The hustle and bustle of modern life can be overwhelming - it’s no wonder most of us have difficulty winding down before bed. Receiving quality sleep can have a host of benefits for our mental, physical, and emotional well-being, and so the importance of spending adequate time to relax at the end of the day should not be neglected.
Developing the habit of practicing a quick, calming exercise at the end of each day can help you to reduce your stress levels and make it easier to fall asleep peacefully. Below are some simple steps on how to unwind with a five minute meditation before bed.
Find a peaceful spot: Choose a spot where you will be undisturbed and comfortable while doing your meditation. It should be somewhere you won’t be disturbed by loud noises or activity. Place yourself in a way that encourages you to relax and be mindful. For example, placing cushions on the floor and sitting down, or lying propped up on your bed.
Focus on your breath: Close your eyes and become aware of your breath. Begin to focus deeply on the rhythm of your inhale and exhale, naturally allowing your breath to deepen and slow down. When your mind starts to wander, as it inevitably will, return your focus to the rhythm of your breathing.
Take time to relax each body part: Now begin to scan your body from your head downwards. Spend a short while paying attention to each part of your body in turn, and take the time to relax areas that feel tight and tense.
Acknowledge your thoughts: Throughout the meditation, it is common for distracting thoughts and worries to arise. Don’t judge yourself for them, instead acknowledge each thought without clinging to it and simply allow it to drift away.
End affirmatively: As the meditation comes to an end, take a few moments to silently thank yourself or think positively about the experience. You could visualise a tranquil scene such as a sunset over a lake, and take a few deep breaths to really immerse yourself in the calming atmosphere.
At first, it can be difficult to find the motivation and focus to meditate for even just a few minutes. However, if you persevere, you will begin to notice the positive effects of meditating each day. In addition to easing your worries and helping you to relax, meditation can also improve clarity and increase focus.
Of course, 5 minutes are not enough to tackle deep rooted tensions and can be just the warm-up routine to managing stress overall. There is no substitution to therapy and other methods like journalling if the stress has built up too much and is showing in other aspects of your life (lack of productivity, fatigue, lethargy). Alternately, if you wish to extend the duration of your meditation sessions, there is ample online content available.
Regardless of how you decide to wind down at the end of the day - whether that’s taking a bath, writing in a journal or simply laying in bed listening to gentle music - the most important thing is to find something that relaxes you and enables you to switch off. Spending even just 5 minutes connecting to yourself at the end of the night can leave you feeling more energised and ready for the following day.