Stress is a natural human response. It’s how we protect ourselves from perceived threats and ensure that we’re aware of the world around us. However, stress can also be detrimental to our long-term health.
Chronic stress and anxiety lead to serious challenges with your quality of life. The more cortisol you have in your system all the time the more likely you are to struggle with things like heart conditions, anxiety, depression, and more.
Stress can even stop you from getting a good night’s sleep. Since sleep deprivation increases your chances of long-term ailments and heart conditions, it’s important to know how you can put your stress to bed before you snooze.
Here are some quick tips to help:
1. Write some things down. Writing things down can make a huge difference to your stress levels. Creating a to-do list for all the things you want to do tomorrow helps you to feel focused and organized, so you can relax. You don’t have to worry about forgetting the things you need to get done.
Consider journaling. Writing your thoughts and feelings down in a structured way is an excellent strategy if you’re worried about something. You can bring your stressful thoughts to the surface and then look for creative ways to overcome your challenges.
2. Forget the phone. Want to enjoy a healthy bedtime ritual? Reduce your reliance on your phone. Most of us are practically glued to our smartphones these days, but they’re not the best for our sleeping patterns.
Although you can put your phone on dark mode and night mode to reduce your exposure to blue light (which reduces melatonin production), just using your phone can be enough to keep you awake.
When you’re browsing through alerts and messages or checking out social media, you’re actively engaged in doing something, which means it’s harder to switch off. Your brain is overwhelmed by the promise of new experiences as you continue to scroll.
Instead, try to limit phone time to at least 30-60 minutes before bed and consider plugging it just beyond arm's reach so you're not tempted.
3. Enjoy a cup of warm tea and a good book. To replace your phone habit, why not try a light-hearted book? It’s best to avoid anything heavy, self-helpy, or that’s going to really grab your attention, as you’ll be tempted to stay awake and get to the next chapter. An old-school book stops you from focusing on bright screens when you’re trying to relax.
Combine your book with a delicious cup of caffeine-free tea. You can try tons of flavors, ranging from lavender tea, to chamomile, valerian, and more. There are plenty of blends out there custom made for those who struggle with stress and sleeping issues.
4. Enjoy a bath and some tunes. Having a night-time bath in some warm, sudsy water that smells like lavender could be the perfect way to unwind after a stressful day.
Warm baths are wonderfully soothing, and soaking helps to release some of the physical stress you’ve been holding in your body too. While you’re relaxing and soaking, give your mind something positive to focus on by turning on the tunes.
Try adding a cup of Epsom salts to your bath; studies show that the magnesium can help relax muscles set the tone for a good night of sleep.
Consider adding a few drops of a soothing essential oil to your bath: lavender, orange, and cedarwood are wonderful for promoting a good night's rest.
Sometimes, deafening silence, or the sound of your tap dripping isn’t relaxing. However, thanks to your smartphone and speakers, you can play virtually any calming, peaceful music you like while you’re in your tub. If you don’t feel like listening to music, you could try a guided meditation instead.
5. Focus on positives. Finally, as part of your night-time routine, make an effort to focus on something positive.
Keep a small notebook or journal next to your bed and create a habit of writing three to five things you're proud of, that went well (or better) for you, or validations you have for yourself.
Or, keep a running nightly list of 3-5 things for which you're grateful (they don't have to be big things... it could be as simple as the way the moonlight falls through your window, or the warm meal you enjoyed).
Your mind is only capable to thinking one thought at a time, so give yourself positive thoughts to focus on. This will help "change the channel: on a busy mind that wants to get stuck in worries and reduce the risk of your brain being filled with negative or stressful thoughts when you’re going to bed.
The next time you feel stressed at bedtime, try one of these tips and settle your mind and body for a good night’s rest!