Evening Routine For Better Sleep and Reduced Anxiety

Following a consistent routine before bedtime not only helps keep our stress levels low – but also boosts mindfulness, productivity, and results in better overall sleep.  

In my last blog post, I discussed the importance of starting our day off right by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness can be achieved by developing an acute awareness of our body and our surroundings with a sense of appreciation and calm.  In this blog, I will be examining how we can also end our day with mindfulness. By following a consistent and relaxing evening routine we will be able to get more of what we all crave – sleep. 

Stress Causes Insomnia  

Stress is one of the top reasons people experience insomnia. Remember – if you are struggling with insomnia you are not alone.  Around 30% of the adult population report that insomnia is a major factor in their life. It only takes one night of worry to see how stress directly impacts sleep.  The inability to mentally let go makes it difficult, if not impossible, to physically and mentally relax.  

Personally, when I experience worry or stress, getting sleep becomes a challenge. Missing sleep then creates more of what initially made sleep impossible – stress. This cycle can become quite debilitating and problematic – which is why developing a calming bedtime routine is so important.  It signals to our mind and our body that it is time to unwind and slow down. This can gently ease us into slumber – as opposed to trying to forcefully prod ourselves to sleep.  

A few relaxation techniques can be just what we need – especially when we are highly stressed and agitated. Below, I have outlined a few of my favourite bedtime rituals for mindful rest.  

Mindful Bedtime 

If you need to work in the evening, make sure you have some wind-down time before bed to avoid feeling tense. 

Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, as this will make it harder to fall asleep. Instead, try drinking herbal teas, or a warm milky drink.  

It’s a good idea to have a warm bubble bath before bed, and not a heavy late-night meal or alcoholic nightcap –which can interfere with a sound sleep. This will in turn, lead to reduced anxiety the next day. 

Getting some fresh air and exercise may also help our body unwind. A stroll in the evening air, walking the dog, stretching, or yoga can help achieve the feelings of relaxation. 

Before Bed 

Before we tuck in, ensuring that our bedroom is a pleasant place to sleep in is vital – doing a quick tidy, even if its just putting things into piles can be especially helpful.  

Make a to-do list for the next day. This way, we can empty out our minds in readiness for sleep. 

It is also a good idea to lay out our clothes and pack a lunch so we are ready to go right away in the morning. All this preparation will undoubtedly help us relax and stop our minds from racing. 

Don’t listen to the news, or watch it less than an hour before bed. 

Ensure a calm sleeping environment, with no devices blinking and pinging to remind us of the stress of our work or social lives. And of course, we should try to avoid using electronic devices just before bedtime.  

Make sure the bedroom is as dark apossible, with no LED display lights, as these will interfere with sleep patterns.  

What bedtime routines do you use to quiet yourself? 

I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Mindfulness Techniques for Mindful Mornings

Have you ever wondered what mindfulness really is? And why is it all of a sudden so popular?  In our speedy, technology-jammed society the need to find peace and calm has emerged.  The West has decided to look to the East for the solution to this issue. And what we found were practices called mindfulness that have endured for over 3,000 year.  We started to explore these ancient practices back in the ‘60s with the hippie movement.  Then in the ‘70s and ‘80s came the ‘New Age Movement’ which brought mindfulness into the mainstream.  What we have learned over the last fifty years is that modern medicine does not answer all of our questions about health and vitality. And that a lot of those questions can be solved with mindful techniques.

For me, mindfulness is about meditation.  If you follow me, you know that I have had a journey over many decades with anxiety. Like many, my anxiety affected not only my mind but my body and spirit as well.  My personal answer to anxiety came when I sought out solutions that dealt with my unconscious, repetitive thought patterns.  That treatment pulled me out of the dark pit of endless rumination and worry.  In order to maintain my sense of overall calm and control, I turn to a daily meditation practice.  It slows down my mind, replenishes my body, and my soul feels in tune with my higher purpose.

More Than Just Meditation

I have come to realize that mindfulness however, is any practice or approach that slows life down. One that enables you to focus on the present, and makes you aware of everything in the now.  It is about bringing your attention away from the past, regretting or rewriting your history. And prevents you from worrying about the future.  It turns your focus to the here and now.  And in that state of being, in the beautiful present moment, you can feel connected to all things but concerned about nothing.  It is amazingly paradoxical.

So what would be a good way to start the day mindfully?  After some research and a lot of trial and error, I have come up with some helpful hints.  With the intention of full disclosure, I will say that I am still working towards implementing these habits into my daily routine and not to the point of where I have mastered them.

Mindfulness Techniques

  1. To set up your day mindfully, do not leave the house in the morning hungry.  The nagging feeling of hunger will draw your attention away from the present moment.
  2. With the goal now to have breakfast, it is important to work time into your morning to prepare it. There are a lot of things you can do the night before to make this job a lot easier.  Soaking oats the night before, or preparing a breakfast sandwich, which just needs warmed up, are good options.
  3. Set a place at the table to eat your breakfast free from distractions like TV, radio, phone, tablet or computer. Take the time to eat the food slowly. Taste the different flavours and savour the moment.  Eating on the run is bad for both digestion and mental state.  It is also good to know that slow release foods like oatmeal can help you stay calm and energised throughout the morning.
  4. And lastly, clear the table before your leave. That way you avoid mess anxiety when you get home.

I am growing into my mindful mornings habits, after years of running out the door without regard or respect to how I was setting myself up for a day of feeling chased and frazzled.  How do you start your day?  Are you setting yourself up for a day of centeredness?  I invite you to join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen