This Is My Ultimate Wind-Down Routine To Relax After A Long Day
Although you may want to crawl right into bed and fall asleep after a jam-packed day, your brain isn't always on the same page. If you find yourself lying in bed with thoughts running around in your mind preventing you from getting that much-needed rest, I hear you.
Everyone finds different ways to wind down, and I'm here to explain mine. As mindbodygreen's newest beauty teammate, I figured it was time to share a bit more about me.
Yes, it may be a little over the top for every single day, but it helps me relax when I really need it. Plus, it puts me in a better place mentally before falling asleep. As always, you should take what resonates with you and leave the rest—but here, allow me to divulge my ultimate wind-down routine:
Play up the ambience.
I like to start by putting on some relaxing music (here's my go-to Spotify playlist). This helps me slow down and get into that spa-like mindset, even if I'm at home. Then I'll turn on my oil diffuser and add some lavender and eucalyptus essential oils. If you don't have a diffuser, any sort of aromatherapy will do. Think candles, incense, room spray, etc.
The final step to set the scene for maximum relaxation is adjusting the lighting in your home. Cool, bright, lights can be harsh and not so relaxing, so I'll turn off any overhead lights and opt for softer detail lighting instead. Some of my go-to lighting fixtures are rock salt lamps, sunset lights, and anything on the dimmer side (low-watt light bulbs are your friends). This helps my eyes relax and my brain prepare for rest.
Take a sleep and relaxation supplement.
To make sure I get restorative rest, I take mbg's sleep support+ before I start my evening wind-down. This supplement kicks in within an hour or two and helps me fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling rejuvenated.* The pioneering formula contains a powerful blend of magnesium bisglycinate, jujube, and PharmaGABA® that supports a healthy circadian rhythm and enhances overall sleep quality.*
Beyond aiding in healthy rest, this sleep supplement also promotes muscle relaxation and modulates stress response in the body.* I like to think of this as a primer to make the rest of my wind-down routine that much better.
Give your body a slow stretch.
Once you've set the scene, it's time to fold in some healthy movement. While exercising right before bed might make it difficult to sleep—one 2019 study in the journal Sports Medicine found that those who did vigorous exercise less than one hour before bed took longer to fall asleep and had poorer sleep quality1—stretching is a great way to decompress. I opt for a very simple yoga flow (here's a step-by-step), which includes cat and cow pose, downward dog, child's pose, and a seated position that's perfect for breathwork.
Stretching is important for overall health, but it's especially vital when it comes to relaxation. We actually store stress in the body, and one way to manually release it is through simple yoga flows and stretches like the ones discussed above. So while a peaceful ambience may make you feel more relaxed, stretching figuratively presses your body's "chill-out button" as well.
Take part in meditation.
From here, I like to move into meditation. I'll do this in my seated pose, or I'll lie down if it feels right at the moment. Everyone enters meditation differently, some not at all, and there are many kinds of meditation that may suit your lifestyle. When I'm feeling stressed, I opt for a guided meditation because it helps keep my mind from wandering into any problematic cycles. If you're unsure where to start, here's a 10 minute guided meditation by yoga teacher & Reiki master Susy Schieffelin, RYT-500.
Meditation and mindfulness have been shown to be powerful tools for improving mood, enhancing attention2, and decreasing markers of stress3. Not bad for a practice that's safe, free, and available at any time.
Open up your journal.
After I complete my meditation, I move on to journaling. Some days call for a simple brain dump, while others call for a list of journal prompts. If I don't necessarily have anything new to share since my last journal entry, or if I don't feel the need to run through my day-to-day, I'll opt for the latter.
There are many different styles of journaling, and each one offers different benefits. Here are a few examples:
- Free-form journaling
- Morning pages
- Gratitude journaling
- Mood-check journaling
- Bullet journaling
It's important to choose whatever feels best for the moment, and you don't have to stick to one style just because you're used to it. In fact, it may actually be beneficial to switch it up. You can read more about journaling, the benefits, and how to take part in different methods here.
Enjoy a pampering skin care routine.
As far as daily skin care routines go, we're all about simplicity. That being said, there's nothing wrong with a little extra pampering every once in a while. I find taking care of my skin relaxing and enjoyable, so I like to put some extra effort into it when I've had a long day. I'll typically use a face mask and play around with some facial tools to send my skin the extra love it deserves.
On busy days that make your head spin, a wind-down routine can help your body and mind relax after the fact. Taking sleep-promoting supplements, moving your body, mindfulness techniques, and some much-needed self-care can all have a significant impact on your mood.* Of course, there are many other ways to calm yourself down, so feel free to add other steps that may call to you. Here are 15 expert tips to calm down quickly if you're unsure where to start.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.