How To: Create Your All-Natural Relaxation Station
I’ve always had mild to moderate anxiety. And I use to unwind from that by smoking (in my teens and 20s) and later with wine or martinis. It’s ironic that the stuff that is so accessible to “relieve stress” actually increases stress, isn’t it? Since I’ve stopped drinking altogether, my anxiety has practically disappeared. Honestly with age, I think it’s lessened, in general. But now that I took away alcohol, I am practically anxiety-free! Still, I like to keep a little backup kit of de-stress supplies that help me ease into sleep or decompress. The best part is that they’re all natural!
Today wasn’t particularly stressful: I took Harry and Beau to the doctor this morning to get their coughs checked out; they’re both good to go. Other than that, I just hung out with the kids and prepped a little bit for Christmas dinner. This year I’m doing a beef stew over goat cheese mashed potatoes (sooooo good) and a chocolate cheesecake. For breakfast we’ll just have store bought cinnamon rolls, bacon, eggs, and juice. I’m keeping it pretty simple this year. What are you making?
Even though today was pretty average, I still plan to use most of these goodies to help fall asleep! They make for the most restful nights.
1. Gel Bead Hot/Cold Pad: Yes, hot and cold! These things are awesome. I have one specifically for my eyes, but it’s something else I haven’t needed much since I cut out alcohol. The long pad is the perfect size for neck, back, and shoulders, though. To prep it for cold relief, you just freeze it for 30 minutes and it’s good to go. For heat, you microwave it for 30 seconds. I keep mine in the fridge to shorten the chill time because I usually like to cold therapy better. Mine is from Marshall’s, but this one from Amazon is similar. (Just check the heat and chill times.)
2. Essential Oils: I have a lot of these and just play around with scent combinations I like. My favorites are rosemary, lavender, sage, basil, and eucalyptus. You can find a huge variety at Whole Foods, and Now Foods is very reasonably priced, especially if you are just using them for aromatherapy. Which brings me to the next item!
3. PureSpa Natural Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser: This is the best. It’s quiet and sleek with a pretty woodgrain look. It changes colors with LED lights if you want. It’s super easy to set up: just add about a cup of water and 5-6 drops of your favorite oils. It will last through the night and shut off before it empties. I also found this at Marshall’s but you can order them straight through the website or sometimes from Amazon.
4. Flavored Seltzers with Fancy Straws: Although I like La Croix, I actually have liked Target’s Simply Balanced brand even better! They have better flavors, prettier cans, and they’re cheaper. My favorite flavor is Watermelon, but I also like Cucumber Mint and Peach Ginger. A squeeze of lime and a pretty straw make this the ultimate relaxing pre-bed drink.
5. Contoured Sleep Mask: This has been a lifesaver for me since 2012! I love this mask. I go through about 3 per year because I use it every night, and they’re too fragile to wash. I have tried other brands, but this one is the most comfortable. It’s very soft and lightweight, but it’s also contoured so you don’t feel like you have a blanket on your face. There’s something subconscious that happens when I put this on. 99% of the time, when I put the mask over my eyes, I’m asleep in 10 minutes. It’s almost like forcing me into pitch darkness lets my mind relax and shut down. I used to have the worst time falling asleep; I’ve taken all kinds of OTC and prescriptions medications over the years for it (and that’s partly why drinking was so appealing…such faulty logic there since alcohol disrupts REM sleep). I still take OTC stuff from time to time, but the mainstay and most important thing is this mask. I cannot stress it enough. If you have trouble sleeping, please try this mask. I bring it on car trips if JW and I are sharing the drive time. The mask helps your eyes to rest in between shifts. If you really are sleep deprived and want an afternoon nap, this mask has helped me fall asleep in broad daylight. It has helped with tension headaches. I even brought it to the dentist this week when I had a cavity filled.
6. Atmosphere Mist: If you haven’t noticed, I’m really into herbally smelling things. This smells so earthy and soothing; I get tired just talking about it. You can get it in different combinations like Lavender and Thyme, Lemongrass and Geranium, and my current scent of choice: Juniper and Sage. Mist it on your pillow, linens, and your pajamas before climbing in bed. I found this one at Marshall’s, but you can get similar scents at the Body Shop or Bath and Body Works.
7. GABA: According to the website Organic Newsroom “GABA supplements contain one of the most impactful compounds found in your brain, with the ability to greatly benefit your central nervous system. CNS depressants are common prescription drugs that act upon many GABA receptor sites in your brain, which have an overall calming effect. GABA supplements are a more natural way of achieving the same types of benefits, without the dramatic risks associated with pharmaceutical drugs. GABA represents one of many natural courses of treatment that have the potential to treat many systemic, chronic, and serious health conditions. GABA supplements have been shown to serve as effective treatments for issues relating to overly-excited neural pathways, such as anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Researchers have found that GABA supplements can “act at lower doses, with fewer side effects than currently used drugs” 2. This powerful revelation means that research has shown GABA to be more effective at treating many conditions that pharmaceutical drugs! In addition to the powerful benefits offered to the central nervous system, GABA has been shown to stimulate a 400% increase in human growth hormone production.” I don’t feel comfortable rewording this into my own writing since it’s a pill, but it’s a more natural alternative to prescription anxiety medication. I get mine at Whole Foods because I find them more trustworthy than online retailers.
So….what’s in your arsenal for relaxing and getting to sleep?