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It’s not news at this point that we’re living in incredibly uncertain and confusing times. Between a never-ending pandemic that’s caused isolation and collective anxiety, it’s no wonder why our brains are constantly on overdrive.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 11% of adults reported depression and anxiety disorder symptoms before the pandemic. By January 2021, almost a year into the pandemic, that jumped up to 41%. According to another study by the National Institute of Health, the virus caused a sharp increase in sleep deprivation among adults worldwide—the University of California at Davis billed it as “coronasomnia”.

It’s crucial to remember that whatever response you have to the current state of affairs is valid. Still, anxiety and depression can become debilitating, affecting your sleep and inner peace.

Here are some ways to calm your mind and body before you hit the hay:

Use Distraction and Processing Techniques

Anxiety often creates a spiral of overwhelming thoughts and worst-case scenarios that make it impossible for you to relax. When you find yourself unable to redirect your thoughts, experts recommend using distraction techniques to shift your focus.

  • Write it out: Journaling can be an effective and useful method for processing thoughts, particularly negative patterns and self-talk. Experts recommend journaling to help cope with stress and depression, recognize priorities, fears, and concerns, and improve mood.

Entertainment: If your thoughts are racing, it’s best to shift your focus onto something completely different. Try turning on some comfort TV or a lighthearted flick. Research shows watching television before bed may disrupt your internal clock, but also grant a chance for relaxation for most adults. Other more helpful options are to read a book, listen to music, or a podcast.

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Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Your room is supposed to be a sanctuary for relaxation that prepares you for optimal sleep. It’s best to separate your work environment from your sleep one. Whether you work from home or spend the day there, it’s best to designate a particular area in your home or room specifically for work or spend the workday elsewhere, like at a coffee shop or in a common room.

  • Aroma and noise therapy: Research has shown that aromatherapy, particularly lavender essential oil, reduces symptoms of anxiety without contributing to adverse side effects like dependency, sedation, or withdrawal. Invest in a diffuser, or listen to binaural beats or soothing sounds to help calm your mind and snooze without disruption.
  • Cozy up: Do you have enough comfortable pillows? Is your current pillow or mattress contributing to a lack of comfort? Do you have enough blankets and a fluffy comforter? Make your bed a haven, and ensure that your room is at a comfortable, cool temperature to avoid heat disruption throughout the night.

Prepare Your Body for Relaxation

Regular diet, exercise, and sleep are essential to maintaining proper mental health. Your body must be fully relaxed before you try to fall asleep for a quality night of rest. Avoid drinking too much caffeine in the afternoon and any before bed so that your brain and body can turn off more easily.

  • Exercise: Break a sweat to burn out any lingering energy that you’ve held onto throughout the day. If you’re not a fan of working out at night, try some low-impact exercises like yoga or stretching to prepare your body for relaxation.
  • No work zone: They say that you should reserve your bed for sleep and sex only. We all have those days where we’d rather be in bed all day, but regularly, it’s best to avoid catching up on work, or a project, in bed.
  • Try supplements: Certain supplements can help promote better sleep and relax your body in preparation for a good night’s sleep. CBD and melatonin have all been shown to help reduce stress and promote better sleep before bed. Certain teas, chamomile, in particular, are associated with relaxation.