Trouble relaxing? We asked 7 high-flyers to share how they make the switch from on to offline
Finding it hard to switch from weekday to weeknight mode? You’re not alone. With life increasingly feeling more online than off, finding some calm amidst the daily chaos is becoming harder and harder to do.
So to help you rediscover your personal roadmap to relaxation, we asked 7 successful women to share their secrets for switching off. From dealing with social media to their pre-bed rituals, here’s how they help cultivate a healthier relationship with phone, laptop, diary and mind.
Natalie Lukaitis, Digital Beauty Editor at Marie Claire
“The nature of my job means I need to be up to date with what’s happening on social media, but I also have two very impressionable children who I need to set a good example for, so I have times I allow myself to check social media – on my train to work in the morning, after lunch and after dinner. Apart from that, I try to switch off during the day.
If I’m really wound up and need to get into a relaxed state pretty quickly, I close my eyes and focus on my breathing. My friend, Fern, is a yoga teacher and she taught me some great breathing techniques to get my balance back. I also burn a lot of candles. My collection is slightly out of control, but they can honestly change the whole atmosphere of a room. My current favourite is Le Labo Santal 26 , £51 - you can really smell its rich essential oils.
I try to not look at my phone at least an hour before bed; so I check social media, get back to anyone who’s texted me and set my alarm well before I head upstairs. I also like to give myself a facial massage before bed too – I find it relaxes my muscles and gets me into a relaxed state.
In terms of prep for the next day, straight after dinner I get organised (so I can hang out with my family before bed). I pack my bag, make sure I have my Oyster card and headphones on the kitchen bench and pick out my clothes and hang them on my wardrobe door so that everything is ready to go in the morning. I love my sleep, so having it all set means I can get an extra 10 minutes!
My favourite place to go to switch off? Nothing quite beats sitting on the grass in the park. I used to live just down the road from Primrose Hill and now I’m right on Peckham Rye Common. I’ve always made sure I live within a short distance to a park because it’s the best place to find your centre again.”
Millie Kendall MBE, co-founder of BeautyMART
“I love social media, it is how I stay connected to friends and family and work colleagues and even people who inspire me. I don’t have an obvious cut off time or a way that I disengage (although I tend to go to bed quite early and am often up at 5/6am). But some social media platforms I use for work and some for pleasure. So I disengage from Twitter in my down time and our work Instagram and Snapchat. But my personal Instagram and Facebook are an extension of my life - there is no obligation to post but my family and a lot of my friends live outside of the UK and quite a few on the west coast of the US, so it’s a way of sharing family experiences when you live in varying time zones.
I check all emails that come in after hours and respond to most, I always clear my inbox and those I need to deal with later on when I am actually physically in the office get marked as unread.
I am not a fan of electronics in the bedroom, so there’s no TV and often I leave my phone to charge in the kitchen. I do like reading and can devour a book a week easily. It really helps me to relax. I am not a massive TV viewer; we watch Apple TV or Netflix in our house and sometimes to relax if the weather isn’t nice I can binge watch a Netflix series. At night I have two simple rituals: one is I cannot go to bed without hot water or herbal tea. It is a bit of a joke in our house and my boyfriend says I can’t go to bed without my sippy cup.
I also do yoga in the evening a couple of times a week with my 9 year old daughter. It is our thing - we roll out our matts in the bedroom, slip into the computer a Nadia Narain yoga video and wind down…
Once a week, normally Sunday evenings, I do a more elaborate bedtime skincare routine, just in preparation for the week ahead. This is my time to do any skin or body treatment that I don’t have time for during the week. I am not a bath and candles type of person, but I do have a dressing table in my bedroom and one of my ‘me-time’ rituals is after my shower being alone to prepare myself for about 20 minutes in the morning. It is extremely peaceful and it is where I plan my day.
I switch off at weekends in general, I have had a rule since I had my first daughter that the weekends were a time to NOT work. I am quite strict about this, and only on very rare occasions do I work. This is not to say I don’t send emails to the team and share press coverage of our brands etc. But I don’t feel pressured. Which is the goal really, to alleviate the week’s pressure.”
Anya Lahiri, Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer and Nike NTC Elite Trainer
“I wish I had more structure with my personal social media accounts. As every work day is different, there are no set times when I check my Instagram or Twitter; I just do it as and when I have time. This means that it can get quite overwhelming, especially now I have a new baby. I try to post something at least once a day on Instagram and check my messages morning, lunch and at night. Dinner is my cut off, once I've got my baby to bed I try and switch off from work too and get at least a couple of hours of 'ME' time before I am on baby duty again!
My pre-bed rituals have changed a bit over the last 4 months as I now have to include my baby into my routine. I normally sterilise bottles and get everything ready for the night. Then I look after myself, wash my face with Avène cleanser, use Cult 51 moisturiser and serum and brush my teeth. Lastly I kiss my animals, husband and baby goodnight.
If I'm struggling to sleep, which happened a lot during my pregnancy, I listen to a hypno CD that gets me into a deep sleep really quickly. I only get a couple of hours before my baby wakes up so I cherish every tiny bit these days.
I always have my classes and playlists planned for the next day and make sure my computer is charged, watch is working and I'm all set and ready to kick some bootcamp butt. Even now I still get an adrenaline rush and pre-class nerves so I like to make sure I am fully prepared with nothing to worry about.
I am not a big routine person so I never normally plan my week; plans tend to happen organically and I gradually fill up my schedule around my classes. Every day is different with work which is one of the reasons I love it.”
