1) Caffeine-free past 4 pm
The first way I start to wind down for the evening is by cutting out all caffeine past 4 pm. I’ve been doing this for about a year now after realizing that tea before bed made getting to sleep more of a challenge. I don’t know whether 4 pm is the recommended time to cut out caffeine but it seems to work for me.
But what do you drink instead? you may be wondering. There are plenty of caffeine-free drinks to enjoy: hot elder flower, Rooibos tea (naturally decaffeinated), herbal tea, and warm milk with honey are just a few off the top of my head.
2) Have a hot shower and get into PJs
One of my favourite things to do when I’m winding down for the evening is to have a long, hot shower and then get into some cozy clothes. Personally I’ve always preferred having a shower in the evening because it’s less rushed and hectic. In the morning there always seems to be too much to do and too little time!
Actress Cameron Diaz is also an advocate for an evening shower. In her wonderful book The Body Book which is all about health and nutrition, she says something along the lines of always wanting to be clean before getting in bed because she wants it to just be her between the sheets. When you think about how many things and people you come into contact with during a day, it makes sense to have a good clean off before bed!
3) Put on cozy lighting
I find that having cozy lighting is one of the best ways to relax and unwind in the evening. Candles, lamps and fairy lights are my go to sources of light for a chilled night in at home. After spending my day under harsh, artificial light (at work and on my commute) the first thing I do when I get home is turn on some warm lights. Not only does it give your eyes a rest, but it also acts as a reminder that I’ve left work behind and it’s now time to start winding down.
4) Do a relaxing yoga session
Just so you know, I’m by no means a pro when it comes to yoga. I’ve only been doing it for about a year now and mostly do it at home with a YouTube video to guide me. I’m about as inflexible as you can be and still I enjoy it immensely.
The great thing about yoga, I’ve found, is that not only does it physically relax your body and give you a chance to stretch out tired muscles, but it also does wonders for relaxing your mind. When all you’ve got to focus on for 20 minutes or so is moving your body, it’s pretty hard to focus on anything else. For me, with an annoying tendency to overthink things, this time is absolute bliss.
If you’re thinking of giving yoga a try, I’d highly recommend the YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene. She posts regular videos on yoga for any mood (stressed, sad, anxious, angry) and any purpose (relaxation, stretching, waking up) and guides you through it brilliantly.
5) Watch a film or series with a hot drink
Watching a good film or tv series is one of my favourite things to do when I want to relax. In the evening there’s few things I enjoy doing more than making myself a (de-caffeinated) hot drink, snuggling up on the sofa or in bed, and losing myself in a good film or episode.
I like to think of myself as a purposeful watcher when it comes to films and series. Rather than bingeing on something I don’t really enjoy, I set aside a chunk of time (usually between 40 minutes and 1 hour) to watch something that I’m going to really love.
6) Put your phone on silent
Once I actually get into bed, I have a strict rule that my phone goes on silent. I make sure that I’ve responded to any messages and then I put my phone away and don’t check it until the next day. I know it can be tempting to just check it one last time in case someone’s messaged you and it’s really urgent (it hardly ever is) but I’ve found that getting into a routine of making the bedroom a phone-free environment goes a long way in helping me get to sleep more easily at night.
7) Listen to relaxing music
But you just said that the bedroom should be a phone-free environment and I listen to music on my phone? Okay so there’s a loophole to that rule. If you have no other ways of listening to music then use your phone but still try and avoid scrolling through social media or texting because the blue backlight sends a signal to our brain that it’s time to wake up not go to sleep!
I love listening to nature sounds before bed, especially now that I’m living in noisy Hong Kong now, a city that truly never seems to sleep! The sounds of crickets, birds or thunder, is great for getting me relaxed and ready for bed.
8) Write in your journal
If you read my blog post on keeping a journal, you’ll know that I keep two journals, a regular journal for working through emotional stuff, and a gratitude journal for recording the things that I’m thankful for that day. Without fail (or hardly ever) I fill out my gratitude journal, The Five Minute Journal, and am filled with a lovely warm sense of abundance as I reflect on the good things that have happened that day.
But what if you’ve had a really bad day? I get that sometimes and yet there’s always something you can find to be grateful for. Maybe the weather was lovely or you had a good night’s sleep or a tasty dinner. I find that there is always something that has made me smile that day.
9) Read in bed for 30 minutes
I’m a massive book worm so reading has never been a chore for me. If you’re not into reading, I’d still highly recommend having something to read before bed. It doesn’t have to be fiction either. Some of my favourite books recently have been non-fiction!
The reason I think reading before bed is so good is that not only does it make you sleepy meaning dropping off for the night is a whole lot easier, but I find that it also helps to quieten my mind. If I’m worried about something and find that it is constantly going round a round my head, getting into a good book can be the perfect cure!
10) Squeeze in a quick pamper
The last thing I do before bed every night is do a simple pamper routine which I’ve found is the perfect end to the day. I put on some lip balm and a bit of hand cream and then not only do I squeeze in a bit of self-care before bed, but I get to drift off with a lovely scent in the air (I’d recommend a relaxing aroma like lavender or coconut)
– Tiger Lily –