It’s probably one of the biggest hurdles in my life: I am a lifelong bad sleeper and bad relaxer who spends too much time steeped in nervous energy.
It started with sleep issues when I was around nine or 10 years old. I was an insomniac and couldn’t quiet my mind. Seems hard to believe that at that age I was consumed with this boundless energy and driven mind when most kids my age were playing with friends and sleeping 12 hours a night. By the time I was in my teens I slept very little and regularly kept a crazy schedule with school, gymnastics and part-time jobs. I was a hyper-active budding over-achiever.
Things haven’t changed very much for me. I am still a bad relaxer. I still struggle with sleep issues. Starting a company has in some ways propelled me into even less relaxation and more challenging sleep over the past few years. In my mind, there’s ALWAYS something else to do – another project to start, or one to finish.
As a founder you have to develop a tolerance for always leaving something on the table. It’s impossible to finish everything, and you have to be OK with this or you’ll work yourself to the nub. This realization has been good for me — it has taught me to be more kind and compassionate towards myself.
I have also learned that scheduling relaxation time is important, and being rigid about taking that time is paramount. You should also know what type of activities you’ll find most relaxing. For me it’s spending time in my home (my sanctuary) quiet and still or doing stuff outside. I also love cooking and find it a relaxing activity. It can be whatever inspires happy feelings and a calm demeanor.
Here are some healthy habits that Nathalie (Starling’s other founder) and I follow to combat the busy:
- Exercise is always a good choice for an ever-busy mind and body. It also improves sleep quality – decreasing the time needed to fall asleep, and also allowing for longer, sounder sleep. Studies show that exercising 4 times a week helps center your mind and focus on relaxation and breathing skills.
- Baths are a bridge to sleep hygiene and mental health. Taking a bath with our Arnica Bath Soak is a great way to get some beneficial down time. It’s loaded with magnesium – a mineral our adult bodies are lacking. Magnesium is a restorative and stress reducer that can improve your sleep. It’s also an effective detox mechanism that helps regulate hormones. Use Arnica Bath Soak in your bath 1-2 hours before before bedtime a few times a week and you’ll feel the benefits.
- Starling’s Sleep Balm is hand-crafted with essential oils that are made to induce feelings of well-being and relaxation. Used at bedtime, it can enhance your sleep quality and help you concentrate on breathing more deeply. It can also help calm a busy mind. Simply apply at temples, wrists and on your neck and under your nose. Breathe in deeply.
- Take 5 minutes during the day a few times and walk away from the computer and go outside. Soak in the sun and breathe the air. It sounds so simple, but these occasional releases during the day can really enhance feelings of well-being and boost your happiness quotient.
- In especially stressful times, it can be helpful to take melatonin in addition to an Arnica Bath. Take melatonin 1 hour prior to bedtime to capture the most benefits.
- Eat whole foods such as fatty fish (salmon), avocado, raw fruits, and vegetables. Limit refined grains, sugars and alcohol.
- Take a D3, B and Multivitamin regularly.
Our Sleep Balm and Arnica Bath Soak are part of my regular rotation. I use Sleep Balm every night at bedtime to help erase the business of the day and improve the length of time I stay asleep. I am still a work in progress for sure, but I do now know how to turn off a bit better and sleep more soundly than before, so that’s a win.
Read these links for more relaxation tips and info on the psychology of relaxation: