How I Wind Down & Relax Before Bed | Dealing with Anxiety at Night
As you may know if you’ve read my blog before (or if you know me in real life), I’m a bit of worrier. I mean… that’s the understatement of the year to be honest, and we’re only 20 days in! I’ve suffered with anxiety for a few years now and it’s always at its worse in the evenings. On a good day, my anxiety will start to materialise bit by bit (usually in the from of a stomach ache, feeling sick and/or jittery) as as it starts to get dark, on a bad day I often feel totally unable to cope with the amount of time I’m allowed to be left alone with my own thoughts during the evening.
This is why it has been essential for me to create a really relaxing evening routine. I see my evening routine as a ritual, something I do every day to tell my brain that it’s time to settle down and to stop thinking about anything that might be stressing me out. And, so far, having a routine has really helped me! Some days I do the bare minimum of this routine and sometimes I go all out, depending on how much time I have and how I feel that day. But I thought I’d go through the extended version of it with you step by step, in the hope that it might encourage or inspire you to find ways that you can wind down in the evening, especially if you struggle with them like I do!
I’d also like to point out that skincare is a really big part of how I wind down in the evening and I was actually going to include my skincare routine in this post. But, it’s fairly long and I wanted to go through it in detail so I’ve given it it’s own post, which you can read here if you’d like!
But here are the other ways in which I wind down in the evenings that I’d really recommend to everyone, whether you struggle with nights or not …
1. Relaxing Yoga and/or Meditation
I hope the suggestion of exercise before bed hasn't put you off already! The type of yoga I do before bed isn’t really exercise at all anyway. It’s mostly just lying down, usually with a pillow or blanket and focussing on my breathing, with a bit of easy stretching thrown in there. This is probably the step in my bedtime routine I skip the most due to laziness. But if I’m feeling really stressed or anxious before bed, I’ll always roll out my mat and take this time to myself. The only at home yoga practice I follow is Yoga With Adriene, who creates weekly yoga videos and is just brilliant. She has yoga for every mood but her bedtime yoga practices are particularly great.
Instead, or as well, as yoga, sometimes I do a little bit of meditation. It’s not something I’m totally convinced on as I often just sit there mentally-planning tomorrow’s to do list. But sometimes it does just help me take some time for myself when I’ve had a busy/stressful day. I’ve never done a meditation practice longer than 5 minutes because I’m almost sure I wouldn’t be able to get through a practice longer than that and I don’t want to make myself feel bad, so I stick to the 3-5 minute sessions. I use the app Headspace, although I don’t pay for it so I am very limited on my choice of practices. I would really recommend their beginners series though!
2. A Little Bit of Netflix
This is probably the one that I do manage every night! I’m not a big movie watcher but I LOVE a series. I think I like them because of the familiarity and comfort they provide and also because they’re usually only 30-60 minutes which is a lot more do-able and less intimidating than a 2 and a half hour film.
Anyway, I don’t need to tell you how good Netflix and TV is, you already know. I know the blue lights are supposed to be bad for your sleep but, personally, I love the escapism TV provides before bed and it really allows me to get out of my own head and concentrate on something other than my own life. Some of my favourite escapist, easy-to-watch TV shows include Jane The Virgin, Crazy Ex Girlfriend and The Good Place, but there are so, so many more.
3. Sleepy Candles
I was given a lavender candle just over a year ago as a Christmas present and since then, I will never go back. Burning a lavender (or any ‘sleepy’ smelling) candle before bed is so relaxing, not only because of the smell but because lighting a candle really feels like a ritual and a sensory reminder to your body that this is the time to relax.
4. Some One on One Time with My Current Book of Choice
Even for people who don’t particularly like reading, I think reading before bed is something everyone should try! It might work, similarly to Netflix, in that it allows you to escape your own world, or it might work that you’re so bored you fall asleep. I choose to read before bed because of the former reason but whatever works for you is good!
Sometimes I read 2 pages before bed, sometimes I give myself an hour and read 40- it just depends how I’m feeling and how much university-related reading I’ve already done that day. The book I’m reading in these photos is Refinery29’s Money Diaries, which is all about how to sort your finances out. It’s not exactly the most relaxing book to read before bed, sometimes because it’s slower it helps me to fall asleep though. Plus, I only really like reading one book (for fun) at a time so I just read whatever I’m currently reading before bed. If you’re really struggling with reading, I have a blog post all about how to get back into it.
5. Pillow Spray the Day Away
Finally, we have my ultimate nightly ritual, the pillow spray! I’ve been skeptical of the humble pillow spray before, but after trying it, I don’t think I could ever go back. I use the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, which smells like a dream. It’s not really the smell that helps me relax though, it’s the ritual of spraying it and telling my body ‘it’s time to relax and sleep now’, much like the candles.
I sometimes use a de-stressing roller ball too if I feel like I need it. I like the This Works one and the Liberty one that they created in partnership with Aromatherapy. I also like doing a face mask before bed. They don’t even have to have a ‘sleepy smell’, I just find them super relaxing, even if it is a cliche. I talk a little bit more about this in my evening skincare routine blog post.
I hope you’re feeling inspired to have a relaxing evening tonight! If you’re reading this on a Sunday, which is when it’s going up, tonight is such a good time to carve out some time to relax and set yourself up for a great week. The time is so worth it as it will do wonders for your mental health, the quality of your sleep and therefore your happiness and productivity levels! If it’s not Sunday, start tonight anyway, I really hope an evening routine helps you as much as it has helped me!