Bringing Balance Back is a monthly series on Diehard Foodie, by Kat Beck. Kat is my sister, best friend, role model and go-to expert for all healthy living outside of nutrition. We work together to support and better each other. I give her advice on healthy eating, and she gives me so much advice on other aspects of healthy living (that I sometimes neglect!) My hope is she will become your guru on these aspects, and bring more balance in your life as well.
My life totally shifted when I started living holistically. Holistic wellness isn’t just some trendy topic. It is a way of living that you create and it doesn’t have to be perfect. My holistic wellness means a daily dose of meditation, moving my body, nourishing myself, hydrating and sleeping well…but I also watch TV, drink beer and eat pizza regularly. I’m all about the 80/20 rule; which means 80% of the time I strive to make healthy choices. This allows for freedom to not feel restricted, which is how I like to live. I believe that when you design your days with intention, your dream life can become your reality. Since sleep is a priority in my holistic lifestyle, I have developed some habits that help me to get deep sleep every night.
Here’s how I wind down before bed:
I go screen free
I generally don’t look at my iPhone past 7:30pm. I use it quite a bit during the day so I like to let it go when I am home with my hubby. Also- the iPhone doesn’t come into the bedroom; it sits in the kitchen with my volume set loud enough for me to hear my alarm from the bedroom. Sometimes I love to sit on the couch and zone out with a little It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, American Horror Story, or whatever is currently streaming on Netflix (I cannot wait for the next season of House of Cards!!!). The problem with staring at a screen before bed is that the blue light from the screen prevents our body from producing melatonin, which is necessary for sleep. Solution: blue light protection glasses; they block out the blue light so your body doesn’t think it’s daytime. I found these cute glasses on Amazon. Here’s a great article explaining in detail why I go screen free in the evenings.
I get some assistance
I apply an essential oil blend to the bottom of my feet & temples called Serene sleep, which I make with a blend of lavender, sweet marjoram, roman chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood and vanilla bean. It smells heavenly and its so very relaxing. The one supplement I take before bed is magnesium. It helps me fall asleep quickly and relax my muscles. If I am still in GO mode at 8pm, I will have a lovely little cup of chamomile tea.
I release stress
We hold onto emotional and physical stress in our body. So it’s important to LET IT GO every night before getting into bed. My husband actually got me to stick to this habit because he always stretches before bed. He’s got a great routine with a foam roller that inspired me to make one as well. Encouraging your partner to join you is so very helpful.
Forward folds, like dragonfly (pictured below, cat not necessary) are a great way to release your worries and calm your mind. You don’t have to have your chest on the floor- it is NOT about what the pose looks like. Use a bolster, pillows, and blocks to prop up your head. Relax your muscles and stay here for 2-5 minutes. I like to play a song to time myself. Hammock‘s music is perfect for a savasana vibe.
Another great way to relax before bed is by propping your legs up on the wall or the bed to calm your mind. I actually made a mini-meditation just for this. Check it out!
I free my mind
I like to do a couple of minutes of a calming breathing exercise to free my mind. Pranayama means breath control and it is one of the eight limbs of yoga. If you’ve been to a yoga class, you’ve probably been instructed to do ujjayi breath (commonly referred to as Darth Vader Breath), which is one of MANY types of pranayama. Some calming techniques are rhythmic breathing or alternate nostril breathing. The effects are immediate and they are so easy to do:
Rhythmic breath is quite simple: inhale to the same count as your exhale: inhale 1,2,3,4 and exhale 1,2,3,4. If you really need to relax, then extend the exhale a little longer than your inhale. Breathe in and out of your nose and fill up your entire lungs with each inhale and completely empty your lungs by pulling your belly button in as you exhale.
Here’s a great video on alternate nostril breathing.
Journaling at the end of the day is also a great way to release whatever is lingering in your mind.
I sleep soundly
I am in bed by 9:30pm at the latest (excluding weekends when we get crazy and go to bed at 11pm lol). I get 7-8.5 hours of sleep every night. I do have nights where I toss and turn, which I can typically attribute to drinking coffee that day; my body doesn’t metabolize coffee well and I often cannot sleep when I have just one cup (even at 8am). I drink tea most weekday mornings (even though I LOVE coffee) because sleep matters that much to me.
Your turn: Let me know how you get ready to get some Zzz’s below.
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