With Xmas drawing ever closer there is a mix of excitement and stress in the air. Some are dreading to spend time with families, others stressing over finances and present shopping, card writing oh and don’t forget if your hosting to have all the right food (and that there is enough) and remember every visitor’s food allergies etc. As an expat Aussie who currently lives in Romania, I have no need to worry about there not being enough food, that’s for sure!
When I was living in the UK, the first December in the northern hemisphere really got me down, I had never experienced such a shortage of daylight before. In Australia, there aren’t many deciduous trees either so felt a little exposed somehow surrounded by just branches walking down the street and in the park, it was gloomy, damp and a feeling of death in the air. It was then that I was introduced to Hygge (pronounced hue-guh), it’s a Danish word that is difficult to describe with one word in English. It’s the snuggly indoor feeling where you just chill with the people you live with. It doesn’t really involve mindless TV in your PJ’s.
In the spirit of this cosy feeling and the change of the seasons, one needs to make sure they are getting enough sleep. The body clock becomes a little out of whack when it gets dark at 4.30 in the afternoon and it’s easy to lose track of time spent being awake after dark. Sleep is so important in reducing mild stress and anxiety levels, it should be of high priority in your life to make sure you get enough every night. I feel like there is a culture with adults in their 20′ and 30’s of lack of sleep and lack of routine for bedtimes. Ok, agreed we are not kids anymore and can go to be when we want, but are we going to bed when we need? Shouldn’t this be more important to your long-term health and wellbeing goals – our needs. I know when you have young children your on baby sleep time, and that’s another matter, but I’m referring to all the adults without children and those that have children that are above 3 years old and upwards. Routine works for the adults in the family as well as the children. If you don’t have a bedtime routine, it’s not too late!
So, I challenge you to have a 1-hour winding downtime. 1 hour where you are not in front of a screen (including your smartphone). The simplest way of putting this is that the problem with screens is they are sending signals through your eyes to your brain that tell you its still daytime and you should be awake. This is a more than a little counterproductive and the reason why your body naturally doesn’t feel sleepy, so we just keep going. Most of us know the research and are trying to use yellow backlighting at night in our screens when they are on sure this helps a little. You can do more research on this if you wish, or make your comments below. But wouldn’t it be better to send your body some strong signals that its time to wind down now? What I do is designate this time to have a shower with my favourite smelling soap bars. Smell has such a strong association with memory. Think about all the times you smelt food coming out of someone’s house that you were visiting and it sent you straight back to a specific day where you were at your grandmother’s house as a small child for example, and you remember every little detail of the room and what you were doing. The sense of smell is powerful stuff! I also get organised by getting clothes out ready for the next day over a chair so I don’t have to fumble around the room in the dark while my partner is still sleeping. Sometimes if I’m not already tired I manage to read a book in bed for a bit as well. That hour goes by pretty quick and you will be amazed at how productive it can be. Leave the emails and FB posts until the next morning – they aren’t going anywhere. Spend 1 hour of your time on you instead of giving it all to others. I write these words with love.
Still having problems sleeping? Try a couple drops of lavender oil on a small piece of cloth and place under your pillowcase. Or if you have some dried lavender, try making a lavender pillow out of a scrap piece of cloth. I’m made the one below out of an old blanket.
If you already have your own routine and would like to give some ideas to others, please comment below 🙂