Our Blog

Rituals and Rest

Monday, March 6th, 2023

by Melanie VanderPol-Bailey, MSW, CSW-PIP


We are beginning to notice a few small shifts amongst the piles of snow, letting us know that days are getting longer and spring will come.  While Winter can be a quieter time, many of you have full schedules that are packed with activities and the business of life.  Routine and evening rituals sound nice, but may not seem like they are realistic.  Or maybe the opposite is true for you; you feel stuck in a rut of the mundane, and find yourself a bit isolated and spending too much time being inactive or engaging in consuming behaviors that may not be healthy for you.     

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. 

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.  Several years 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.

Create time for good self care as you think about small shifts that may be beneficial to your evening and morning routines.  You may see a connection to a better night’s sleep and a brighter start to your day.

If you are struggling with self care or experiencing a challenging time of life, we are here to help. 

River Counseling Services in Platte, Sioux Falls Psychological Services, and Stronghold Counseling Services in Sioux Falls and in Yankton - meet you where you are, offering hope. That is our mission. You may schedule an appointment at the Platte office at 605-337-3444 or meet with one of our Sioux Falls or Yankton based therapists from your computer, smartphone, or in person at any of our clinics. To schedule an appointment, please call 605-334-2696.