Let’s talk about nightly bedtime rituals

By Nicolette Baker

The punch of a timeclock. An evening commute. Shutting off a Mac.

The physical transition from workday to something more comfortable signals a shift in thinking, especially when working from home. I love utilizing this time to create boundaries between work and relaxation, honoring my physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. 

In this way, creating a nighttime ritual is central to acknowledging the day’s stresses and revitalizing your body and soul for tomorrow. I honor my routine by sneaking little luxuries, like warm vanilla candles and soft, fluffy slippers, into my everyday. 

When slipping into a hot shower at the end of the workday, I find joy in a calming playlist and lush shower products. Dove is my go-to. While their body washes can be found at any drugstore, I find the moisturizing element and scent to be so luxurious. Finding products you enjoy — at any price point — can help to create a long-lasting ritual. 

My nightly skincare routine is, personally, extremely vital. I believe an important facet of self-care is nourishing your body every day and making steps towards a better you. While you might not see immediate results from a skincare regime, it’s an act of caring for your future self. After removing the day’s makeup and cleansing my face with a moisturizing wash, I’ll reach for a toner. I swear by Target’s store brand salicylic acid — it leaves a clean, refreshing feel — and retinol serum from The Ordinary. 

Personally, I find tactile experiences — such as the cooling rush of cold water splashed on my face or a fluffy post-shower towel — to be the most grounding. In my experience, those feelings are associated with comfort and reduced stress. Incorporating other senses, such as the smell of body spray or lavender candles, helps to solidify the goal: relaxing. 

The word “ritual” has such varied meanings across cultures, languages, locations and time. As a word, it carries the weight as something sacred. It might point to religious observations, family traditions or treasured cultural holidays. Whatever the definition, the word may also be applied to a nightly routine of self-care and self-reflection. 

After getting squeaky clean, I make journaling a priority. I’ve found it’s helpful to be utterly honest in my musings, especially if I’m the only one reading them. It’s difficult to develop as an individual without consistent and genuine work. 

Growth is slow, difficult, necessary. 

I’ve found others enjoy meditation as part of their daily routine — personally, it’s something I’ve never tried. Rituals are deeply personal and shouldn’t ever feel uncomfortable or forced. They’re also different for each person; if meditation or guided imagery is your thing, great! I would recommend including some form of self-reflection in your nightly ritual, however you do it. 

After taking that time for self-growth, I devote the rest of the night to connecting with others or enjoying a movie. I might throw on an exfoliating face mask while video chatting with my significant other or stream “Lady Bird” for the millionth time before falling asleep. 

Developing a nightly ritual is central to caring for yourself, and in turn, caring for others. It’s an overused saying, but I strongly believe you can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking some time each night to honor your body and all the amazing things it does isn’t selfish; it’s essential. 

Collage by Merci Green

Thinking of creating a ritual of your own? In creating my own nightly relaxation routine, I’ve found a few things to be helpful: 

• Gravitate towards what honors your body, mind and soul. Incorporate things you love into your routine, and don’t force anything that doesn’t feel natural. 

• Find what truly sparks joy, Marie Kondo style. Whether it’s a certain type of body lotion or a particular skincare serum, incorporate your favorite self-care products into your everyday routine. 

• Build a ritual and stick with it. A ritual is created through daily consistency — once you find a routine that you enjoy, make it a priority. 

Collage by Merci Green