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A Nighttime Routine To Help You Lessen Anxiety About Going To Work

by Jun 1, 2023Blog0 comments

It can be a vicious cycle. Work makes you anxious, and all day long, all you do is dream of getting home and getting into bed and relaxing. The workday is finally done, you log off, but you can’t relax. You crawl into bed, but you still can’t relax. You want to pull your hair out! “This is what I’ve been dreaming about all day; why can’t I sleep,” you scream to yourself.

It has been a stressful three years between the pandemic, shutdown, political climate, economy, and now mass lay-offs. It can feel overwhelming just getting up in the morning to go to work. If you’re having a hard time at work, you may feel like you don’t have a lot of control right now, but the one thing you have complete control over is your nighttime routine, and your nighttime routine can really affect the quality of your sleep. The better sleep you get, the better you’ll feel at work and the less anxiety you’ll feel. 

One of the key symptoms of anxiety is having trouble sleeping. When we feel anxiety, our body releases hormones that are very helpful in a dangerous situation, like adrenaline. But when you have chronic anxiety, and you’re on edge all the time about a toxic boss or looming deadlines, that same hormone isn’t so helpful. Those same hormones are making it hard for you to relax. 

If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, try this:

Five-Step Nighttime Routine

Step 1: Get the Junk Out

About 10-15 minutes before you’re ready to fall asleep, it’s time to let go of the junk from today and create something better for yourself tomorrow. Grab a notebook and a pen, set a timer for three minutes, and journal. Journaling is one of the easiest ways to get all of the negative thoughts and feelings out of your head.

It’s incredibly helpful to simply write out everything you’ve been thinking because it releases its power over you. Oftentimes, you’re able to see what’s bothering you isn’t as worrisome as it felt inside your head. You want to think about each night’s sleep, like cleaning up the kitchen. Each time you clean up, you’re throwing out things you no longer want or need because if you don’t, they will rot and start to smell. You want to do the same for your thoughts.

Step 2: Plan Your Day

Now that you’ve gotten rid of any thoughts and/or feelings that you need to let go of, it’s time to plan your day. You may be someone who does this as soon as they log off at work, and if you are, that’s great. If you’re not, this is a really helpful tool for anyone who struggles with organization because you want to have a game plan when you get to work in the morning.

This doesn’t mean that things aren’t going to come up that are going to throw you off, but what you want to do is think about what you need to do, what meetings you have, and make sure you schedule when you’re going to work on that proposal, when you’re going to respond to emails, when you’re going to prepare for that presentation, so when you open your laptop, you know what you’re doing.

Anxiety is about control or the lack of control. The more you can focus on the things you can control at work, the less anxious you will feel, and when things do come up that you didn’t expect, it won’t impact you the same way.

Step 3: Wind it Down

Do you remember when you were a kid, and your parents put you to bed? They might have you take a bath, put you in pajamas, get you some warm milk, dim the lights, and read you a bedtime story. They were soothing you to sleep. When the story was over and if your eyes were still open, they might read another one, or they would sing you a song and rub your back until you fell into dreamland. Why do we think, now that we’re adults, we don’t still need that?

Here we are 30 years later with smartphones in our faces and laptops on our beds, listening to gruesome true crime stories, juggling five different group texts, and scrolling through Instagram and Tiktok at 1 a.m. And we’re mad at ourselves because we’re struggling to fall asleep at night.

The key is to start creating your own wind-down time, not wine-down, wind-down time. Pick a time that you know you should be going to sleep to get enough rest and give yourself at least an hour, and that’s the time when you need to close the laptop, make a cup of decaf tea, or something else if you hate tea, dim the lights and put on what you’re going to wear to bed. Definitely no more work for the day, but if you have a favorite show, this would be the time to watch it. Put your phone down. No more social media or text threads; just focus on one thing at a time.

Step 4: Visualize Calm

After you’ve planned your day, take a few minutes and close your eyes and visualize yourself waking up in the morning. See yourself waking up well-rested. You feel great, and you’re happy to start the day. See yourself get out of bed with energy and happiness. Whatever you planned for yourself the next day, visualize yourself going through that routine with grace, calm, and happiness – you at your best.

If you wake up in the morning and think, “Ugh, this day is going to suck!” Your day will suck. It will suck because you decided, before anything happened, it was going to suck. You determine your reality, so start visualizing yourself waking up and feeling amazing, in control and calm; no anxiety in sight.

Step 5: Let Go

Finally! It’s time to go to sleep. Turn off the lights and go to sleep. Or put on a podcast – no true crime, please. Or read a book until you’re sleepy. Even better, maybe listen to a relaxing meditation.

Sleep is critical not only to your success at work but to your mental health. Right now, it may feel like the world is out of control, so the best thing you can do for yourself is focus on what’s within your control: get a good night’s sleep.



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