While morning routines are quite well-known and popular, evening routines are way less thought-through. Morning routines may help one in being productive during the day, but they account for only 50% of the entire day’s productivity. The remaining productivity comes from a successful evening routine because it is the previous day’s routine, followed by a sound sleep, which acts as a prelude to the next day’s productivity.
It is often challenging to engage in an evening routine, especially after a hard day’s work, when you are physically and mentally tired. However, evening routines need not be as strenuous as the morning ones. One can always opt for lighter habits that set the pace for the next day. Many evening routines also help in getting a good night’s sleep. So, here are some of the ideal evening routines.
Listen to Some Music
Music is a great stress reliever. Apart from being rejuvenating, music has a direct connection with the parasympathetic nervous system, which prepares the body and mind for a peaceful sleep. Studies have shown that older adults, who had the habit of listening to music for about 45 minutes, fell asleep quicker and for longer without any disturbances, contrary to those who did not listen to music at all. Music has the power to slow down the heart rate, lower the blood pressure, and enable the muscles to relax. Though the choice of music may be a personal preference, slow tunes are considered to be the most ideal. Once a person develops this evening routine, it will easily integrate into a habit, and the body will get cues to prepare for sleep.
Spend Some Time on Personal Reflection
We cannot learn from our actions unless we try to understand them. Personal reflection is where we replay the proceedings of the day in our minds and understand our behavior. Spending some time in the evening to retrospect helps put things into perspective and better our actions and reactions towards similar situations arising in the future. The day’s events should ideally include both successes and failures. Reflecting on the achievements is an excellent form of self-motivation and encourages one to face the challenges in the upcoming day. It also helps in managing any discouragement creeping in with the inevitable setbacks.
Reflecting on the failures will also help us in looking back on our activities and deepening our understanding, thereby transforming our perspective. However, personal reflection should be practiced and perfected regularly and voluntarily without forcing yourself into it. Benjamin Franklin was a person who practiced this technique. Every night he used to ask himself the same question “What good have I done today?” Thus, reflecting on our day as a ritual will take as little as five minutes of our evening time, but will have a positive impact on the activities planned for tomorrow.
Have Early Dinner with Family
Dinner is the only time one gets to mingle with the family after the day’s rush. The time shared with the family is often only the suppertime when all the members gather in one place. Sitting together as a family for dinner helps everyone share their stresses of daily life and enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company. This habit should be inculcated more if there are kids in the house, as it will help them bond well with the parents and teach them to respect and listen to the others. However, you should make sure that you finish your dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime, as the body needs to digest the food well and cool itself off before the sleep. Successful personalities like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton consider family time as an essential part of their evening rituals. So, why not you?
Prepare the Next Day’s Goals
Spare some time in the night before your bedtime and plan your activities for the next day. Maintain a day planner or make a list of things that you have to accomplish the next day. Determining the goals and the order of their importance for the next day has twin advantages. First, this habit helps one identify the essential tasks and sequence them in the order of their priority. Second, it can save a lot of time the next day wasted in trying to figure out the problems and getting boggled by surmounting tasks.
Do Some Mild Stretching Exercises/Meditation
A little bit of stretching exercises before bedtime will go a long way in promoting healthy sleep. Try practicing some gentle yoga stretches, which induce a good night’s sleep. A few minutes of prayer or meditation are also helpful.
Brush Your Teeth and Have a Shower
Having a warm bath before bedtime helps the muscles relax and cools the body to a temperature that aids good sleep. One can also add Epsom salts to the bathwater or use some essential oils, like lavender, which help in improving sleep quality. Further, tooth brushing before bedtime is a vital hygiene practice.
Shut Off All Devices
Create a shutdown evening ritual by unplugging yourself from all your digital devices and emails, phone calls, texts, etc. Create a buffer time of at least an hour before bedtime. Ensure that you stay disconnected from all the gadgets during this time and devote it exclusively to yourself. This ‘ME-TIME’ will get your mind out of the work-mode and allow you to do something which rejuvenates your senses and relaxes your mind and body. In other words, this ME-TIME will be a declaration from your brain to your body that the working day is over.
So before you hit the bed…
Prepare for a good sleep, as it will optimize your performance for the next day. Try to maintain your sleep and wake-up schedule every day and detach any unnecessary things related to your work or office from the bedroom.
Evening routines are the real bookends for a successful day tomorrow. Building an evening routine, especially when you are back from work and tired, is not that easy, and it takes a lot of self-discipline and hard work to make it work for you. However, having said that, once you start practicing an evening routine of your choice for a good number of days, it will eventually develop into a beautiful habit, which will subconsciously keep recurring. So, stick to your evening routines and be prepared to witness tremendous changes in your life.