Alright mama, it’s been a long day of chasing kiddos around, kissing boo boos, calming tantrums, breaking up fights, and trying to keep oneself sane, right? After all that, your body says LAY DOWN! So you get into your comfy pajamas, and slide into your sheets, your head hits the pillow, your eyes close, and your thoughts start running. Of course.
This very scenario has occurred often in my life. Especially during pregnancy and after having kids. How can my husband fall asleep on the way down to his pillow but my brain kicks into high gear, sometimes for hours?
After many nights of frustration, I decided to try some different things and I have compiled a list of things that work for me. Sometimes I use a combination of things, sometimes it only takes one thing to put me out.
The next time you can’t stop your mind long enough to to get some much needed shut-eye, try one of these:
Before you lay down:
–Grab a diffuser or a cotton ball and add a few drops of lavender essential oil to place near by
–Use your favorite scented lotion or lavender mixed with a carrier oil and massage it into your feet for a few minutes.
–Do some yoga or relaxation poses:
- Child’s pose: Begin by sitting on your heels, open your knees to a ‘V’ and slowly lean forward until your forehead is touching the floor (or do it in your bed.) You may have your arms stretched out straight in front of you on the floor or back with your palms up alongside your legs.
- Legs up against the wall: You begin on the floor or in your bed, facing the wall as close as you can, then you lay back and put your legs on the wall, scoot your bum forward so your body is against the wall at a 90 degree angle. Relax with a few deep breaths*. It feels great after a long day on your feet.
- Frog legs: I like to do this one in my bed because that is where it is the most relaxing for me. Lay on your back and put your heels together. Put your hands above you or by your side.
*Side note: Did you know that most of us breathe much too shallow? When I take deep breaths, I breathe in slowly through my nose until my lungs fill completely, then I hold it for a couple of seconds and release slowly through my nose. This always gives me the coolest sensation. I also like to do this when my kiddos are reeking havoc and on my last nerve.
I like to stay in these poses for 3-5 minutes. Sometimes I do all of them, sometimes I just pick one and stay there longer.
While you are in bed:
–take a 4-5 deep and slow breaths and recite a relaxing word in your mind, such as “calm,” or “shalom” or “breathe.” When your mind starts running again continue to repeat your word. Push out all other thoughts. Over and over again. It gets easier with practice. Try doing this in combination with your poses!
–lavender eye pillow (tutorial coming soon!)
–search for a guided meditation to listen to. YouTube has tons. I usually look for one that is at least half an hour. And I replay it if it doesn’t work the first time. I’ve never had to play it more than twice.
–Progressive Relaxation is a really neat technique in which you essentially clench and release each muscle in your body. The key is to only do one set of muscles or parts at a time. Start by taking a few deep breaths, slowly breathing in as much air as you can and exhaling them slowly. Begin with your toes: clench them as hard as possible. Hold a second or two, and release. Move to your feet, and repeat. Then do your lower calf, then upper calf. Next your knees, then your quads, followed by your hamstrings. Your glutes come next and continue on to each of the muscles in your torso. Then do your arms and hands. For your hands you just clench your fists. Follow with your neck, and then your jaw and your eyes. Lastly, your will clench every single muscle all together and then release.
What do you do to relax your mind when you can’t sleep?