We all know what its like when any of the school holidays come around. From the moment that alarm goes off or one of the kids wakes you abruptly by jumping up and down on the bed, it is all systems go and that daily relentless chaos has us tired even before midday has come along. But I often find that with the gazillion coffees I have to get me through the day, when bedtime comes I can find myself feeling wide awake and nowhere near ready to drift off in to the land of nod. Add in the mental check list of all the things I should have done that day, and all the important things that need to be shoehorned in to the next day. The list is huge - between breakfast, holiday clubs, nursery runs, days out, food shopping, cleaning, ironing (I must admit I recently started sending my washing out to be ironed, it’s a complete revelation!) and just generally being the best children’s entertainer since Coco the Clown, it is sometimes a difficult task just to lay in bed and peacefully drift off.
It goes without saying, us super parents need to be giving ourselves some serious TLC, but instead we often find ourselves the bottom of the list. This self neglect leads to rubbish sleep, waking with aches and pains and generally feeling lethargic and tired for the rest of the day. Ive decided to do something about it, and recently I have promised to try and love myself as much as I love being mother extraordinaire!
My usual bedtime routine would be to put a wash or dryer on ready for the morning, clean the kitchen, put all the crap away the kids have dragged out and purposely forgotten to put away, sort the dog, and then slump in bed - then toss and turn for a while. Now I am giving myself an extra half hour to wind down before going to bed - it's not just the kids who need this, it's me too! The wind down and relaxation before bed is so important for a good nights sleep.
For years I have been a huge fan of essential oils, and I had a new found love for them when I studied holistic therapies at college a few years back. Essential oils are extracted from plants and can either be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Each essential oil comes with its own therapeutic benefits. Lavender is a good stress reliever, peppermint is a natural energy booster, and some have been known to help with:
- Cold and flu symptoms.
- Relaxing aching muscles.
- Skin conditions.
- Alleviating pain.
- Balancing hormones.
- Improving digestion.
- Reducing cellulite and wrinkles.
Last winter I invested in a home diffuser that you add water and a few drops of essential oil to, and it emits the aroma around the house. There's loads available at amazon.co.uk and they're priced really well. The one I have also has a mood light on it so you can choose to burn your favourite oils with a nice colourful ambient light in your room too. It's great to use when the weather changes and sniffles start, I would put tee-tree or eucalyptus in it to help ease symptoms. It's also just as good to use in the evening with lavender oils to help relax and unwind. There are so many essential oils out there that can help with different benefits. Have a look at websites like www.aromatherapy.com and I personally have used www.doterra.com products in the past that I found useful.
I want to share with you a few amazing natural products that I have found work wonders to help you de-stress, wind down and get you all zen for a pretty much undisturbed sleep. Fingers crossed these will work their magic on you too.
Labelled as sleep in a bottle, I’d say they are pretty much spot on with this. Neom have created a specially formulated blend of up to 19 of the purest possible essential oils including English lavender, sweet basil & jasmine. Burn their candle in the living room for a while to help you unwind and relax and then use the spritz on your pillow. As soon as my head hits the pillow I get transported because the smell really is divine. I take in as many deep breaths as I feel I need to, then before I know it I’m way off to the land of nod feeling very, very relaxed.
Their bottles are packed with super strong essential oils so the smallest amount really does go a long way. I usually fill half a cap with their bath and shower oil, fill a nice hot bath with one candle burning, and I have a spa music play list that is perfect. 10 minutes submerged in their ‘Relax’ or ‘De-stress’ oils is like a week away at a health retreat.
I call this therapy in a bottle! I suffer with anxiety and during those times everything can feel like it's all too much. I get that tightness in my chest, palpitations, headaches and that churning in the pit of the tummy that makes you feel really off kilter. These symptoms can often leave me totally exhausted but unable to sleep at night. This little bottle of magic is perfect for carrying around in your bag and rubbing in to your temples, neck, earlobes when you feel like the heavy burden of life is gets too much. There’s a slight tingling sensation, the smell is so comforting and within minutes you fell a lot more grounded and centred, just like when you leave a therapy session, hence the name I call it 🙂
When it goes past 5pm I know I have to avoid all caffeinated drinks otherwise when it comes to bedtime I’ll be flicking through the tv watching a load of rubbish I don’t really want to watch, or on social media seeing a load of rubbish I really have no interest for; or the anxiety kicks in and I start to re-evaluate my life and worry about what the future holds.... no one wants that mental torture! So a good way to help calm the mind is herbal teas. I love a hot drink or two in the evening (as well as the alcoholic ones as well!) but the days I feel I have over indulged in one too many flat whites, a herbal tea does just the trick to bring me down a level or two. What I love about Pukka teas is that they are packed full of flavour, and my favourite, the Night Time tea, is branded “A magical cup of wisdom” from the years of experience the guys who created it have. It combines oat flower, soothing lavender, and silky-sweet lime flower together with the magic of valerian. This is deffo the perfect wind-down drink.
... And Unwind ...
Make your own ‘Unwind’ music playlist or enjoy one of the many on the music platforms. I love nothing more that listening to spa music at bedtime or in the bath. It’s music that you associate with going for a massage or just generally pampering yourself so to have it playing at home is a real treat and you just cannot help feeling chilled and relaxed. Feel the tension drift away while in the bath or taking some time out to practice meditating or mindfulness whilst laying on the bed. Just close your eyes, take in those deep breaths and try to quiet your mind. 5-10 minutes being unplugged from the daily grind will work wonders for rejuvenating the body, mind and soul.