When I was a pre-teen, I hated getting ready for bed. I was usually too tired by the time I convinced myself to go bed to put in any real effort in the bathroom. I was not yet a flosser, and toothbrushing was over in the blink-of-eye. I nearly removed a whole layer washing my face each night with St. Ives apricot scrub and then slathered on the Clearasil acne cream- yes, the tinted version that made me look like an Oompa Loompa. Not even a lick of moisturizer on my face. My skin just crackles thinking about it. Since then, my night-time habits have improved and gotten a little more gentle, but the routine of getting ready for bed has always been a bit of a dread. Despite this, I have always been a stickler about having a bed-time routine and am pretty regimented in brushing my teeth and washing my face...Being a former dental student and having acne as a teen make those two things a must.
But now, I am just beginning to think that how I get ready for bed affects how well or how poorly I sleep. I still have a ways to go, but I am learning to use that time as personal time, a chance to unwind, a chance to connect with me, myself, and I.
I once read an article about how French women are quite adept at the art of pampering themselves. Of course this is probably not true for all French women, but the point is that their culture is more celebratory of the beautification and cleansing processes compared to the American culture. We rush through the process in pursuit of the outcome. For the French, the process of getting oneself ready for bed or even ready for the day, is as important as being ready.
This week, I will be working on s-l-o-w-i-n-g d-o-w-n in the bathroom, taking care of my skin, of my body. Our bodies work really hard for us during the day, and our skin is our largest organ! These things deserve a little pampering, a little TLC. We often skip the flossing, cut short our brushing (2 minutes, upper and lower, inside and out!), and barely give that face wash a chance to do any cleansing before scrubbing it off. The whole time, our mind wanders, thinking about our to-do list and conversations we have had rather than noticing how we are feeling during this whole process.
For many, the idea of pampering oneself can only come from a spa or from that once monthly bubble bath, but why not integrate a little more pampering into our every evening? So here I give you this week's good habit:
Let's Fall into Good Habits #2: Treat Your Getting-Ready-for-Bed Routine as an Evening Ritual. A ritual suggests mindfulness and intention whereas a routine infers mindlessness. Slow down. Stay present. Maybe light a favorite candle. Floss, and brush gently but mindfully. Notice where you are more sensitive, notice those hard to reach places. Wash your face in slow circles. Massage your moisturizer in with your fingertips, traveling all of the way down the neck, the area so often neglected and that often shows the first signs of aging. If you choose to take an evening shower, use body lotion or my personal favorite, body oil on the skin, allowing it to sink in and nourish.
I hope this extra little attention helps you sleep a little better and feel a little better.
The photo shows some of my favorite products I use for a little extra pampering. I discovered Province Apothecary after searching for a natural skin care line, and while some of the other products were not the best match for my finicky skin, I love this clay mask! I can really get behind the intentionality of this brand, and its well-sourced ingredients. Lavender and Chamomile scents are naturally calming, so the candle and body oil are the perfect night-time combo. It took me a while to get used to applying body oil instead of lotion, but the spritzer makes it fun and easy to apply. While I still use lotion on occasion, I appreciate that I recognize the ingredients on the back of this bottle (hint: only natural oils and flower extracts). Another favorite body oil is more local to me: Tandi's Naturals Body Oil. The hand cream was a gift from some wonderful friends and has essences of tulip and green apple. It is perfect for giving some relief to my hands after hours of cooking and dish-washing.
What are some of your favorite ways of winding down?
If you missed the first Falling into Good Habits, click here!