At the end of a long, busy day, do you jump straight into your bed exhausted, barely stopping to brush your teeth? Or do you fall asleep on the sofa with the lights and television on, without even bothering to wash your face? It can be hard to find the time in the evenings to adopt a soothing nighttime routine, but slowing down and spending a few moments nurturing your body and soul can help you unwind after a rambunctious day. The rhythm, comfort and quiet of a nighttime ritual send a powerful signal to our brain that sleep is near, helping us relax so that we fall asleep faster, and sleep sounder too. When combined with nourishing, aromatherapeutic products like Weleda’s, a simple ritual can be transformed into a warming sensory experience, one that nourishes our soul and our skin. Follow these tips to help establish your own pre-slumber send off.
First Step: Tune Out
Tuning out is an important first step in any soothing bedtime routine. Send your final e-mail of the day, shut down your computer and turn off the television. Make a cup of caffeine-free tea; just the simple act of getting up, boiling the water and steeping the leaves can send a calming vibe. Chamomile tea is valued for its soothing properties, and peppermint can help tame a tummy ache.
You might want to light a soy-based candle or two, and use a lavender spray throughout your bedroom and on your linens. You can make your own by mixing equal parts lavender essential oil and water in a spray bottle. Incorporating relaxation techniques into a nightly routine can be helpful for those who have trouble sleeping. Try deep breathing: Sit for a few minutes with your eyes closed and try to make each breath deeper than the last. Another helpful technique is progressive muscle relaxation. Tense all of the muscles in your toes as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up from your feet to the top of your head.
Second Step: Wash Your Cares Away
Combined with aromatherapeutic products, a long soak in the bathtub can be a welcome treat at the end of a long day. Jill Yablonski, a skin-care specialist at Elements Studio in Piermont, NY, uses Weleda products regularly in the services she offers her clients. She recommends calendula for a soothing soak because of its calming properties. Weleda Baby Calendula Cream Bath was created for babies, but the whole family can use it for hydration and relaxation.
Don’t love a bath? No problem. A shower can also do wonders for a harried mind. Water falling on your neck and shoulders can help ease tension from sitting in front of a computer all day. Try pouring a few drops of lavender essential oil on the shower floor for even more tension-taming power. Use a harmonizing cleanser, like Weleda’s Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash, to cleanse away the day while providing a calming aroma. The fragrance of roses is known to calm frazzled nerves.
A couple of times a week, use a natural-bristle body brush before showering, which encourages toxin elimination from the skin. Weleda’s Birch Body Scrub, a gentle exfoliator, can also help you detox at the day’s end. “During the fall, there’s usually a need to exfoliate, renew and rehydrate,” says Yablonski. “Birch Body Scrub helps remove toxins and massaging it into skin stimulates circulation.”
You can also create your own gentle exfoliator by combining organic cane sugar with your favorite body oil. Weleda’s Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil and Lavender Relaxing Body Oil are good ones to try.
Step Three: Nourish Your Skin
After a bath or shower, take a few minutes to apply a hydrating body oil or lotion while your skin is still damp to lock in moisture. Massage the product into your skin in circular motions, starting at your feet and moving upwards toward your heart to help increase circulation.
For extra-dry skin, Yablonski recommends first applying the Weleda Citrus, Sea Buckthorn, Wild Rose or Pomegranate Body Oil followed by one of the complementary Body Lotions, new in stores this September. Sea Buckthorn Replenishing Body Lotion is a good choice for restoring the moisture of summer-worn skin.
Last but not least, don’t forget your feet. Massage Weleda Foot Balm into your soles to refresh and soften skin, and wear white cotton socks to help it sink in deeply. Foot Balm contains myrrh extract, which possesses astringent properties, and soothing, anti-inflammatory calendula extract.
Step 4: Focus on Yourself
Once the focus on skin care is done, ready yourself for sleep by taking some time to concentrate on yourself. Put on a pair of comfy, organic cotton pajamas, play some gentle music, read a book or write in a journal, even if it’s just one line a day. You might jot down something your grateful for or something memorable that happened during the day. Once you turn out the lights, envision your happy place — whether it’s a sandy tropical beach or the view from a high mountain peak.
While our hectic lifestyles can make it challenging to perform a soothing nighttime routine like this one on a regular basis, Yablonski says doing so even occasionally is beneficial. “Most of us are wound up a little tight and always on the go,” she says. “It’s important to take time for yourself and unwind now and then.” —Carrie Ruehlman and Lotus Abrams