The past few weeks have been stressful and overwhelming to say the least and while in general, we are already a fairly stressed out society, there’s no doubt that things have been taken to another level for many since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Stress can affect every area of our lives, and in particular, our sleep takes a big hit when we’re anxious and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, being over tired can then produce more stress and anxiety, and it can create a vicious circle that can make the stress you’re currently dealing with even more overwhelming.
Stress doesn’t just make it hard to fall asleep, it also makes it difficult to stay asleep and get into the deeper stages of your REM cycle that will allow you to feel rested. Taking some time to destress before bed can do wonders for your sleep, and we see it as one of the most important things you can do for your well being. In today’s post, we’re sharing our favorite ways to destress before bed so you can get the rejuvenating and restful sleep you need. By destressing before bed, you’re switching yourself from the stressed state (fight or flight) to the relaxed state (rest and digest), so you will get a better sleep overall.
Take a bath
There are few things as relaxing as sinking into a hot bath after a stressful day, and it’s a wonderful way to help yourself unwind before bed. In addition to being very relaxing, studies have shown that taking a warm bath 1-2 hours before bed can actually help your body temperature to decrease slightly, which is something our bodies require to fall asleep.
To up the relaxation, you can add some Epsom salts of lavender oil to your bath.
Practice deep breathing
Deep breathing is one of the most effective and easiest ways to relieve stress in just a few minutes. When we’re stressed, our breathing becomes shallow, and this keeps us in a stress state. We likely don’t even realize we’re doing it, as shallow chest breathing tends to be the norm for most of us.
To get yourself out of this stress state, simply take a couple of minutes to focus on your breathing and take a few slow, full breaths. You don’t need to force it, just slow down and feel your breath coming in and filling your body and then exhaling. The calming effects are almost instantaneous and practicing this for even just a couple of minutes before bed can help you to calm your body and mind enough to get a more restful sleep.
Better yet, practice these breathing techniques throughout the day. If you’re able to manage your stress during the day, you’ll already be calmer by the time you start getting ready to wind down at night.
Journaling is an amazing way to release any worries and anxieties that have built up throughout the day. If you’re new to journaling and feel a bit uncomfortable getting started, there are lots of journaling exercises and prompts available online to get you going. Otherwise, just grab a pen and paper and allow the thoughts and words to flow out. Try not to overthink things or censor yourself- just let your thoughts flow out on you and onto the page. It’s a great emotional detox that can help you to release pent up emotions and leaving you feeling calmer and clearer.
Turn off your electronics
Watching TV in bed or scrolling on our phones are both popular pre-bed activities for many of us, but this screen time can wreak havoc on our sleep and further aggravate our stress (especially if you’re watching the news or reading article after article of the latest COVID-19 updates). Screen time in general makes it difficult to sleep because the blue light emitted from our screens is similar to daylight and can trick our brains into thinking that it’s time to be awake.
Additionally, the content we’re consuming on our devices is often stimulating, so it keeps us wired and unable to switch into sleep mode. While this may be a lifestyle change for many, it is important to put all devices away 1-2 hours before bed to let yourself wind down and get ready for sleep.
We all carry stress in different parts of our bodies, such as our stomachs, neck, jaw, or hips, and this can lead to a lot of pain and tension in our bodies. Giving yourself a soothing self-massage before bed is a great way to release tension, enjoy some self-care, and de-stress. Close your eyes and do a quick body scan to see where you feel you’re holding onto tension, and spend a few minutes gently massaging your muscles to help them relax and bring blood flow to the area. There are also lots of great videos online that will walk you through self-massage, acupressure, and shiatsu massages aimed at promoting relaxation and sleep.
Make your bedroom your haven
Having a safe and cozy place that is all your own, your little refuge from the rest of the world, can be very calming, so it’s worth spending the time to make your room feel personal and soothing. This means getting rid of excess clutter, keeping your space clean and tidy, decorating in a way that makes you happy, and turning it into a space that you love being in.
Investing in good bedding can also make a world of difference and having a comfy bed to curl up in is a mini de-stressor in itself! Create your own cozy bed with our selection of organic cotton and linen bedding and responsibly sourced down products.
Create a bedtime routine
We all thrive on routine- it’s a calming force, particularly in times like these, when the rest of our routines and circumstances seem so up in the air and out of our control. Creating a bedtime routine for yourself not only helps to train your body into knowing when it’s time to wind down for sleep, but it can also be calming and centering for us. It doesn’t have to be long or elaborate, just a few consistent steps that help you to feel grounded and on schedule.
Talk to a professional
If you think you need support beyond self-care techniques, you may want to consider speaking to a professional, such as a therapist, to help you manage your stress. Having someone to talk to can be very helpful, particularly when we’re navigating through stressful and uncertain times. While a practitioner may not be able to offer in-person sessions at the moment, many are offering online appointments.
Focus on the positive
While positivity may seem too light and fluffy, focusing on what is going well right now can be a huge grounding and comforting force. Taking a few minutes before bed to think about things that make you happy and that are within your control can help shift the focus away from what is causing you stress and allow you to find peace, relaxation, and a better night’s sleep.