If I’m stressed, a good night’s sleep is always the first to go. Shoulder tension, subconscious teeth grinding and a surge of redundant thoughts (also known as: Brain chatter) are just a few friends that come to the slumber party after a big week. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt after building a career for a few years now, it's this: Relaxing and learning how to unwind is my responsibility. Ouch. Because truth be told, deadlines, a full inbox and life-admin aren’t going anywhere.
We know that sleep is crucial for balanced living, so it’s worth enlisting the help of a fail-proof regimen that helps you relax despite the day you've had. Another thing I've learnt as of late, is that preparing for bed is so much more than turning off the lights. It takes time. My body likes patterns, so going through a regular routine automatically triggers my mind, and lets it know that it’s time to chill. Scroll on for my tried-and-tested routine.
STEP 1: CREATE A STEAM ROOM
After a big day, I like to dash straight into the shower (unfortunately, my apartment doesn’t have a bath). There’s something almost poetic about washing the day away. I turn off all the lights and light a lavender-scented candle to start the relaxation process. After a few minutes, I’ve created my own (and free) steam room.
Research has shown that lavender has positive results in inducing sleep. By burning it with steam your sense of smell will start to become aware that the day is over, and it's time to relax.
STEP 2: MASSAGE OUT ANY TENSION POINTS
After a shower, I take time out to look after my skin. First, I start with my face regimen, and move on to the rest of my body. At the moment I’ve found that Aesop’s Breathless Body Oil ($37) paired with Bastide's Corps A Corps Body Cream ($70) is the perfect formula for soothed, glowing skin—particularly as winter has a harsh, drying effect. Next, I take a jade roller and massage out any tension point on my face. I tend to hold stress here, so I focus on my temples and jaw. I also know where my shoulders hold tension so I press on these points for a few seconds.
STEP 3: UNWIND IN YOUR OWN WAY
There’s a lot of advice out there about not looking at blue light (read: tech devices) at night. But the truth is, I read a lot for my job, so watching Seinfeld on Stan is actually a really enjoyable experience. I suggest doing what you feel like, as opposed to what you should but leaving enough time to turn of devices just before bed.
STEP 4: TRIGGER THE SENSES
Sense play a big role in helping you sleep. Researchers believe this is due to how we evolved and needing to stay safe. Sound and light tell our body what to do. So, around one-hour before, I turn out all the lights and burn my favourite diffuser to set the mood.
STEP 5: MEDITATE RIGHT BEFORE BED
For anyone who knows me, I love mindfulness meditation. A couple of months ago, I was suffering from severe sleeplessness and took a class on it—and I’ve got to say it was life changing. It took me weeks feel any benefits, but once I learnt the proper techniques, I’ve been hooked. There’s also a lot of free resource out there that teach you how to relax your body and learn to relax your breath. As stress often outworks itself in physical tension, you can learn to relax each part of your body through guided meditation. Warning: Some of the resource is a little cliché with the rainforest sounds, and weird talking, but if you can ignore that, you’ll definitely find some benefit.