Updated: Sep 20, 2019
"Self-care" is a term that’s been bandied around by self-help gurus for decades. A simple enough concept, the principle being that we intuitively take care of ourselves by actively seeking out strategies that will help us to improve and safe-guard our physical, mental and emotional well-being. By all appearances this should be straightforward, after all it's pretty logical that in order to be productive in our daily lives it's necessary to step back and refuel at times. With our increasingly pressurised and hectic lifestyles it‘s now more important than ever that we view the self-care process as a kind of obligatory maintenance rather than a guilty pleasure. This week on the Lifestyle Blog we present the first in our series of posts sharing the Glitter gang's favourite and most beneficial ways to unwind while sharing the steps you can take to achieve them.
Our Top Tips For Improving Sleep Hygiene:
Keep to a routine: Before climbing into bed, unwind with a warm shower, or bath. If bathing before bed isn’t for you then perhaps read or listen to a book instead. Audible is a great way to catch up with the latest bestsellers and makes an excellent alternative to reading when your eyes are tired from a long day spent on a computer screen. Free to download to your device, you can then subscribe for a monthly fee of £7.99, payable after 30 days, for which you receive a credit to trade for any book currently listed in the audible library (you also get your first book for free, and trust me there's a wonderful selection!)
Keep a gratitude journal:
Too often we slip into the habit of obsessing about those things we're longing for rather than considering and appreciating what we do have. Let's be clear, giving thanks for the positivity in your life isn’t an exercise that involves comparing oneself to those less fortunate. What it does mean is taking note of the little things that make you smile then writing them down at the end of each day. If you‘re feeling tired and down in the dumps looking for the good can be challenging I know, but trust me, we can always find something. For example, perhaps it's the way the sun streams through the shutters in the morning, the joke you shared with your colleague while standing at the water cooler this morning, or maybe it’s the dessert you had tonight, there are gems all around us, we just need to open our eyes and hearts to see them.
De-clutter and beautify your nest:
My pet hate is finding clothing, that should be in a basket, or in the closet, abandoned on the floor or left scattered around the bedroom instead. It's not that I'm obsessively tidy (easy there Mrs Hinch, this girl doesn't have time or enough patience to be challenging your crown), I simply become irritable and claustrophobic if my sleeping space isn't reasonably clear from clutter. From my own experience I know it isn't easy to be tidy at all times, as admittedly most of us don't live in palatial homes with help on hand 24/7, so instead we learn to strategise:
Dressing tables: should be free from dust and arranged with the minimum of clutter. Quick tip: No time for polishing? No excuses! Non-perfumed baby wipes are a great way to clean surfaces.
Hoarding books: We love books, but they attract dust. Make sure you keep them clean and only have the one you're currently reading on the nightstand.
Pack away paperwork: This involves clearing away anything that could potentially cause you angst, i.e. bills and work-related documents. Put them in a folder and place them somewhere you can’t easily get to in the hours when you need to wind down.
Dispose of rubbish: Stop hanging onto old papers and magazines that you'll never look at again. As a keen reader and blogger there‘s been countless times when I've spotted an article that looks interesting and hoarded it, then days later it's still sitting there, unread. Unfortunately it doesn't stop there! I love fancy packaging as much as the next girl, but I honestly don't have the space to hang onto last year’s empty perfume bottles (no matter how pretty), nor half a dozen dried up nail varnishes. So, be firm with yourself and put old cosmetics in the recycling bin, and gift, sell or donate those you no longer want.
Colour scheme: Be careful with your colour scheme. Your sleep space should be a sanctuary, so it makes sense for you to choose visuals and materials to promote a calm ambiance that helps you to chill-out and soothe away the day's more stressful moments. When decorating a bedroom choose cool shades to promote tranquillity rather than reds, oranges and purples, which in large spaces have been shown to raise blood pressure rather than promote those healing vibes. If the prospect of a calming, soft lavender is not for you, why not choose from a blue pallet? grey-blue is very on-trend this season, popular for its relaxing properties, especially when complemented by white. Whichever you choose, it's worthwhile investing in some tester pots first, then applying them to a surface and seeing which one you like best.
