6 Steps to Creating a Restorative Nighttime Routine

When we wrap up at the end of each day, it can often be a struggle to quieten our minds and release the tensions and worries of the day. This can keep our minds buzzing long beyond the time we decide to ‘switch off’, eating into the little time we have to rejuvenate in the evening.

Purposefully setting a restful nighttime routine is key to turning the volume down, letting go of the day’s events, and checking in with ourselves about how we are feeling, both physically and mentally. 

As we approach the end of the working year – a period that, for many of us, is the busiest of times – we chatted with our wonderful Guest Coordinator, Keri Krieger, to share some of her tips on how to mindfully stop, accept, unwind and recharge after each day. 

Create a rejuvenative night-time routine

1. Start by setting an intention 

Setting the intention to rest is one of the defining pillars of relaxing mindfully. Taking time to purposefully disconnect from distraction and wholly participate in the centering of our own body is a powerful and grounding ritual, allowing us to liberate our minds from the day’s unresolved tensions and worries. 

“Setting the intention to rest sounds easy, and to some extent it is, but we have often begun to associate resting as another task or self-care activity to do,” says Keri. 

“Resting can be literally stopping and taking 10 slow, deep breaths while doing nothing else. You can even do it whilst lying down on the couch!”

2. Disconnect from devices 

With personal technology constantly present in our lives, consciously disconnecting from our online reality can almost feel unnatural at times. It can be all too easy to spend our downtime mindlessly scrolling, immersing ourselves in online entertainment, or even revisiting the tasks of the day or dwelling on what lies ahead tomorrow. This smothers our ability to bring stillness to our minds and receive the rest that we so desperately need.

“Take advantage of the settings on our devices that switch onto do not disturb mode at certain times, allowing only essential phone calls through,” says Keri.

“When you first set this boundary, it is going to be uncomfortable. The habit of constantly being preoccupied with our devices and the need to check our notifications will linger, but you will just need to sit through it.

“You might also find there is some feedback from people in your life who are used to you texting back as soon as their message lands in your inbox. This too will take time but is worth the hard conversations.” 

3. Tune into your body 

Bringing awareness to the physical sensations we experience in our bodies puts us in touch with the feelings that we may not have noticed throughout the day and centres our awareness on our current state of being.

“It is important to bring your body into mindfulness practice, quite simply because this is where you live! Our feedback for how we’re feeling – whether we received enough sleep, how nourishing our previous meal was, how we feel about the quality of the conversations and interactions in our day – all manifest through the sensations in our body and the feelings we’re experiencing. 

“There are many apps and YouTube tutorials on meditation and breathwork. If the idea of breathwork is totally new to you, start with a simple belly breath or Box Breathing technique.”

Read more about calming breathing techniques here.

4. Reflect on and accept the events of the day

It can become a force of habit to push down the uncomfortable thoughts and emotions we feel throughout the day. Unfortunately, this often results in built-up tension and anxiety that can weigh heavy on us at the end of the day. 

By reflecting, exploring and accepting these uncomfortable emotions and experiences, we are able to process and move past them. One way to do this is through journaling.

“Writing down the events of the day gets them outside of yourself and gives you a little more perspective, which is helpful to invite acceptance,” says Keri.

“It’s like going back through the movie of the day, acknowledging all that happened, and accepting that we can’t change the course of events, only our response to them. This also gives us a chance to acknowledge how we feel in response to whatever happened and set up whatever is needed to create the best outcome after the fact.” 

5. Incorporate mindful movement into your routine

As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, mindful physical movement helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension throughout the body, that are often the physical manifestation of unresolved stress from the day. This is also an opportunity to venture outdoors and absorb the healing properties of fresh air and Mother Nature. 

“I enjoy moving meditation and being out in nature, walking only so fast as I can observe my surroundings and really take them in, noticing all the colours, sounds and smells (phone on silent and zipped away!),” says Keri.

“We can easily fall into the trap of telling ourselves that we have to do a whole hour at the gym, and we might even have the time, but when we’re stressed it can be challenging to prioritise this. I will often ‘trick’ myself into doing the same eight-minute YouTube Pilates class!

“I also live on a hill, so I tell myself between tasks to do two laps up and back. It’s not a triathlon but I’m moving my body, breathing differently, and offering myself a chance to ponder the events of the day. Plus, I’m getting a dose of fresh air! Just ten minutes a day can be the start of a new habit.”

6. Set yourself up for a restful sleep

It’s imperative that we get seven to nine hours of sleep each night to perform at our best. If this is something that you struggle with, Keri shares some of the tips she follows to achieve the rest she needs after having previously battled with a year of “dreadful” sleep in 2020.

“I recommend putting your phone on do not disturb to help limit your screen time, using blue light blockers for movies or time on your laptop after sundown, limiting coffee to before lunch, and avoiding alcohol for up to three hours before sleep. At the time when I was suffering from poor sleep, I also used a silk eye mask and earplugs. And I go to bed early to get a full eight hours as often as I can!”

Becoming swept up in our routine and events of the day can become a significant barrier to unwinding, hindering our ability to recharge for tomorrow and start the new day with a refreshed mind. However, these simple steps can help you approach your evening mindfully and with purpose, harmonising your mental and physical state and enhancing your overall wellbeing with time and consistency.

To discover how to further instil healthy habits throughout your day for a balanced routine that prioritises your wellbeing, click here.