I’ve been all about self-care routines lately.
With the move, the new house and family obligations, my life’s been pretty hectic. On a daily basis I’m pulled in many different directions, and while I love everything that I have going on in my life, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m tired.
When life is hectic and busy, the best thing to do is drop anything that doesn’t serve you and give yourself space to breathe. I’ve felt suffocated lately – partly because of my anxiety, but also because I haven’t had space to just be me. When I’m at home relaxing, the instinct is to turn on my TV or computer and stare into a screen for the night. But what I’m finding is that I’m not re-energizing myself.
Screens drain your energy. They don’t replenish your energy.
So I’ve been trying something different lately: a nightly self-care routine. Instead of squeezing in that last episode on Netflix, I’m turning off my screens early. If I need to be in bed by 9:30, I work backwards from that time and give myself 30 -45 minutes of me-time.
I spend at least half an hour before bed without screen exposure to check in with myself.
How was my day? How do I feel? How do I need to nourish myself? How can I tackle tomorrow? It’s so important for me to ask these questions because truthfully, I would forget to ask if I wasn’t conscious about it. With the stresses of the day I get caught up and don’t check in enough. To calm down from theses stresses, and to ground myself, I follow a self-care routine that changes depending on how I’m feeling.
My nightly self-care routine
This is an ideal night for me, and honestly not all nights follow this routine. Some nights I don’t get home from school until 10pm and weekends are harder. But this is what my ideal night looks like:
8:00PM – Netflix with Mike for an hour
It’s important for me to spend time with Mike, and I know that some of you may disagree that TV time is spending time with each other, but we enjoy it. We talk, we laugh, we cuddle – it’s a nice time to enjoy each other and wind down a little from the day. BUT! I don’t like how I feel after I binge on TV for too long. So that’s why it’s important for me to limit my TV exposure to 1 or 2 hours a night.
9:00PM – turn off all screens and start a self-care activity to wind down
Once the last Netflix episode is done, I turn off all my screens. The TV goes off, the iPad is tucked away, and my phone is left in the kitchen where I’ll get it the next morning. The worst thing you can do is use your cell phone as an alarm clock because you’ll find yourself mindlessly surfing social media right before bed, and first thing when you get up. Break that habit.
Then I choose a self-care activity that would ground me in whatever way I need.
Some self-care routine options:
- Restorative yin yoga: I run through a few poses for grounding, stress relief or relaxation. Here is an awesome video by Yoga with Kassandra.. It’s only 30 minutes and is great for stress and anxiety.
- Take a bath: If you have a bath tub, use it! Grab some epsom salts, which are high in magnesium and amazing for sore muscles and overall relaxation. Add some essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus. Here’s a great list of essential oils that work well in a bath, and how you can use them. Turn off the lights, turn on a salt lamp or candles, and just enjoy the silence.
- Meditate: This is the only time I’m allowed to grab my iPhone, because I need to follow a mindfulness app when I meditate. Some people can meditate without it, but I find that my mind wanders a little too much. I use the apps Calm, Headspace and Omvana. They all have free options, and if you find one you like, you can pay to unlock more meditations. I choose a meditation that I feel I need that day, whether it’s for relaxation, letting go, or specifically for stress.
- Read: If I’m reading a good book, I’ll spend some time finishing off a chapter before bed. This doesn’t happen often these days because I’m in school and most of my reading is too intellectual to “wind down” from at night. However, when I’m not spending all of my time reading for school, I like light reads that are easy to pick up and put down when I need to fall asleep.
9:30-9:45PM – Get in bed and write
I get under the covers but don’t turn off the lights just yet. This is when I spend about 5-10 minutes journalling. Some days I feel like following a routine, so I journal 3 things that I’m grateful for, and what was on my mind during the day. Getting it down on paper helps me appreciate the amazing things happening in my life, even when I’m too busy to see past the anxiety and stress during the day.
9:45PM – Lights out
Most nights I need lights out by 10pm. I wake up each morning at 5:30am and it’s important for me to get at least 7 hours of sleep. I prioritize my sleep because I notice a huge difference on the nights that I don’t get enough. Plus, sleep is essential for physical and emotional processes and repairs, improving brain function, balancing hormones and immune system support. All of these things are so critical to our well being, and it’s no wonder we feel awful if we don’t get enough sleep!
Luckily, I’ve not struggled with sleep too much in my life. When I’m stressed out, I tend to crash at night. But if you have trouble sleeping there are a few things that you can try doing to improve your sleep, and one of those things includes practicing a calming self-care routine at night before bed. All of these actions calm your nerves and your stresses so that you can sleep better at night.
So that’s my ideal nightly self-care routine! Do you follow a self-care routine, or is there anything that you like to do to wind down? Please share, I’d love to hear it!