5 Steps to a better evening routine.
You might’ve already seen my mindful morning routine, where I touch on the importance of the way in which we choose to start our day. With this being said, as important as morning rituals are it's what we do the evening before that allows us to feel rested, recharged, and ready to tackle the next day’s challenges.
Now before you say this all sounds like work and possibly the last thing you're in the mood for after a chaotic day at the office including one too many meetings that could've been handled over email. Take a minute to look at how you're currently spending the last few hours of your day. Chances are you’re already in a routine of your own.
Making dinner around 7PM is a routine, sitting on the couch watching Netflix afterward is a routine, brushing your teeth and scrolling through social media before you fall asleep is a routine. They’re all actions that happen again and again, a rhythm in your daily life.
But just because routines exist doesn't mean they’re all good- it just means they're activities being done regularly. Helpful or not, every routine is powerful.
Ideally, the best evening rituals help you reflect on your day, put you into a place of relaxation so that you can go to sleep more easily, and prepare you for the morning. (See how that all just came full circle?)
And if you're someone who struggles to fall asleep or if you're constantly tossing and turning throughout the night, you'll probably want to reevaluate what it is you're doing just before bedtime as well.
Start by setting yourself up for a productive morning.
The less time and mental energy you expend on unimportant things, the more you’ll have for the things that matter.
This doesn't mean you have to plan out your morning minute-for-minute, but setting some things in place for the next day the night before opens up a lot of time and mental space the next morning, making you feel less scrambled and overwhelmed.
You'll also come to find that it only takes a few minutes to pre-game your morning and those few Instagram or TV minutes that you need to sacrifice can only do you well.
I usually start in the kitchen by washing the day’s dishes, because there's nothing that'll kill a tranquil morning like having to fish through dirty dishes for a spoon or cereal bowl. Have a look at what your breakfast options are or prep breakfast in advance (23 healthy make-ahead breakfasts). My vitamins also get taken out of the cupboard and placed on the counter where I'll see them the next morning.
I pick out an outfit (including workout wear) and lay it out along with everything needed for the next day, like car keys and any work-related materials (laptop chargers, my notebook, water bottles, etc.)
Before I head into the bedroom, I make sure to leave my cellphone charging on airplane mode in the living room. I try my best to stay off social media at least two hours before bedtime to figuratively unplug and really invest in being present.
Prep your bedroom for the rest.
There's no denying that a calm, relaxing space will lead to falling asleep faster and help your body get the most out of sleep. Making a few changes to your sleeping environment really can make a difference if you're struggling to get a good night's rest.
I like to close my curtains and switch off the main bedroom light, leaving only the soft glow from the bedside lamps, light a candle or switch on my essential oil diffuser, leaving the smell to fill up the room whilst I’m busy with the shower and skincare routine.
Take a relaxing shower or spend a little extra time on your skincare routine.
After a warm shower, I massage my whole body with some kind of oil (I'm loving sesame at the moment) or lotion, brush my teeth and go through my current skincare routine (which you'll find over HERE).
I then jump into my favourite pj’s and fill up a glass of water to place on my bedside table for the next morning.
Read, journal or meditate.
The room's filled up with the scent of essential oils thanks to the diffuser and I take this time read, journal or meditate. It's my time to stop "doing" for a bit and just be.
When journaling, I like to ask myself a few questions about my day.
How are you feeling?
Was it a good day? If yes, why? If not, why not?
And my favourite one, taken from Benjamin Franklin; "What good have I done today?".
I love this one because we're often inclined to stress over how much we didn't get done, how unproductive we were or what's left to do tomorrow. Asking ourselves this question helps us rather shift our mindset to a more fulfilled one, by focusing on what we did manage to do and what positive impact we made on the day (or in someone else’s day).
If you're wanting to try out meditation, but not quite sure about where to start, I recommend giving Headspace a try. It's super simple and helped me loads when I wanted to start adding a meditation practice to my day. The app can walk you through 5, 10 and 20 minute meditations to help you clear your mind and wind down before bed. They also have great mindfulness and gratitude exercises, to help each day.
Usually around 10-11pm it’s light’s out and I’m ready for a good night’s rest and to take on the next day.
I share this because a wind-down routine has done wonders in actually allowing for more time and mental energy during y days and I hope it’ll take off some pressure in your busy life or even just help you fall asleep if it’s something you’ve been struggling with.
Plus it may look different for everyone, don’t just take my word for it! Look at the evening routines of some of the world’s most influential people like Tim Ferris, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Vera Wang.