A good morning starts in the evening. And the right evening routine will make the difference between a lackluster day, and a day where you smash every single task on your to-do list and wake up with a positive mindset. Your day is only as good as the night before, after all, so consider this an important reminder to plan your evening routine just as rigorously as you plan that perfect morning.
Actually, sleep and evening routines are more important than ever. Neurologist Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep was an instant bestseller, and there’s a reason for it. Many people don’t even know that having too little sleep can seriously affect their health. With so many people struggling to get the right amount of sleep that helps them actually feel rested, it’s time to revolutionize your evening routine and actually rest.
1. SET YOUR PRIORITIES
The first thing to do in the evening, before you start unwinding and relaxing, is set your priorities for the next day. You need to think of three important things you need to get done the next day and write them down in your planner or notebook. By getting them out of your head and onto paper, you won’t have to worry about the things you need to do and can focus solely on relaxing.
This is a good time to fill in a stress/worry journal, empty your mind of all those nagging little thoughts and instead focus on getting a restful sleep and having a brilliant evening. That way, you’ll be in a great mood and feel prepared for the day ahead and won’t waste any energy in the morning or in the evening thinking about your plan for the day.
2. GET YOUR PERFECT EVENING READY
Think about your perfect evening ritual, build it, and then try it out. What would your ideal evening from 5 PM onwards look like? Of course, be realistic about it, if you have kids to put to bed, a crazy dog, or responsibilities, it needs to work around those things. This could be a face mask, a nice sleep tea, a bubble bath, your favorite show or a book and bed. Or it could be spending time with friends and family, having dinner together, going out to eat. There really are no rules on what your idea of the perfect evening is. Sometimes it’s nice to go out and treat yourself to something, a manicure, a face mask, these things remind you to make yourself number one for an evening and unwind.
There’s nothing like spending time with yourself and treating yourself to what you want. To have the perfect evening ritual tonight, get your ritual essentials ready so you’re not running around the house looking for things. Get everything together in one place and give yourself something to look forward to.
3. DO THINGS THAT GIVE BACK TO YOU
Sleep is so important, but it’s often not enough to restore you after a busy day. The ultimate relaxing evening routine actually needs to contain something that allows your mind to switch off. Journaling, painting by numbers, coloring, there are so many activities that will restore your energy of an evening and give you some pep in your step for the next day.
Don’t write off an evening work out, either, it could be just the thing to send you into a deep, restful sleep. Try out some new hobbies in the evenings after work and on weekends and see which one helps you to reflect, switch off, and get some much needed rest. You won’t know how your evening routine will transform you until you try new things. One good way of making sure you’re caring for your own needs is to write down your ‘needs bars’. Start with a list like, health, happiness, creativity, learning, and see how much you fill them up every day. You need to add a little bit towards each needs bar to truly benefit from it, so make sure that you’ve been creative, laughed, learned something new, had time for yourself, and even worked out or eaten well every day to fill up those needs. You’ll be happier and have a much more relaxed evening if you’re doing things that give back to yourself.
4. SWITCH OFF FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
Mindfulness means so many different things to many different people. You don’t have to go into full on meditation mode, but have a light dinner to help you sleep better (at least two hours before bed) and pick an activity that helps you get that headspace. An audiobook, mindfulness app, gratitude diary, or simply a good book can help you do this.
It might be a really good idea to step away from technology, shutting your phone in another room or turning it off altogether. Many studies have shown that the more social media participants used, the less sleep they were getting. The blue light of most devices disrupts the brains natural sleep/wake cycle, and the instantaneous nature of social media means it can be addictive to constantly refresh what’s there. Ban social media after a certain time if you want to get restful sleep in the evening, relax, and actually switch off.
5. GIVE YOUR BRAIN CUES
Doing the same things every evening will help give your body the cues that it’s time to switch off and get ready for bed. A warm bath, a cup of chamomile tea, a few drops of lavender essential oil and a natural moisturizer, these are all things that will slow you down, and give your brain cues that it’s almost time to go to sleep. You might also want to invest in a light you can dim and change the color of, as the darker and deeper you set your light, the easier it is to sleep.
You might find that night time journaling will really help you to sleep and process your thoughts. I write for ten minutes in my Make It Happen notebook before bed, just writing down ideas I have, things I want to do this week, how I’ll get stuff done, what I need to do, and anything else that comes into my head. By the time the ten minutes has passed, I’m exhausted and ready to go straight to sleep.
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