As busy mums, we’re often running on empty in terms of energy and time. We spend a lot of time thinking about our children’s bedtime routine. But what about ours? We need the same element of wind down and ritual as they do to make sure ‘Hulk Mum’ isn’t a regular character in your family day.
By Nicola Elliott, Neom Organics
For sleep to be properly restful, we need to come to a baseline level of calm before we go to sleep. We read stories calmly to our children to help them settle into sleep mode. But WE tend to scroll on our phones or watch the news until the moments before bed, which does the opposite; firing up anxiety and stress and creating your brain’s ‘fight or flight’ response (beds should be a scroll-free zone). You really can’t sleep in fight or flight mode so ease into bedtime and soften into our recovery nervous system, the parasympathetic rest, digest and repair mode.
How can we do this? Pilates is a wonderful way of releasing tension and softening your mind and body. Every night before bed, I follow the same 7 minute routine (honestly, it’s literally 7 minutes and you can do these on the floor watching TV if you can’t peel yourself away from a Netflix boxset!).
– Lie on your back, knees bent. Ideally on the floor on a mat, but on your bed if that’s easier, with a small pillow underneath your head. Relax your arms down by your sides, or have your hands on your belly. Surrender your weight into the floor.
– Breathe, wide and full. Breathe in through the nose, and allow your breath to descend deep into your torso, feel your belly rise. Then breathe out through the mouth in a long sigh, as if you’re fogging a window in front of you.
– Tuck your pelvis underneath you and slowly peel your spine off the floor, bone by bone, lifting your bottom. Keep your spine long and try not to arch the ribcage up to the ceiling. Breathe in, then roll back down, rolling each bone individually like a bicycle chain onto the floor. Completely relax at the bottom. Repeat 3–5 times.
– Then, twist your spine and drop your knees to one side, rolling your head to the other side. Keep your shoulders heavy – open your arms wide if that helps. This is a lovely stretch for the spine. Roll 2–3 times in each direction. Then hug your knees to your chest.
– Release the feet back down and remain lying down for 2 more minutes as you focus on breathing deep, long and full. Breathe in for a count of 7, and out for a count of 11. Notice any thoughts that arise, and allow them to bubble – that’s what meditation is, simply releasing those thoughts from your mind so it doesn’t get cluttered and bubble over. It’s a bit like raking leaves from your lawn. If anything comes up that you feel anxious about or you start to overthink – jot it down in a journal to release it onto paper.
This is my non-negotiable routine, even if there are squawks from small people, I never skip these seven minutes of my own time. Even if your sleep is disturbed, your resting nervous system will be soothed and you will feel brighter, energised and more positive the next day if you commit to your self-care nightly ritual. As a result, Hulk Mum is much less likely to come out, and if she does she won’t linger!