I mentioned in my Coronavirus Mental Health Tips that having a routine can really help with anxiety and stress, especially when so many other things have been thrown up in the air.
I’ll be the first to admit, however, that my morning routine is utterly and completely non-existent. I might do a post on my ideal morning routine, but for now my morning tend to start at about 12pm or so when I finally surface from broken sleep to cries of “oh my God it’s alive!” and “So you decided to get up then?”.
My evenings, in contrast, are so structured and nailed down that I could do them in my sleep. I’ve had an evening routine for ages, but Coronavirus has just made a relaxing and chilled out pre-bed routine so much more essential.
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Reduced Phone Time
I say reduced phone time because I am utterly appalling at actually putting the damn thing away.
The blue light emitted from our phones has been proven to prohibit Melanin production. Melanin is the hormone that basically tells your body it’s time to go to sleep. Can you see why mobile phone usage before bed can be an issue? I do try to reduce the time I spend on my phone after 9pm if I can, and I have a blue light filter which activates upon sundown.
During lockdown I’ve replaced my evening Instagram scrolls by working on my blanket kit from WeAreKnitters.com. The repetitive nature of the pattern really seems to be helping me wind down before sleep. Plus it’s really satisfying to see it build up and grow every night.
My skin was the utter bane of my life for SO long that now I’ve found a routine that works for me I am religious in sticking to it. I use a La Roche-Posay cleanser and moisturiser every morning and night, as I’ve found their products work so well for really sensitive, acne prone skin. Cleansing my face with a warm flannel just feels so luxurious and pampering, like I’m having a facial every night.
I face mask every second or third night (depending on when I remember or can be bothered), usually using the L’Oreal Clay Masks. My favourites are the pinky-red Brightening one and the Yellow Illuminating one. I can literally see a difference to my skin the second I use these guys. My holy grail products.
I exfoliate only when my skin feels like it needs a little pick me up. I was a chronic over-exfoliater before, but I have learned my lesson. I think.
This luscious self-care just feels so wonderful, and its a brilliant way to pamper myself before bed.
I’m not going to lie, before my daily walks became an essential, the gentle asanas and pranayama I did before bed was the only time I really moved my body prior to lockdown.
Which is probably why I enjoy it so much.
The number of stretches, and the stretches themselves, tends to vary, but I always finish in Child’s Pose. It’s such a great pose for opening up the lower back and really teaches the body to breathe deeply and properly.
A Little Light Reading
I love reading. It’s a habit I fall in and out of, but reading before bed is one of the best ways to chill out and wind down before bed.
I do love reading novels and as an aspiring writer it is really beneficial to read as voraciously and widely as possible. I cannot read novels before bed. My brain goes into overdrive, my imagination runs wild, and the dreams I have are usually some of the weirdest and most wonderful freaky moments ever.
Great for coming up with stories. Not conducive to a good night’s sleep.
Instead my before bed reading tends to be either a chill magazine or a self-improvement book My current read is Rebecca Black’s Light is the New Black, all about becoming who you are and finding your soul’s calling. Very woo, but I actually love all things woo and spiritual, and now I’m embracing it.
I am 100% that my nightly meditation practice is the main reason I have not slipped into a major depressive episode in all this. Changes to my routine have always has a massive effect on my mental health, but practising mindfulness and meditation for ten minutes before bed has really helped to keep me on the straight and narrow.
I am the Queen of Overthinking and spiralling into anxious and catastrophic thinking. It’s part of the reason I try to keep myself busy. My daily Headspace practice has taught me how to catch myself at the beginning of this process, note that it’s happening, and then just let it go.
I really recommend the Headspace app if you’re new to meditation. Come be my buddy and meditate with me. If, however, you can’t afford the membership or you just don’t want to spend that money, you can find plenty of brilliant guided meditations on YouTube and online.
Usually if I follow this pattern and routine every night, I can guarantee I’ll drift off to sleep pretty quickly.
I’ll admit, though, that during the lockdown I have been struggling with sleep. I’ll drift off, but I wake frequently though the night and sometimes struggle to get back to sleep. I know broken or poor quality sleep is something a lot of people have been struggling with, however, and as time has gone on and I’ve become more used to the new normal, my sleep is starting to improve again.
I hope this has been helpful as a general guide to what an established evening routine can look like. Come see me on Instagram, and let me know what your evening routine looks like, whether you’ve just developed it or your routine is as established as the seasons.