[Vanessa Keranovic, Mindfulness Coach]
Welcome to day three of the course "Mindfulness for Better Sleep". Today, we are going to dive deep into evening routines and evening rituals. You probably already have some kind of an evening routine, even if you don't know that. An evening routine can be as simple as brushing your teeth before bed and putting on pajamas. Maybe you cozy up with a good book right before bed or you drink some soothing tea. Either way, when it comes to improving your sleep long term, consistency is key. We humans thrive on routines and consistency. And this is what I wanna talk about today. I want to talk about how you can build an evening routine that will help you improve your sleep patterns and enjoy your evenings much more. I will also talk about how you can turn your evening routine into an evening ritual. Adding another layer of spirituality to your evening routine. But before we dive into that, here's how routines and consistency actually helps you thrive and helps you improve your sleep. By going to bed at the same time every night, weekends included, allows your body to fully adjust to your sleeping schedule. Over time with consistency, your body knows when it's time to go to sleep. And at that time, it slowly starts to unwind and relax and prepare itself for restful sleep. This happens because with consistency and over time, your body learns and can fully rely on your sleeping schedule. It will have no surprises and it knows when to expect bedtime. Similar is true for waking up. Waking up every day at the same time allows your body to fully adjust to that waking up pattern. You will notice how over time you start to feel more energy, get more energy and wakefulness around that time. Who knows even with time, you might not need an alarm clock. Along with having a consistent sleeping schedule, if you add an evening routine to the equation, if you perform the same or similar habits every night, around the same time, like washing your teeth, having a meditation practice, journaling, drinking a soothing tea or anything else you might want to add to your evening routine. With time and consistency and repetition you will naturally more quickly unwind, relax and get ready for sleep. The effect here is twofold. The habits themselves can have a relaxing and calming effect on you. But also performing them every evening and going to bed right after them, helps your body to recognize when it's time to go to sleep as well. Because those habits become a cue for the next habit, which is sleeping. Your body and mind start to learn what comes after your evening routine. So these habits from your evening routine become like a gentle intro to sleep. So not only are the habits relaxing themselves, just by having an evening routine, you teach the body over time when it's time to go to sleep. Now, as I mentioned in the beginning adding another layer to your evening routine, will help you transform that evening routine into a ritual. One that will have more meaning and more purpose to it. Now, just by having an evening routine, this can already help you promote better sleep immensely. But adding another layer will help you reconnect with yourself more deeply, which is a beautiful spiritual practice that you can give yourself. I like to call this added layer, intentionally. Meaning that I'm being more intentional with which habits enter my evening routine, but also as I'm doing the habits. I'm trying to working on being more present with the habit itself and with what I'm trying to promote with that habit. Through my practices, I'm working on reconnecting with myself. To see what's going on inside of me and how can I promote inner peace and calm more. This also means that I'm focusing on practices that have a grounding and connecting effect on me. Meaning that I will feel more grounded afterwards or even while doing them, but also more connected with myself with those around me, with the universe, the nature, with everything that is and will be. It really comes down to, what does feel most right to you? What resonates the most with you and what do you feel the most aligned with? I like to think about the distinction between an evening routine and an evening ritual. In this way, I think an evening routine offers great nourishment for the mind and body. Depending on which practices you choose. But it can definitely help you promote better sleep. Having a evening ritual, is adding another layer of nourishment and this time for your soul. Allowing you to deepen your self awareness, reconnect back with yourself, your true essence. So your evening ritual is not just this relaxing and calming practice, that helps you transform from doing into being mode. Transform and let go of the day behind you and get ready for the night ahead of you. But it is also a spiritual practice that helps you nourish your most treasured home, yourself. And helps you connect with yourself but also with those around you. And you might wonder why is that important here? And why should you care about that? Because one of the most common experiences that arise when we feel dysregulated, when we are activated and stuck in doing mode. Is that we feel both disconnected from ourselves, running on autopilot. But also disconnected and isolated from others. We feel like we are completely alone at what we're doing and what's happening. By having a practice that allows you to come back to yourself, and to feel connected to others as well, helps you get unstuck from the doing mode. And enjoy your life also