Restful Sleep - Physical Self-Care

The Witch's Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit - Arin Murphy-Hiscock 2018

Restful Sleep
Physical Self-Care

One of the keys to reducing stress and taking good care of your body is getting adequate sleep. Easier said than done! Your mind can keep you awake long after lights out, sabotaging restful sleep, or keeping you from reaching a deep enough sleep for it to be properly restorative.

Maximizing your sleep benefit can lower blood pressure, regulate your appetite, and improve concentration and productivity. A reliable bedtime routine can help your mind settle into the proper wind-down for an easier time falling asleep. Here’s a list of simple sleep-associated tips:

♦ Eat a light supper beforehand.

♦ Wash your face and remember to moisturize.

♦ Take a moment or so to reflect on your day, writing in your self-care journal, if you like. (See the End-of-Day Ritual in Chapter 4.)

♦ Put away your phone and tablet at least half an hour before lights out. If you want to read, choose a paper book. It engages the brain in a different way.

♦ Make your room calm, and make sure you have fresh sheets regularly. Vacuum your bedroom and tidy your flat surfaces to create as unchaotic an atmosphere as you can. (For more on care of your household, see Chapter 5.)

Also see the Bedtime Prayer exercise in Chapter 4 for another idea on how to approach bedtime.

Naps and Alternatives

As with many other self-care tips, recommending naps often assumes you have the time and space in which to have them. There is a lot of discussion about how a nap can actually make you more productive, how a brief snooze can revive you and help with mental clarity.

Well, it doesn’t always work. If you struggle with anxiety or sleep problems, trying to nap can be excruciating. Fortunately, there are alternatives. Recent research has shown that even lying down for 20 minutes can have similar benefits to an actual nap, which is excellent news for those who have trouble falling asleep.

There are also times when a nap can be detrimental. If you are practicing strict sleep hygiene, naps are a bad thing because they can upset your body’s rhythm to a point where your night will be out of whack again, and it can take days to recover. So what to do instead of napping?

♦ Meditation. Try one of the breathing meditation exercises or a mindfulness meditation from Chapter 4.

♦ Light exercise. Yes, it may be a drag getting yourself up and going, but a brief walk outside can clear your head and lift your mood. Part of it is the change in surroundings and the fresh air, but part of it is getting blood flowing through your muscles and breathing more deeply than you would when sitting home.

One way you can amp up your physical self-care is by boosting the quality of the sleep you get. Balms and room or linen sprays are a way to use the power of essential oils to help you relax and create an atmosphere to optimize your sleep.

Sleep Balm

Sleep balm can be rubbed on inner wrists, temples, inner elbows, and anywhere else you like. (It’s especially nice on rough feet!) The oils in it support relaxation and help calm a busy mind, allowing you to fall asleep more easily.

What You Need:

♦ Small saucepan 1/2 full of water

♦ 2 tablespoons olive oil

♦ 1 tablespoon coconut oil (solid)

♦ 1 tablespoon beeswax (grated or pellets)

♦ Clean glass jar, approximately 6 ounces

♦ Wooden chopstick or craft stick

♦ 10 drops lavender essential oil

♦ 10 drops chamomile essential oil

♦ 5 drops bergamot essential oil

♦ 3 drops sweet orange essential oil

♦ 2 drops ylang-ylang essential oil

♦ Storage jar or container, approximately 2 ounces (or two 1-ounce containers); glass recommended

What to Do:

1. Place the saucepan on a stove burner and bring the water to a simmer over medium-low heat.

2. Place the olive and coconut oils and the beeswax in the glass jar. Place the glass jar in the simmering water to allow the contents to melt together. Use the chopstick or craft stick to stir them, or gently hold the rim of the jar and swirl the contents to help them melt and combine.

3. When the beeswax has melted and combined with the oils, turn off the burner and remove the jar from the pan.

4. Add the essential oils and swirl to combine.

5. Open your storage container(s). Carefully pour the liquid balm into them, using paper towel to wipe off the edge of the container if necessary.

6. Leave the containers to cool and the balm to solidify. The shallower your containers, the more quickly this will happen.

7. Cover the containers and store in a cool, dry place. This sleep balm will keep for about six months.

Sleep Mist

This blend of oils is designed to be sprayed with a mister over your bed. Do it about 10 minutes before you plan to get into bed, so that the sheets don’t feel damp.

What You Need:

♦ Spray bottle

♦ 1 cup distilled water

♦ 30 drops lavender essential oil

♦ 10 drops chamomile essential oil

♦ 8 drops ylang-ylang essential oil

What to Do:

1. Nearly fill the spray bottle with the distilled water.

2. Add the essential oils and cap the bottle. Swirl gently to combine.

3. To use it, fold back your covers. Shake the bottle gently to recombine the solution. Spray the sheets with the Sleep Mist, but don’t saturate them; just let the mist settle on the fabric. Wait a few minutes for the sheets to dry a bit—you could do your bedtime routine—and then get in. Enjoy the calming scent of the oils.