by Melanie VanderPol-Bailey, MSW, CSW-PIP
Last week I wrote about our routines and the power they hold to either positively or negatively affect the flow of our days. Take a moment today to think about your current evening rituals and how they are or aren’t working for you. Consider the season of life as you set your intentions to what may be realistic. If your children are in sports, often your family dinners consist of popcorn and nachos. If you have babies, you may feel pulled to stick to a strict routine for the littles, but gear up for a bulk of chores after everyone else is fast asleep. If you are home alone, it may be easy to slide into a routine of consuming behaviors like overeating, abusing alcohol, or watching hours of mind-numbing shows. You may face challenges that get in the way of implementing a healthy evening ritual.
A common complaint for many is difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. If this is something you wrestle with you are not alone. Research suggests that as many as one in three Americans get less sleep than the average of 7 to 9 hours they should. Research also tells us that there is a connection between quality sleep and a good nightly routine. One of my favorite blogs comes from author Rachel Macy Stafford who writes The Hands Free Revolution. Not long ago she wrote a clever piece about what her PM self does to be kind to her AM self. Think about what that may look like in your life. It is easy to google bedtime rituals and find lots of suggestions. However, you need to pause and consider what is realistic and congruent for you, something no Google resource can provide. Be intentional about behaviors and activities that help you relax, unwind and create a morning that doesn’t leave you feeling you are swimming upstream against a strong current.
Here are some ideas:
Evening prep- Take 15-30 minutes to prepare for the next day. Whether it’s preparing lunches, programming the coffee pot, or laying out your outfit, these small preparations can set the stage for a great day.
Minimize or better yet turn off electronics an hour before bedtime. Blue light produced by our devices can confuse the brain, which links light to daytime, keeping your brain active when you want your brain to begin to calm down.
Engage in family rituals like quiet time for children before bed, a planned time for connecting with your partner, and so on.
Create a calming environment - dim lights, clean sheets, aromatherapy, comfortable pajamas, fans or white noise.
Engage in calming practices like prayer, reading a meditation or devotional, doing a bit of mindful meditation, participating in five minutes of gentle yoga, or sitting on your deck enjoying the evening sky.
I encourage you to create time for good self care as you think about small shifts that may be beneficial to your evening and morning routines.
At River Counseling and Sioux Falls Psychological Services we meet you where you are, offering hope. We can help you figure out how to start and end your day well. Sometimes that means dealing with the depression or anxiety or relationship problems you find yourself mired in. You may schedule an appointment with the Platte office at 605-337-3444, or meet with one of our Sioux Falls Psychological Services therapists from your own computer or smartphone. To schedule an appointment please call 605-334-2696.