This month is mental health awareness month, and I wanted to start it off with something that has truly changed the game for me, which you can do as well, from the comfort of your own home.
Introducing, an evening routine.
You see, I used to struggle the most with my mental health at night. The second the light switch was turned off and I was left alone in the darkness, my thoughts came out to play. The what if's. The "oh you shouldn't have said it like that, they'll think you're stupid". The self-sabotaging. During the day I was able to distract myself from my anxieties but at night, the panics came out in full swing.
One thing that I put in place (amongst many things) was an evening routine. The logic behind it was that if I had a set routine to help prepare myself mentally for bed, by doing things that made me feel good and relaxed, I'd feel different compared to just jumping into bed straight from a busy day without any serious unwinding.
And it worked. The six-step ritual that I have has really helped me slow down from the evening, have some time to treat myself without the guilt, has significantly reduced any of those stress cyclones or thought tornadoes coming through my head as it hits the pillow, and helps me drift off to sleep with ease, rather than out of emotional exhaustion. I wanted to share it with you, because it's relatively simple, and something that you can try and create for yourself!
Step 1: Soak the day away
I am a BIG fan of Epsom bath salts. Not only can they save you from the dreaded DOMS if you've worked out that day, but they're brilliant for flushing out toxins, replenishing the body with minerals, and relieving stress in the mind and body. I use DrSalts+ 100% Epsom Bath Salts with Black Pepper*. Adding them to a steamy bath is the perfect relaxing ingredient to feel like you've been teleported to a spa.
Step 2: Cleanse the day away
I have never really been into skincare routines until I came across Liz Earle's naturally active cleanser*. With rosemary (eases stress), chamomile (anxiety relief), cocoa butter (brain health) and eucalyptus (breathing) essential oils it's the perfect cleanse for my face to initiate my evening routine. It's perfect for all skin types to apply and rinse off with a hot cloth.
Step 3: Ambience
I have a Lumie lamp* in my bedroom and I set that on it's a nice sunset setting rather than having any main lights on. It's much warmer and also means that once my evening routine is complete, I don't have to get out of bed to turn off the light. I personally find it much more relaxing than having a bright or cold light on in my bedroom, and again this is only used in my evening routine so it's signalling to my brain that this is time to switch off. I set my Lumie lamp to a 45-minute sunset with summer crickets playing - the perfect amount of time to complete my routine and when I'm ready drift off too.
Step 4: Lotions and potions
Sitting in bed having got into my pyjamas, the next step is to love my body and treat it with all the lovely lotions available. At the moment I use Lush Pink Peppermint foot lotion before putting fluffy bedsocks on, and then the Lush Sleepy body lotion on my arms and hands so that I can smell it throughout the night. The sleep body lotion is a mixture of lavender flower and oatmeal, again two perfect scents that are holistically proven to aid stress relief and relaxation.
Step 5: Lavender pillow spray
Because you can never have enough lavender in your evening routine if you suffer from anxiety or anxious thoughts at night. This was actually the product that started my evening routine being developed - so if you're starting out I recommend beginning here. A few lavender sprays of ThisWorks lavender spray* on your top pillow and top of your duvet is perfect for creating that relaxing atmosphere in bed. Lavender is again significantly proven in the holistic health world to help you relax fully, reduce anxiety and tension, is beneficial again for breathing and finally helps initiate a deep sleep, which is all that we want!
Step 6: Calm music
In the final step, when the lotions have been applied, the room smells of lavender and all the other essential oils, I've looked after my mind and body, I play some sleep music on the Calm app. I have the Dreamer track downloaded to my phone so that I can put it on aeroplane mode overnight, and set the app to go to sleep after 1 hour. I play the music softly and I personally find that the melody is enough for my brain to focus on, rather than focussing on the silence and filling it with thoughts. I usually drift off within 10-15 minutes, compared to not sleeping for hours without this routine.
To some, this might seem like an over the top reaction to getting into bed. For me, it's a ritual, dedicated to unwinding, switching off for the day, and allowing my mental headspace to relax rather than over evaluate if I did or didn't do something humiliating that day. It's taken a while to get to this point, but I've finally found my perfect six-step evening routine which ensures that every night I fall asleep relaxed, rather than staying awake stressed.
I hope this has inspired you to have a look at how you approach your bed and sleep at night, and perhaps given you an idea or two as to what you could add to your own ritual. Each of the links and products I've shared I would recommend to a loved one, so I truly hope they work wonders for you as they have me. As a disclaimer, everything with a * is an affiliate link. That means that I get a small commission off anything you buy through my blog. There's no extra cost to you at all, it's just a way for you to support the work I do with Live Well With Laura, and this means I can provide this content for you for free. Thank you so much if you do use one of my links!