Easy Nighttime Routine
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Two years ago, if you’d asked me about starting a routine of any sort, I probably would’ve laughed. I was a Type A perfectionist bordering on a workaholic, but as I got sucked deeper into the chaos of busyness, I quickly realized how easy it is to get stressed and burned out when you never set boundaries. There’s nothing rooting you, keeping you steady in the midst of life’s ebbs and flows.
So a few months ago, when a cocktail of chronic stress, seasonal affectedness disorder, and a bone-wearying need to go, go, go and please everybody all the time hit me hard, I knew I had to make a change. I was tired all the time — even when I’d had a full night’s sleep — constantly felt like I was on the verge of tears, had a headache almost every day, and I just wasn’t smiling like normal. I didn’t want to live like that. Who does?
I took a hard look at what I was doing, and one thing was clear: I wasn’t taking any time to do something that made me feel peaceful, calm, and helped my body wind down for bed. So rather than working on my laptop until my eyes couldn’t stay open any longer, or coming in late and watching reruns of The Office, I made these three small changes instead. And no, they didn’t make my life perfect (or cure me of chronic people-pleasing!), but they have helped my body and mind know when it’s time to wind down, unplug, and get ready to rest.
1. Epsom Salt + Essential Oil Soak
I look forward to an Epsom salt bath every day! Not only does it offer your body the chance to absorb magnesium, which you’re *probably* deficient in (we’ll talk more about that later), but it eases any aches and pains from working out, and can actually help relieve stress and anxiety by boosting the parts of your brain the produce “happy hormones” like serotonin. Plus, essential oils interact directly with the olfactory system (“nose to brain”), stimulating relaxation and releasing any anxiety you might be feeling from the day. My go-to oils for an evening soak? A blend of lavender oil to help with relaxation and sleep, peppermint oil for headaches and sore muscles, tea tree oil for gentle detoxification, and eucalyptus oil to reduce inflammation and promote healthy lung function.
2. Tulsi Ginger Tea + Honey
To be honest, I drink Tulsi ginger tea all day long. At least four cups a day. But there’s nothing I love more than curling up on the couch with a big cup of tea before I go to bed. The very act is soothing, and it’s the perfect opportunity to infuse mindfulness into an everyday action. Not to mention I just love the taste and the stress-busting, immune-boosting properties of Tulsi (also known as Holy Basil). Tulsi is an adaptogenic herb that’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. One of the most sacred plants in India and known as the “Queen of the Herbs,” Tulsi helps the body and mind adapt to stress and anxiety and restore balance in the body. The ginger is an added bonus; I can’t get enough of it, and it’s great for digestion and fighting inflammation. Add a spoonful of organic local honey and there’s no better - or easier - way to wrap up a busy day.
3. A Regular Bedtime
This one was hard for me; for the most part, I get to choose the hours I work, unless I’m playing a show, so for the majority of my career, I would work until I was ready to quit for the day, then sleep until I woke up. I should’ve felt rested and ready to take on every new (mid)morning, right? Wrong. I never felt like I’d gotten enough sleep, my brain was foggy and had difficulty processing anything, and my poor little Vata heart was subconsciously begging for some regularity, even though I didn’t know it at the time. But when I started going to bed at (roughly) the same time every night, and setting my alarm for the same time every morning, my brain and body intuitively knew when to wind down and when to wake up. I also started tracking my sleep cycles and patterns (the iPhone Bedtime function on the clock app does a wonderful job + it’s free), and make it a goal to stay as regular as possible.
I know, I said I implemented a three part nightly routine, but I couldn’t help myself! Unplugging - from phones, computers, and TV - at least thirty minutes before going to bed has helped train my brain to recognize screens as work time, increasing productivity during the day while helping me quiet down those thoughts that run a million miles an hour at night. Not to mention, the blue light put off by the screens disrupts your brain’s ability to restore itself through sleep. So as much as I enjoy scrolling through Instagram, breaking the habit of looking at adorable puppies, inspiring yogis, and my next road trip destination until well after midnight has dramatically improved my quality of sleep (and given me the chance to cuddle my own adorable puppy more often!).
Do you have a nightly routine? If so, what do you do to help get your body and brain ready for bed? If you don’t, why not? Do you think you could choose one act of self-care to make a routine every night? Let me know in the comments below!