Comfort: Scented candles (Yankee Candle's Rainbow Cookie will always be my favourite), and plush cushions are among the Glitter team's most lusted after when transforming a sleep-space into a paradise (speaking of which, I now want to actually live in Brissi Notting Hill - they have the loveliest selection of soft furnishings!)
Cut down on the caffeine: Hmmm yes, sadly this does include chocolate and energy drinks! "But I need my coffee-bean fix" you cry, believing that you can't function without it. Well, if experts are to be believed, by consuming large amounts of caffeine to stay alert you may in fact, be hindering your long-term productivity. According to sleepeducation.org ”Caffeine can reduce the amount of deep sleep that you enjoy...Caffeine acts as an adenosine receptor antagonist. Adenosine is a substance in your body that promotes sleepiness. Caffeine blocks the adenosine receptor to keep you from feeling sleepy." The study goes on to recommend limiting your caffeine intake to between 300mg to maximum 400mg a day, stating that this is the equivalent to four cups (8-oz) of coffee.
De-caff all the way? If you really don't want to give up the hard stuff then consider cutting down or at very least start weaning yourself off with drinks with a lower content, such as de-caff. However, don't kid yourself, your caffeine intake may still be considerable as experts at healthline.com tell us that while the decaffeination process removes approximately 97% of caffeine, there is still about 7mg of caffeine in every 8-oz cup!
Blue lights: Close that lap top, put away the tablet and switch off your phone! The allure of your social media is too much? Then consider this information from the EMF Academy: "EMF radiation effects sleep because it has been known to reduce the melatonin that we produce" The Academy also sites a study from The Department Of Electronic Engineering At The University Of Melbourne, it states that EMF radiation is interpreted by the brain as a source of light and this exposure may "show the significance of disruption of melatonin due to exposure to weak EMFs, which may possibly lead to long-term health effects in humans"
Do try meditation: Having suffered from seasonal insomnia on and off for many years, I've tried everything to help myself, from spinning and boxing classes to black-out-blinds and lavender pillow sprays. Honestly, none of them worked for me. Why? Because being physically tired wasn't the problem, it was my mind that couldn't rest. Exhausted, I became increasingly desperate to find a solution. If you'd suggested meditation a few years ago I'd have dismissed it as a time-consuming navel-gazing activity too challenging to master, fortunately I was proven very wrong, and now thanks to my regime I usually enjoy a sound, uninterrupted night's sleep. If this is appealing you might want to consider a guided meditation:
Headspace: As mentioned earlier, keeping laptops and mobiles switched off or away from the bedroom is a must. Thankfully is it relatively easy to connect the Headspace App to Alexa or wirelessly to your sound system, so you can enjoy the benefits wherever you are in your home. Headspace encourages the listener to develop techniques aimed at relaxing both the mind and body. Prior to starting you're asked to make an account via email sign up or Facebook, you can then select your level of experience and the app will provide you with a choice of meditations that may be suitable for you. There is free access to several great features: you can discover ten sessions (to master the basics) a Breathe Mini (techniques to master breathing, three Sleepcasts and a variety of Sleep Music Sessions. If you find the app suits you, you can then unlock several more features with a monthly subscription of £9.99.
What Are The Benefits Of Self-care?
These days with increased use of technology in both our personal lives and the workplace, many of us find ourselves contactable twenty-four hours a day. Consequently, it's now too easy to send a late night SMS or get caught up in conversations with our friends and family around the world and living in different time zones. Sleep deprived nights, long hours, skipped meals and very little physical exercise are all helping us to bank health issues for later on down the line. By scheduling yourself in today for some regular self-care you're getting set to become unburdened from some of the physical, mental and emotional stress you've been carrying around. But let's be clear here, there are no quick fixes for fortifying yourself against life's trials and tribulations. Self-care is an ongoing practice that requires both commitment and discipline until it becomes a habit, and as you've seen there are countless ways to improve your sleeping patterns so be prepared to experiment with a few before finding what suits you, and remember, perseverance is key to feeling results.
*Please note, this post is based entirely on the writer's own experience and is intended to support and motivate those who have found themselves in a similar position.
If however, you are experiencing pro-longed periods of stress sadness and sleeplessness please speak to a professional.
**Disclaimer: No monies, gifting or promotion has been received from any third party in return for products included in the above post.