in being as well. When we are stuck in this state, in the state of always doing and never being, we tend to see things worse than they are. So by having a consistent practice of reconnecting back to ourselves and coming back to ourselves, and connecting to others as well, we fill up our cup of belonging and connectedness. This helps us on the days that are inevitably going to come. The days we are going to feel more scattered around. In those days, we can use from that cup of accumulated energy that will help us feel more grounded and refocus us, put us back in the present moment. In the next couple of minutes, I'm going to share with you my own evening ritual. How, why and what do I do every evening before bedtime. I will also share a couple of suggestions for things I don't do every evening. Now, I recognize here that we are all beautifully unique. And accordingly, our evening practice, our evening ritual as well will be unique. So this, what I'm going to share is merely a suggestion. An open invitation to pick and choose and try out what will and can work for you. You don't have to make a decision right away or stick to something that you've choose at the beginning. You can experiment, try different things and see what works for you. Okay. Let's dive into my evening ritual. So every night, two or three hours before bedtime, I dim all the lights I can and I try to avoid electronics. I notice that bright lights really disturb my sleep. So I try to avoid them in the hours leading to sleep. And habits that are part of my evening ritual are, reading. I'd love to start my evening ritual with reading a good book. I try to aim for at least 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how much time I have. After I'm done with reading, I usually like to engage with some journaling. We'll dive more deeply into journaling in the next day, day four. After that, I like to do a meditation practice or some breath work, depending on how I'm feeling that day and what I feel called to do. I also love to incorporate essential oils into my evening ritual. I will either diffuse some essential oils that have a relaxing and calming effect on us and use those nice smells as I'm doing some other practices that I already mentioned. Or if I have more time, I will do a self massage where I'll be using those oils and massaging myself. And at the very end of my evening ritual, when I'm almost ready to go to sleep, I will spend a couple of more minutes to wash my face, my teeth, anything else that I feel like doing, and then I'll go to sleep. Now I wanna note here that I don't always do everything from my list. Sometimes I'll do it all, but sometimes I'll reduce it to two or three things depending on, how much time I have, how much energy I have and what happened that day. I really try to tune in with my body, to tune in with my emotional state and see what's going on and what do I need the most that day. For me it really comes down to listening to my needs and what my body asks for at every moment. So what I wanna state here is that in my opinion, it's more important to listen to what your body, mind and soul need from you that day, than for your practice to look always the same or to be this perfect ideal version you think it should look like. It's okay if one day your evening routine is extensive and lasts for three hours. And the other is just 15 minutes of washing yourself up and going to sleep. If that is what you needed at that time, then that's perfectly fine. And if you're just starting out in building your evening routine or ritual, and you don't know where to start, I would suggest start small and build up from there. Chances are, if you try to start it all at once you are overwhelm yourself and possibly give up. it's better to start small and slowly gently with yourself, gently progress from there. As you get comfortable with each habit you can add another one you feel called to add. And remember whatever you choose and whatever direction you go with, always practice compassion and acceptance. And here are some other ideas you might want to try out and potentially incorporate into your evening ritual. You might try taking a warm bath or having a mindful shower. By having a mindful shower I'm referring to being fully present with the experience of showering. With the water falling on your skin, with the smell of soap that you're using, and so on. You could do a gentle stretching or try a restorative yoga session. Or you might wanna do something more artistic a way to express yourself like, painting or drawing or some other way you like to artistically express yourself. Maybe you'd prefer that instead of journaling. Maybe you're more of a visual person and you like to see things and visualize things rather than write them down. So maybe drawing or painting is just a thing you need to have your creative outlet for the night. Whichever you go with, see that it aligns with who you are and that it fully supports your growth and your future you wish to see and have. And that's the wrap on day three evening rituals. In day two we talked about different mindfulness practices like meditation, deep breathing or relaxing practices that you can use. Those are the practices that you can incorporate into your evening ritual. And in day four, we're going to dive deep into evening reflections. We'll talk a lot about different styles of journaling that you can use which can also be part of your evening ritual. So I will see you in day four as we dive deep into evening reflections and journaling.