I've been feeling a lot more inclined to chat about mental health issues on my blog at the moment as, if I'm honest, my own mental health has been pretty shitty for the past few weeks. There have been a few issues at work, which led to the nasty manager who was a bit of a bully getting fired. This was kind of fab as I felt as though a load had been taken off of my chest and I felt far less anxious for shifts. But, it has meant that my shifts have been upped to cover the shifts she would have been doing, and I have been struggling to deal with the thought of going to all of them. Also, when I moved house I moved much further away from my work, and walking & getting the bus there has made my anxiety a lot worse, especially after a scary bus journey on Saturday which led to my first panic attack in months. Not brill.
Anyhow, if you've been on my twitter recently you'll probably know all of this already and have seen that I'm a bit glum, so I'm really trying extra hard at the moment to do all the little (and large) things that help my anxiety lessen. The most important aspect of this is my bedtime routine. If I don't get enough sleep, waking up seems terrifying, and more importantly, being awake in the night stresses me out a ridiculous amount. Annoyingly, as I've been preparing to write this, my sleeping habits have worsened and even after a ten and a half hour long day at work yesterday I still woke up after about three hours' sleep and couldn't re-enter the land of nod.
However, I used to find getting to sleep much, much harder than I do nowadays, because I simply hadn't nailed down a proper routine, and I know that my sleep has been rubbish over the past few days because I haven't been sticking to my normal routine. Writing this post today is going to be a bit of a prompt for me to make sure that I'm not lazy with my routine this evening as I am on a finish at work, which means I'll get back fairly late, and not have masses of time to wind down in.
The physical routine
Winding down for me takes a bit of time, and a bit of effort, but it's totally worth it in my mind to get a good night's sleep. Changing out of my work or day clothes into my pajamas is the first stage in my routine, and it signals to my body that it's time to start chilling out. I'm no longer restrained by tight clothes, a bra (total freedom) or pants. #goals. I'm pretty picky with my pajamas, as I like to feel a little bit happier when I put them on. At the moment my total faves are my long sleeved Bambi waffle-textured PJs from Primark, as they feel a little bit like a onesie and are just so soft. I also like to pop on a pair of cosy fluffy bed socks to keep my tootsies happy.
Then comes the cleanse. I take my makeup off with my Garnier micellar water, and follow it up with my Liz Earle cleanser. Using the latter feels a little bit pamper-y and ensures that all of my makeup is 100% gone. Then, once I'm in bed I massage on my Korres overnight sleeping facial mask to ensure that my skin is all soft and hydrated.
If I can feel that my anxiety is really taking its toll on me, I'll have a nice long bath. A LUSH bath bomb, some Youtube videos in the background and a good body scrub always make me feel amazing as well as truly chilled out.
All of these combine to signal to my body that it's time to start slowing down. It takes a while for this to start settling in, but a good three weeks or so should be long enough for you to start feeling a little more relaxed and sleepy as you do these things.
The mental routine
In my opinion this is definitely more important than the physical one, but they do go hand in hand together very well. The first stage in this part of my routine is definitely to switch my laptop off. I'm guilty of being one of those people who finds it really really hard to switch off, and most days I would just work right up until I'm too tired to keep my eyes open anymore. This really isn't healthy, and I always find that the tiredness ebbs away into anxiety when I hop into bed because I haven't had that time to wind down. I now really do try to turn my laptop off at least an hour before I go to bed.
Now, this doesn't mean I hold a complete pre-bed technology ban because I'm just not that kind of gal. Watching a good ol' bit of Netflix under a cosy blanket is one of my favourite ways to wind down. It gives me a chance to do something a bit fun before bedtime and for my brain to stop whirring on my own thoughts and focus on the programme.
However, sometimes that still can't keep the anxious thoughts at bay. So, often I'll be curled up with my colouring book and favourite pencils, or a jigsaw puzzle to help distract me and give me something to focus on. I've been absolutely loving the whole mindfulness colouring trend, and it's something that I hope I'll continue to do a lot more of in the future.
Finally, when I settle into bed I don't attempt to go straight to sleep. This never works for me. I even end up getting anxious about the fact that I don't know how my body transitions from being awake to being asleep, and I wake myself up by being concerned that I've forgotten how to sleep. It's all a bit of a vicious cycle. So, I turn off the main light in our bedroom and switch to a lamp. This means the light is less harsh, but I'm not left in total darkness: something which still spooks me out. At the moment we have a globe lamp that my boyfriend has had from childhood, and I love it, but I SO want to get a Lumee lamp for Christmas. Their lamps can be set to gradually get darker and darker over a period of your choosing and in that way replicates a sunset and appeals to your body's natural rhythms.
Whilst the lamp is on I effectively read until I'm so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open, or focus on the book anymore. Reading transports me to an alternate realm, one in which my anxiety doesn't exist, and I'm not a girl feeling a bit low trying her best to get to sleep at a reasonable time. Instead, I'm in the book, following the characters along at a short distance.
I really hope this was helpful to see what I do to attempt to keep my anxiety away at nighttime. What do you do?