I’m a small-town California girl turned mental health therapist. Favorite things: babies (but don’t have my own!), comfy pants, and taking too many pictures. I'm all about realistic self-care, mental health for everyone, and personal growth even if you hate that phrase (cause I do!).
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Welcome back to the third post in the series about sleep! In the first two posts I covered physical things that help sleep like supplements, activity, etc; and then creating an environment that promotes good sleep. In this post, I want to talk about how to calm and prepare yourself internally to sleep well, since for many of us, it can be our minds that keep us awake.
Here are some tools that help your mind relax before bed. While these are especially helpful to do as part of your bedtime routine, they are also extremely beneficial to do at any time during the day. As always, you don’t need to go out and buy a fancy new journal or download an expensive app. Also, not every tool will work for everyone. If you try something and it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay! Just notice that, and move on. Keep it simple and don’t give up.
Journaling is a great way to get in touch with your thoughts and feelings, make some sense out of them, and reduce their impact. Or it can be a way to increase your focus on the positive.
Here are some journaling ideas for a bedtime (or anytime!) routine:
Progressive muscle relaxation is a practice of tensing then releasing the different muscles throughout your body. This can promote embodiment and relaxation. I like this simple overview and instruction on how to do it yourself.
Anywhere, anytime, you can use your imagination to do visualizations as another way to reduce stress, increase relaxation. Research shows this truly works!
You can visualize a safe place or happy memory, etc. You can do it on your own, or find an audio guide. Here’s a handy how to.
It’s important and helpful to try to incorporate focusing on all the senses you would experience. For example, if visualizing a beach, take time to imagine the sensation of sand between your toes, the sound of the waves lapping on the shore, the smell of the salty sea, the color of the sky or water, the feeling of warm sunshine on your skin, etc.
Meditation is simply a practice of noticing your thoughts and a tool to re-center what you want your focus to be.
There are tons of meditation guides out there, and I like this article’s overview of different meditation apps that offer guides for progressive muscle relaxation, visualizations, and meditation tools.
What’s important with meditation is to practice it without judgement (it’s okay if other thoughts pop into your brain, just notice them rather than being hard on yourself) and with sensitivity to trauma (it can feel unsafe for some people to close their eyes, or focusing on their body sensations can allow previous traumatic sensations to arise, so it may not work for everyone at any given time. Here’s a simple overview of meditation.
Deep breathing is very helpful for promoting the calming processes of your nervous system, especially if you deal with anxiety. What’s important is breathing from your belly and trying to slow down your breath. Here’s a helpful guide on a few different breathing techniques. If you want to really nerd out on this, google the central vagus nerve and deep breathing.
Take a next step:
Start by using this free night routine planner + get future tools.
by Kylie |
October 23, 2018
© Tend and Mend, Kylie Bennett 2019.
I'm Kylie. I’m a small-town California girl turned mental health therapist. Favorite things: babies (but don’t have my own!), comfy pants, and taking too many pictures. I'm all about realistic self-care, mental health for everyone, and personal growth even if you hate that phrase (cause I do!).