Elissa El Hadj, Founder of FORM studios
“As social media is such an integral platform for businesses today, I am/FORM is very active on it, particularly on Instagram and Facebook. However, I only established a personal account 8 months ago. A little late in the game. Admittedly, I was resistant at first, being aware of the time and dedication it requires - having opened FORM only last year, I felt I had other priorities. I think it is necessary to be disciplined with only allocating a finite amount of time to social media daily and to not get carried away with it. Before you know it, hours have gone by - which can be easily done. So I allocate 30 minutes a day and stick to it.
This year, it was also my New Year’s resolution to gradually ween myself off all tech by 9pm. Only now is that starting to happen. Next year, it will be 8pm! It is so important for the sake of your wellbeing and preserving relationships with loved ones that your life is a little more multi-dimensional.
Every week I arrange a two hour couples’ massage with my husband with dinner afterwards. It really is time well spent. My body feels ‘fixed’ afterwards and nerves and stress obliterated. I love walks in the park with my dogs and cuddles with them always settles me down too. Baths in the evening with Epsom or magnesium salts is very relaxing before bed and helps release tension as I am on my feet virtually all day from 6am to 9 30pm.
Aside from my bath and face cleansing rituals at night, I read for 30 minutes and then I’m out like a light! Thankfully, I've never been afflicted with insomnia. I am a very good sleeper. You can always see and feel the benefits of a good night’s sleep!
I prep for the next day by consulting my diary the night before to see what meetings lie ahead. I see which private clients I am working with, which classes I am teaching and then plan accordingly. I never do the same routine twice in a row as boredom sets in and variation is key to keeping sessions interesting and constantly evolving. I too, like to be kept on my toes and mentally challenged!
I have learned to take one day at a time so as to not get overwhelmed with the volume of things on my to-do list and ensure I prioritise what needs to be done.”
Peony Lim, Digital Influencer
“I actually have a bedtime alarm. It sounds insane but I found working for myself, it was really difficult to call it a day - I would stay up super late working or catching up on things and then before I knew it, I was exhausted. So now, I have an alarm that goes off every night at 10.30pm so I can tell myself, ‘Okay, it’s getting late, finish up what you’re doing, if you want a bath, get up or just head home if you’re out.’ It’s not cool but it works.
Reading, watching my favourite shows or movies or best of all, a long dog walk switches me off. I find the change in location really helps - getting up and out.
I relax most in a bath - I love to have lots of special bath products. I also like cooking and making something new each time is a relaxing experience. Often I ring friends to catch up, watch YouTube, read or just doze off. All are relaxing in different ways.
I don’t really have bedroom technology rules but I do when eating out. I hate the idea of both people being on the phone and no one talking and interacting, so I make sure to have my phone on the table (weirdly this way it’s less distracting) but I never sit and scroll.”
Annee de Mamiel, acupuncturist, aromatherapist and facialist
“I find switching off really hard. While the office is on the farm, our production is still done at home, so trying to separate the space of my time and work time gets a little tricky! This is why my morning ritual is so important as well as breathing and fresh air to keep healthy. When I get up, I make a glass of warm water and lemon as it kick-starts your liver and the detoxification process. Then, I sit down and write my journal or morning pages to clear my head and enable me to sit at ease and do my meditation. It really helps me feel centred and grounded for the day ahead.
At the end of the day, I like to spend time with my husband catching up on the day. Fresh food is so important and I love cooking. I also love reading and any opportunity I have, we like to get out on the water to sail.
In order to stay well so I can do the best job possible, I go to the following people: Pam who owns Mortar & Milk for facials, Perry James for massages, Dominic Cheetham for my back and I check in with Eve Kalinik for all things nutrition. They are people who I really believe in and in what they do.
Being on and a part of social media is not something that comes naturally to me, so I am quite disciplined about switching off from it. It’s the emails that I am more connected to and the stress from the day that I hold onto. Being mindful to breathe properly helps to de-stress me.
Before I go to bed I have a cleansing routine. For me, the ritual of using a cleansing balm with facial massage is about the inhaling of the aroma to release the stress of the day and wiping it away with the grime. Breathing in the scent is just as important as the massage. The essential oils formulated in my balm were blended not only for their regenerative properties but for the emotional ones as well; so by deep breathing it really helps to centre and ground me, bring calmness to the nervous system, release tension and help me to sleep better. It also helps move stagnant energy and delivers an increase in oxygen to cells.
I like to put out my clothes the night before and I sleep with the curtains open with a window open at night, even in the winter, as I love the fresh air.”
Wendy Rowe, makeup artist
“To relax, I like to watch TV, go for dinner with friends and I also find playing sport really relaxing - I love tennis and being outside, it makes me feel good. I don't really have any set rules when it comes to social media, but I only interact with it when I have free time or down time in my schedule. I always try to fully commit to whatever I'm doing, so if I'm out with friends for dinner for instance then I'll be switched off from my social media so that I can focus my full attention on that moment.
Before bed, I always cleanse, tone and moisturise my skin, and of course brush my teeth! That's all a must. I take Sarah Chapman's Sleep Tablets as I find that they help me have a really good night's sleep and sometimes I read a little to help me drift off. If I want to wake up feeling really focused and happy, then I meditate before bed too. You would think I would meditate every night so that I always wake up feeling happy - and I would like to, but it takes time to get into meditation and there isn't always time.
I try not to watch anything too exciting on TV before bed as it stimulates my mind, although that doesn't always work out as I couldn't resist staying up to watch Andy Murray's Olympic final the other night! I try to lay out my gym kit or my outfit the night before so that it's easy to get up and go - especially when I'm travelling for work. I do that as call times are usually really early and it's important to be ready and prepared for the day.”
Eat Beautiful by Wendy Rowe (Ebury Press, £20).