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06.04.2020- Evening Relaxation Hacks

Monday, 6 April 2020


There's no doubt that the world is a very scary place at the moment, and it's completely natural to feel more anxious than normal given the degree of uncertainty which we're all facing, combined with some of the harrowing reporting of the crisis which we're seeing unfold in real time before our eyes on the news. Feeling overwhelmed is totally normal, especially as it's difficult to see an end in sight to the situation- but an end will come- and we have to be patient and kind to ourselves until then. Over the last few weeks, I've found that settling on a proper evening routine has really helped me to feel calm and relaxed as I head to bed- rather than stressed and worrying about a situation which is on the whole completely out of my hands. I know that everyone says it, but retaining a sense of structure at times like these really does help, as does not being too tough on yourself for having an entirely off day. So, in case it's helpful for anyone else- my evening routine is outlined here:

* Exercise- I've always been more of an evening exerciser than an early bird, particularly as it usually takes a good cup of tea before I'm able to do much in the morning! At the time of writing, the social distancing guidelines we have at the moment allow exercise alone or with a member of your household, so responsible running or walking is a great way to clear your head and get your blood pumping. I have been going out less frequently than usual (only a couple of times a week at the moment), but have also been supplementing my running with some indoor and garden based workouts, from resistance training to yoga. I've also found it really tough to go from being such a regular walker to essentially doing nothing, but I know that this will only be temporary, and I'm very lucky to have a garden to be able to get out in.

* Shower/bath- With an unlimited supply of time, it's tempting to have a bath every night, but so far it's one which I've managed to avoid in favour of a shower, primarily because it gives me a second burst of energy ahead of my evening meal. I'm also using this moment as a great excuse to rummage through my stash of toiletries and use them up.

* Dinner-  As I touched on in my last post, one of the upsides of not having to commute at the moment is that I'm able to dedicate more time to preparing fresh meals in the evening. I've also really loved leafing through all of my recipe books to get inspired and there's no doubt that we're all getting more creative in the kitchen, as well as being much more mindful of where we source our ingredients from and wasting less.

* Television- I've been limiting my news intake to once a day, usually in the morning or at lunchtime, as I found that tuning in to anything later meant that the situation would stay on my mind as I was winding down for the day.  Of an evening I've been tuning in to favourites which have really helped to take my mind off of things, including the wonderfully heartwarming The Repair Shop on BBC One, as well as old classics like Pride and Prejudice and things to make me laugh out loud like Only Fools and Horses. Last week, I also loved the first National Theatre at Home broadcast of One Man, Two Guvnors, a show which I saw three times when it was on and which had me roaring with laughter from my sofa.

* Bedtime- here we're talking minimal phone use- I'll cursorily have a look at WhatsApp but that's about it in terms of social networking. I'm currently avoiding Twitter as much as I can and if I'm not reading then I'll tend to pop an audio book or relaxing playlist on for fifteen minutes or so to wind down, as well as thinking about three good things from the day. If you're looking for something more, then the Calm app is great, and it's well worth thinking about a pillow spray like the This Works Deep Sleep one. I've also been sticking to my usual pre-bedtime skincare routine which has also really helped to wind down at the end of the day, as has making a to-do list for the following day.

All of this sounds super obvious when it's written down like this, but in the fog of one day very much feeling like another at the moment, I think it's well worth trying to stick to a sense of structure as far as possible, and trying to celebrate the positive too. There's a lot of noise around as things stand, but I think it's important to remember that you don't have to listen to or absorb it all- just do what works for you and take things one day at a time. We'll get there.

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

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