enjoyable – What is the point of anything if we don’t enjoy it? You know that feeling when you’re sat on the sofa, and you remember you still need to get ready for bed? That awful, ‘I cannot be bothered’ feeling? Yeah, it sucks. You don’t want that. This evening routine is meant to be something you look forward to, as a way of winding down and preparing for sleep.

- Doesn’t matter if you miss a night – This isn’t a strict schedule. I promise you no one will come and hit you with the bedtime stick if you just think one night, ‘fluff it, I’m too tired, I’m just going to bed’. Habits should be repeated, but not to the point where they make you feel worse.

Now we’ve established what actually makes the best night time routine, here’s my example of ways that help me de-stress and achieve a peaceful state of mind before bed…

11 Simple Ways to De-Stress Before Bed!

1) Separate – If you possibly can, try to only watch the TV in your living room, rather than your bedroom. Having the television on whilst you're falling asleep, may seem comforting, but it’s not the best for a peaceful night’s sleep.

However, for those of you who live in one room, i.e. you’re students, you still live at home, you are part of a house share etc. I appreciate this is much more difficult. I feel you. My apartment is essentially one room. I don’t want to say it’s a studio apartment, because that makes me sound fancier than I am, but it’s lovely and small. So instead, just choose a set time that you turn the TV off each night and begin your wind down routine. This is my mind's first cue that I’m winding down.

2) 5-minute spruce – Set a timer on your phone and spend 5 minutes preparing your bedroom. Is it a clean space? Is the lighting soft? Does it smell nice? Does it feel cosy? I like to make sure all of my clothes are away, and my floor space is clear. I then dim my lights and light a candle. (Disclaimer – Please don’t set yourself alight. That would not be a peaceful way to begin your wind down routine…).

3) Get warm – My personal preference is to shower with a candle on and the lights off. I like to listen to some jazz music, and rinse off. The warmth helps relax my muscles and is the first cue for my body to start winding down.

4) Put on something comfortable – Whether it’s an oversized jumper, onesie, tracksuit or birthday suit. Just wear whatever you feel most relaxed in.

Pro tip - Spraying a calming scent onto your pj's and pillow, can really help your body to wind down. My favourite is lavender. Smells are so powerful at triggering emotion. Have a smell that you associate with calm and safety as part of your wind down routine each night. When you smell it, your body will know it's calm time.

5) Complete any daily self-care – Whether it’s a full cleanse, tone and moisturise, or simply brushing your teeth, whatever your routine is, now’s your time to do it. This is my daily self-care…

- I wash my face with The Body Shop Drops of Youth Foam Wash.

- I tone my face with Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant.

- Then I apply The Body Shop Drops of Youth Concentrate to finish.

These products work wonders for my skin, especially the Paula's Choice toner. It's really helped to clear my skin.

6) Moisturise – At night, is when I like to put my lotions and potions on. I hate the sticky feeling of moisturiser during the day, plus I like the idea of my entire body repairing overnight. This isn’t the most scientific answer, but it’s the only way I can convince myself to moisturise, or else I’d happily grow scales.

Pro-tip - Give yourself a little massage as you do it. Relax your muscles and give your body some much needed TLC. If you can, get a moisturiser that has a calming smell for you too. I use Johnson's Baby Lotion (affiliate link), for this very reason. It reminds me of my little brothers, so it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

7) Stretch – Again, only add this to your routine if it’s something you actually want to do. There are stretches designed for sleep that help release the tension in your muscles, stop the buildup of lactic acid, and physically prepare your body for sleep. I like these ones.

8) Tea – Something warm and decaffeinated can really help soothe you. Camomile is great for helping with sleep. However, I think it tastes like butt hole, so I opt for a hot water and lemon. Warm milk also does the trick and might take you back to your childhood!

9) Journal – This doesn’t need to be anything too heavy. It should only be a quick exercise to unload any recurring thoughts and shift your mindset.

I simply like to write down 3 things I’m grateful for, how I’m feeling that day, and my three main goals for the next day. This helps to stop my busy thoughts and encourages me to practice gratitude just before bed, putting me in a positive mindset.

10) Read – Reading is such a great way to distract your mind. A good book allows you to get lost in a new world, right from the comfort of your own bed. Once I’m relaxed, I can usually only manage a chapter before my eyes get too heavy. I'm reading Atomic Habits, by James Clear (affiliate link), at the moment and I love it!

11) Sleep meditation – This is not as deep and scary as it sounds. I just listen to one of the Sleep by Headspace meditations and I’m usually asleep in about 4 minutes! I tend to wake up at 3am with a headphone trying to make its way to my brain though, so maybe listen to it on loud speaker if you can.

There you have it. 11 very realistic ways to de-stress before bed. No crazy practices, intense yoga or skin care you’ll have to sell organs to afford. Just simple methods you can change to suit your needs. I really hope this will help you on the road to feeling less stressed, and achieving a better night’s sleep. I’ve suffered with anxiety for years, and I know how hard getting a good night’s sleep can be. I hope now you can look forward to going to bed stress-free.

Sweet dreams and tight squeezes!

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