Sometimes relaxation is a choice and it is a very important one. We have to select moments in the day to slow both the mind and body down. Some of my favourite ways to relax are –
Wild swimming – after the initial shock of the cold water, it becomes an extremely calming practise. Just make sure you have a hot flask and lots of layers for when you get out (a hat is good for Autumn and Winter). I like to go with friends or family, it makes it more enjoyable for me and I tend to stay in longer when I have some company.
Going for a good massage – I was treated to a full body muscle release at Chamomile Sanctuary recently and it was just what the Doc ordered. I am also amazed at how much work has gone into ensuring the salon is incredibly clean and safe. I missed massages so much during lockdown. I would often make deals at home to get one, sometimes the Hubs, other times the kids. The kids actually find it a really fun game playing ‘spa’. I have trained them well 🙂
Trail running – this is more for the relaxation of the mind as the hills always hurt my body a little but it is so worth it for the mindfulness at the top. Nature heals as do stunning views, which make the hills worth it (I really dislike running up hills).
A healthy bedtime routine is really important to me these days. I love getting the kids involved too. We enjoy a bath at night and I often put some essential oils in it. Sometimes we do a face mask, which both kids love. Of course there are nights I sneak into the bath myself without them, taking a good book or simply my thoughts.
Earlier this year, I was kindly gifted products from Scentered. Scentered was created to meet the demands of eco-conscious consumers hungry for natural, portable aromatherapy and essential oil solutions to help them mindfully transition their moods, thoughts and emotions from moment to moment on demand throughout their everyday journey. Their balms smell incredible and the kids and I enjoy rubbing them on our pulse points.
We used the sleep easy balm which I have since got as gifts for friends who are struggling to sleep at night and perhaps feeling a bit of 2020 anxiety. I was also kindly gifted a small travel size de-stress balm. I keep the balms next to my bed, beside my journal and books.
I was also kindly sent the much talked about Positive Planner.
I often say, if you can’t talk it out then writing it out is the next best thing. In fact, sometimes writing it down is even better. As I have slowly put myself back together again after a very challenging mental illness at the start of the year, this journal has been fantastic. It has a section for daily intentions to give you focus for the day, even if that is just a small win. It also has evening reflections. Sometimes it can be really useful to keep a mood journal to see how far you have come. It is also good to look for patterns and spot what works best for our wellbeing eg the runners high, keeping tabs on hormones and potential triggers. The journal also has pages to practise gratitude, do some mindful colouring, write letters to yourself and let things go. I really love the way it is all laid out.
I try my best to keep the screens away at night (sometimes I get sucked in). Setting boundaries is helpful and it is good to use ‘I don’t’ over ‘I can’t’. Examples –
‘I don’t look at any screens past 730pm.’
‘I don’t drink alchol after 9pm’.
‘I don’t check my emails after 6pm.’
‘I don’t eat past 7pm.’
It’s about knowing what works best for you. Sometimes that involves a bit of trial and error. Recently I have been trying the 16/8 method where I stop eating earlier at night and allow my body 16 hours with no food. Whilst that won’t always be practical, I enjoy the feeling of giving my body a rest.
If you get into bed and the mind is still noisy, that is often a sign that your evening routine hasn’t been great. I find that the days I have exercised and protected my night time routine, it is easier for me to drift off into a deep sleep.
Be kind to yourself. You got this.