Taking a load off

Could something as simple as moisturising help calm the barrage of thoughts and worries before bed to make a more enjoyable bedtime?

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My bedtimes are frantic. I’ve always got one more thing to do before I fall into bed, head swirling, and ultimately I’ll forget something, telling myself, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ as I float away into unconscious bliss.

The problem with this is, with all those thoughts swirling around, they don’t actually have anywhere to go after I fall asleep, and so my nights are filled with fragmented dreams, freakishly conjoining the stories told and events of the day passed or the ones ahead, often resulting in weird dreams such as speaking animals or trying not to get caught drunk-flying by the police.

So with mindfulness and all of its stress-busting, thought-calming benefits, I decided that perhaps a mindful activity might be a good place to start switching off my thoughts before I go to sleep. Throw in a bit of pampering (who doesn’t like pampering?) and aromatherapy (everyone loves aromatherapy!), I decided that I would ‘mindfully moisturise’ every bedtime.

To moisturise mindfully, I meditatively massaged in the cream (I chose NEOM lavender, jasmine and Brazilian rosewood body lotion). I focused on my senses, trying to keep my mind concentrated on the task at hand. What does it feel like? What does it smell like? How does it look as it soaks into my skin? What colour is it? Can I pick out the jasmine, the lavender?

Of course my mind wandered; the thoughts came at me like bullets: have I packed my purse? Should I prepare my smoothie for the morning now? I must look up the train journey for tomorrow… But I carried on, noting the thoughts and put them aside until the morning. I continued asking myself, what does it smell like? How does it feel?

It takes some practice, as with any mindfulness meditation, but the physical act of moisturising makes it easier to focus, and it’s an incredible tool for mind/body reconnection when you are stuck in your head. It felt indulgent; taking the time to focus on me, something I rarely do, especially body and mind together. I loved that it was flexible and a realistic way to get back my bedtime – it could be as long or short as I needed it to be to fit into my routine.

As I lay down on my bed, I thought more with my body and less with my mind. I had distanced myself from my swirling thoughts; I had escaped my head, and my dreams were all the sweeter for it.

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Ali Roff

Dossier Editor, Psychologies