I started writing this intro about when and why my panic started setting in 1-2 weeks ago, but that just increases my own and all of your anxiety and at this point–we all know what is going on. Let’s be honest. It’s a scary scary time.
Last weekend I could not sleep. Maybe 2-3 hours a night because my mind was racing.
Well guess what one of the most important needs are when it comes to staying healthy and fighting illness? Sleep.
So I had to change things dramatically for myself this week, and I’ve been implementing this calming, anti-anxiety bedtime routine that is helping me sleep more peacefully.
I am now trying to stay away from the news and only getting key updates from Dan or the family or friends group text that I open. Knowing what is going on is important. I recommend checking the news early in the day if possible–and only check it once (or not at all)–so you have many hours before bed at night to let your mind get distracted by other things.
Hopefully you can implement any of these steps into your nighttime routine and catch more peaceful zzz’s.
Step 1: Tidy up our kitchen and living space
I detailed in this blog post the 12 changes I’ve made this past week during quarantine that tidying up before bed is something that helps my anxiety a lot. Having our home appear orderly calms my mind a lot. If I’m ever extremely tired or just need to relax, I’ll skip this step. And that is ok. The mess isn’t going anywhere.
Step 2: Make a cup of tea and fill my 30oz Yeti with ice water
I was sent this Stress Tea in a PR package a month or so ago. As an avid coffee drinker, I hadn’t opened it, and I am SO glad I have it for right now. They appear to be sold out of it but have other stress-relieving products. This is a combination is chamomile and lavender so I’m sure you can find similar options out there.
Step 3: Head upstairs to my room and light a candle
You may have noticed I’ve been partnering with The White Company for the last several months, and they have an incredible line of Sleep and relaxation products for home and bath. No this post is not sponsored at all. But man oh man do I love their products. I have the Spa Maroc candle that I light every night–it’s not overpowering and extremely calming. Dan always says it makes our room smell like a spa. I also use their body wash that is my faaavorite.
Step 4: Plug my phone in across the room. NOT next to my bed.
This is a very small change that is helping a lot. I cannot recommend it enough. I’ve always always always slept with my phone charging on my nightstand next to my bed. It was the last thing I’d look at before bed and the first thing I’d look at in the morning.
During times like these? F. That.
You don’t know how the bad scary anxiety-inducing news will find you but it will. I can try to avoid news headlines, but that doesn’t stop a random text message, Instagram post, Instagram story, or news alert popping up in my face no matter how hard I’m trying to ignore it. Social distance yourself from your phone at least an hour before bed. And I recommend doing it in the morning, as well. Trust.
Step 5: Take a Shower / Steam Shower /Bath with Your Favorite Calming Scent
Our master bathroom shower has a steam function–just like you’d experience in a steam room at your gym or spa. It’s pretty magical and relaxing. 5 minutes in there helps me unwind and relaxes my muscles. I’ll stand in there with my giant ice water and take deep breaths in and out and stretch my neck and shoulders.
I don’t always steam–a nice hot shower does the trick, as well. Or if you have a bath–I highly recommend that. Again, highly recommend the Sleep/Spa products from The White Company–many of which are now on sale. This Sleep bath soak is also heavenly.
Step 6: Go above and beyond with your teeth and skincare
I call this step a combination of take care of yourself + treat yo’self.
Given the self-quarantine state we’re all in, it’s going to be a while before I’m at the dentist again (pending no emergencies). Zoiks. So I’m making sure to brush frequently and floss every night.
And as for skincare… I have no doubt I will have gone through every bottle of product and face mask I own in the next couple of months. No better time to apply than after a steamy shower when your pores are all open. Slather it all on real good. I’ve been using Drunk Elephant serums and my overpriced treat to myself (hence treat yo’self) facial oil by Omoravizca Miracle Facial Oil. Makes my skin all dewy and smells great.
Step 7: Put on your favorite pajamas
Ohhh this photo was taken during a much more chill time just a week or so ago. (Right now my hair is frequently in an unwashed low pony but still drinking gallons of water a day courtesy of my Yeti.)
Once I’m done in the bathroom, I get into my favorite pajamas (also by The White Company–and again I promise this post is not sponsored, I just stand by the relaxing effects of their products). They’re an amazing gauzy cotton material–I’ve been living in them since I got them a few weeks ago. Dan got me these memory foam slippers for Christmas. I also live in those. They are two material items that right now bring me joy. Joy is good.
Step 8: Heat up a shoulder pack in the microwave and sit with it on my shoulders or over my eyes
I have a cheapo rice pack from CVS but I love this neck wrap from Anthro and might be ordering. I use it daily and my drug store version is starting to shed rice grains… they also have a migraine mask style! These can be heated or cooled. They’re amazing.
Step 9: Crawl into bed w/ said heated shoulder pack and read or watch a favorite comedy show
Next is 20-60 minutes of down time depending on how tired I am. We have very little time in our day without the boys, so the hours before bed are always a battle of “should I do something I enjoy for a little bit or simply go to sleep?”
If Charlie was sleeping better lately I’d probably watch more TV or read but he hasn’t been so the last couple of nights I’m choosing sleep. I bought season 2 of Friends on Amazon Prime because I miss it and don’t even need to hear it loudly to know what is going on in any episode because I know it all by heart. It’s my happy show. Find a happy show if you don’t have one. I’ll make a list of my favorites.
Step 9: Meditation App
I downloaded the app Headspace and am now doing the Unwind routine before going to bed. I unfortunately DO need my phone for this so I quickly grab the phone and open the app, then as soon as I’m done, the phone goes back across the room.
Step 10: Sleep
Hopefully by now I am calmer and ready for bed. If not, I’ll fall asleep to Friends.
If you are still struggling to catch your zzz’s, I recommend one of my favorite tricks that I first started using when I was freezing and wet sleeping on a cot in a monastery halfway up a mountain in Central China (following an 8-hour hike). VISUALIZATION. Visualize yourself somewhere else. A happy, calm time in your life. Whether that’s a beach vacation you’ve taken or snuggling a loved one or pet. In that moment on that cot, I remembered calming myself and falling asleep because I was picturing myself in my own bed at home with Tucker and Fiona. Most of us are lucky to already be in our own beds–thank god. But if you’d rather recall a fun vacation or some other time when things were normal… do that. It will help calm the current worry.
I also recommend sleeping with windows open if you can. Fresh air does wonders.
A sound machine can help drown out noise and unwanted thoughts.
Any other tips from my fellow anxious readers? Share in the comments. If you’re struggling, know others are too. We can all help one another.