As we shared in our 6 Natural Ways to Fall Asleep blog post, developing a repeatable, enjoyable nightly bedtime routine that enables you to lower your stress and anxiety levels is an excellent way to battle insomnia by becoming more relaxed. That said, getting yourself ready for bed is like cramming for a final exam. It’s helpful, but putting in more effort in advance will make your last-minute preparations even more effective.
That means finding ways to reduce your stress levels throughout the day so you’re more relaxed at night. At Rev, we know that’s easier said than done, especially with all the demands of work, family, and life in general. To help you find creative ways to unwind during the day so you have a head start on your bedtime routine, here are 5 natural ways to relax:
Spend less time on Facebook if it makes you feel anxious, envious, or insecure
Facebook is a great place to reconnect with old friends and stay in touch with family. However, we all have those folks in our network who like nothing more than to fire people up with controversial comments or content. How many times have you scrolled the comments on a post from a company, celebrity, or media outlet you follow and gotten instantly irritated by something someone said? Instead of commenting back or letting the opinions of others get you down, acquaint yourself with three of Facebook’s most powerful features “Snooze for 30 days,” “Unfollow,” and “Hide.” You’ll find the first two options by clicking on the three dots that appear to the right of any post made by someone in your network. The “Hide” function is for people you’re not connected with but who are either friends with the same person you are or follow the same page you like. The next time that person makes a comment that makes you angry, click on their name, and you’ll see the “Hide” feature. Click on that, and you no longer see their inflammatory comments. If you still find yourself feeling stressed or anxious when you’re on Facebook, or any other social media platform, for that matter, find something else to do with your time, like read a book or go for a walk.
Spend less time on news sites that make you angry, fearful, or frustrated
These days, just about every news-focused TV station, radio station, or website veers to one side of the political spectrum or the other. We’re not judging this reality, and we don’t care which side you prefer. Whether you watch CNN or Fox News, it’s important to remember that the number one priority of every news outlet is to attract viewers. One of the most effective ways to achieve this goal is to stir your emotions with sensational headlines. Don’t get sucked into the latest “breaking news,” “evolving situation,” or “shocking development.” “CannaMom” Barb Van Hoosen wholeheartedly agrees with this suggestion: “At the height of the pandemic, for example, I had to be mindful about limiting my time on reading news reports because it was adding to my anxiety. I chose small, digestible pieces of reputable information, then would move on to other things like reading for fun or watching a comedy routine. That helped clear my mind of the anxious thoughts I was struggling with at bedtime because it acted as a filter of sorts.”
Take charge of your schedule with more effective time management
There’s a difference between busy and being productive. If you find yourself at the end of each day wondering where your time went, you owe it to yourself to find out. Get disciplined about organizing your tasks each day, crossing them off your list, and noting how much time you spent on them. There are some great time tracking tools out there that will show you where every minute of each day goes so you can determine if you’re as busy as you think you are or if you need to be more focused. Social media, stock quotes, fantasy sports leagues, texting with friends – we all have distractions that stop us from getting things done as quickly as we’d like. Identify the bad habits that are sabotaging your productivity and make a plan to be more efficient and purposeful with your time. You’ll feel more in charge of your day and less stressed when you begin your bedtime routine.
Schedule time for hobbies or activities that make you happy
Unlike distractions that merely waste time, hobbies are meaningful investments of time in yourself and your happiness. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, give yourself blocks of time during the week where you’re focused 100% on something you enjoy – gardening, chipping golf balls in your backyard, indulging in a cup of coffee, listening to music, or a favorite podcast. Whatever it is that gives you that luxurious feeling of doing something just for you, add it into your schedule like a work project or family commitment. Barb the CannaMom has more advice on this idea: “On my days off, I might even set an alarm on my phone that reads, ‘Build Lego set’ or something similar so that I remember to take time for a fun activity (in this case with my child, although I’m not too old for Legos by myself!). Overall, though, I try to find a balance between being organized and feeling relaxed. I give myself grace to just rest on days that I need to recharge, even if my calendar or alarm reminders say otherwise.”
Engage in vigorous exercise for fun, stress relief, and your overall health
Whether you work out at home or in a gym, on a bike or in a pool, exercise is one of the purest and most effective ways to manage stress and make yourself naturally tired at the end of the day. Pushing yourself feels good physically and gives you a feeling of accomplishment that puts you in a more positive frame of mind. Regular exercise is also a proven way to lower your blood pressure which will help you feel better in every way.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try making some of these changes the moment you wake up each morning. The more in charge you feel of your time and your physical and mental health, the more relaxed you’ll feel when you crawl into bed. If you’d like to speak with one of our patient advocates about your challenges with stress and anxiety, please CLICK HERE to schedule a virtual consultation.