It can be challenging to wind down after a long day. How often have you stayed up watching TV for too long? How often have you scrolled through Instagram until you couldn't feel your thumb anymore?
Doing all of these things waiting for sleep to come... waiting for tomorrow to come...
We can get so distracted. So mindless. So numb to the world around us. So numb to ourselves.
I've had to practice bringing my awareness back to the fact that all I have is the present moment. I've had to keep a close eye on making sure that what I'm doing before I go to sleep actually puts me in a calm state rather than a numb or frustrated mindset.
So I've developed some go-to self-care activities that help me wind down at night so that I'm not staring into a screen until 5 in the morning. I'm sharing them with you in hopes that you'll also find your way to self-love and deep rest.
1. Playing Music
I grew up in an extremely musical household. My entire family LOVES music. My dad and all of his siblings play instruments and sing. So as a kid there was hardly ever a moment when music wasn’t at the very least on in the background.
But when I went away to college and had roomates, I didn’t quite know what to do with my love for music. I ended up listening to what I wanted when I was in my car. But it totally shifted my energy. I didn’t even realize it until I moved back home and had the ability to end my day with music that made me feel good.
Now that I’ve been living with my husband for a few years, I still have to make time to play music that makes me feel good. He likes a wide range of music, but most of my favorites aren’t on his list. The things that he would want to listen to before bed are NOT the things I’d want to hear.
I've discovered ways around this so that I can still decompress and feel the energy of the music I love.
I’ll take a shower and play my music in the bathroom. The combination of the relaxing feeling and sound of running water along with the music is the most calming experience (especially if you’re not playing upbeat music. Depending on my mood I’ll pick soft romantic 90s R&B (actually… this is my go-to pretty much any time I want to feel happy), or I’ll go for soothing bossa nova. And I’ll just sync my phone to my bluetooth speaker that my husband actually got for me as a gift a while back.
I LOVE this thing. It’s withstood a lot of use and it’s still going strong even in a heavily steamy environment.
I find that if I don’t have music going, my mind will wander more often. I’ll be thinking about what I have to do tomorrow or how I forgot to take the clothes out of the washing machine or how I shouldn’t have spent so much time on Instagram…
Music will shift my energy so quickly. The lyrics, the melodies, the entire feeling of the song changes everything. I can go from being frustrated to calm in less than a minute.
Try it out for yourself. Find a nightly relaxing song. See how long that song will help you reach a calm and relaxing space. When the song gets boring for you, switch it up!
*Bonus tip: Shower at night. This eliminates the feeling of needing to rush. You can take your time… knowing that the only thing waiting for you is the rest of your nightly self-care routine and your amazing, cozy bed!
2. Lighting Candles
To me a shower (and a nightly self-care routine is not complete without candles. Life isn’t complete without candles. I was addicted to candles as a kid, but my mom would never let me light them. So when I finally got the ability to do it I went crazy with them. And I’ve been a candle advocate ever since. I even went through a phase of making my own.
Anyway… using candles to light your bathroom is so relaxing. Of course, be careful! Keep an eye out and don’t put them in any unsafe locations… But if you feel comfortable enough to light them and use them as your source of light while decompressing… I swear it’s worth it!
Something about the flickering light and the sound of the flame is soothing. If you can, try the candles with the wood wick. I love them. Sounds like you’ve got a huge fireplace in there with you. I find most of my wooden wick candles at Marshalls.
3. 5-30 Minutes of Yoga
Before bed, I like to pick anywhere from 2-6 restorative poses. I don’t try to adhere to any standards or do anything in a specific way. Most of the time, I don’t even use guided videos. I like to be completely in my own space. Listening to my body and connecting to my breath and my mind.
But if you do like guided night time yoga… check out this one. When I do use a guided practice before bed it’s usually this video. And although this next video isn’t dedicated to a night time practice, I like this one before bed as well.
After releasing the body’s tensions through yoga it feels heavenly to also release the tensions of the mind.
If you want help getting started with your journaling practice or you’re tired of writing the same thing in your journal day after day, only able to focus on the things that make you more frustrated, grab this amazing self-care journal that has activities, prompts, and meditations for your heart, mind, and soul.
Journaling is very much like what we talked about with music. The words you write have the power to shift your emotions. So when you’re journaling, hold an intention for yourself. Think about how you want to feel as you fall asleep. Think about how you want to feel when you wake up. And write from that place. Write about how you feel now that you’ve taken time for yourself. Write about any moment where you felt your energy move from the active nature of the day to the soothing feelings of rest and relaxation. Write from that energy.
Journaling always helps me refocus and find peace after a long day.
5. Comfy Pajamas
What you wear to sleep can change the quality of your rest.
I am not a sock person. If I go to sleep with socks on, my ability to sleep in a complete and comfortable way is GONE. It blows my mind that socks can make that much of a difference, but for me it happens every single time. So I’ve committed to only wearing what works for me when I sleep. No socks! And soft material. And fresh, soft sheets! It honestly changes the quality of your sleep.
Go on a pajama shopping spree. Find materials that make you feel like you’re at a spa. It will change your life.
6. Meditation App or Visualization
I’ve talked about this app before, but it’s seriously the best thing. It got me through some really stressful times. Helped me sleep when I thought I wouldn’t be able to close my eyes no matter what. So if you don’t want to think at all, and you just want to take in some positive energy and relaxing thoughts, get yourself this app. If you have a difficult time falling asleep, get this app.
I swear, there have only been a couple of times I made it all the way through these meditations in the past 5 years of using them.
But if you’re not in the mood for a guided meditation, bring your imagination out to play. I love to visualize before I go to sleep and before I get out of bed in the morning. In both instances I’ve been letting my mind create my future. I play a movie of what I’d love my life to look like. I don’t focus on timelines or goals or anything that sends me into stress-mode. I simply step into my dream life. And for the next 5-10 minutes (okay sometimes 30 minutes) I exist completely in that experience.
It’s as if I’ve made a vision board in my mind - but it's alive. I can move around in my vision board.
I can picture myself in the house of my dreams, with the people I love, doing things that make me happy. And then I fall asleep with a massive, silly grin on my face. It’s spectacular.
So if you’re going to try our visualizing before bed, I’d definitely suggest making a vision board first. Once you have one, you can then place yourself in the vision board and see what it would be like to live in it. Or… you can tell your inner-being that you want to know what its like to see a particular thing or do a particular thing.
Let your mind open up and watch the amazing pictures that come into focus for you.
Wishing you sweet dreams!
& yes, some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, which means I'd get commission if you purchase the item. But don't worry! I'm only suggesting these because I personally love them, and I genuinely think they'll be truly helpful to you.