Set Yourself Up for Success with an Evening Routine
Let’s face it, a decent amount of the population do not leap out of bed willingly at 5am eager to greet a new day. If you are one of those people more naturally inclined to sleep a little later, then you probably don’t want to read another post about the benefits of a morning routine – something that seems to always be circulating on repeat in the wellness world! Sure, having a morning routine and priming yourself for the day ahead does have significant benefits. But guess what? So too does an evening routine. Wellness is not ‘one size fits all’, and working with your natural rhythms and energy levels will ensure that you find consistency and joy in making wellness a priority, rather than constantly beating yourself up for hitting the snooze button!
Perhaps you are a morning person however your early morning hours are filled to the brim with commitments and responsibilities. Waking up a household, getting a family organised for the day and getting to work on time can leave very little time for those morning meditations and matcha lattes! If this is the case for you, an effective nighttime routine may also be more suited to you.
Remember as a child yourself, there was likely a routine to getting ready for bed. Bath time, brushing teeth, pajamas on, having a nighttime story, switching off the lights- we tend to lose any semblance of a nighttime routine as adults and simply collapse in bed at the end of a long day! We spend all day on the go, reach for a glass of wine to unwind, then spend our last waking moments scrolling through irrelevant social media on our phones before the alarm goes off again! Sound familiar?
Developing and implementing a night time routine can offer your adult self proper rest and enhanced wellness. Do bare in mind, like all routines, an evening routine isnt always easy and does require discipline. Just like a morning routine requires you to get up and at it, an evening routine asks you to commit to activities that will support you, even though you may prefer the idea of netflix and pizza come the end of a busy day or week! Try starting small and discovering the benefits for yourself. Chances are very quickly you will be sleeping better, waking easier, and setting yourself up for a productive and calm day ahead.
Are you ready? Here are 10 ways to develop an evening wellness routine
Make The Switch
First things first, when you arrive home for the evening, whether you are coming home from work, have just scooped the kids up from their final after school activity, or are walking in the door with bags of groceries, make a clear distinction between the day that has been and the evening to come. Walk through the door and take a few deep breaths. Make a conscious effort to invite a more peaceful mindset into the remainder of the day and evening. Have a quick shower to wash off the day. Get changed into something comfortable and practical. Put on some music, have a big glass of water, take a few moments to let go of anything that happened during the day that created stress or frustration. Switch off your computer and avoid checking emails or taking work related calls after you get home.
A Healthy Nourishing Dinner
Whenever possible, make it a priority to cook yourself/your household, a healthy delicious meal. This doesn’t have to be a five star, three course banquet. Focus on simple wholefoods and try to avoid processed foods or fast foods. Have a variety of go-to healthy recipes for when you have busy days and little time. Try and be prepared so that when you arrive home you don’t have to go back out and shop or you don’t feel tempted to dial up takeaway! Try not to eat too late as this can disrupt your sleep. Make an effort to make mealtimes relaxed and enjoyable, whether it is just you or you have the company of family, friends or housemates. Finally, make sure you clean up after your meal- there is nothing worse than waking to a sink full of dishes to start the day! If you have leftovers, bonus! Pack them into a container for lunch tomorrow.
Limit Your Screen Time
For many of us, winding down at the end of the day often means relaxing in front of the TV, diving into Netflix on our laptop, or scrolling through social media on our phones. Unfortunately, these habits can be detrimental to a good nights sleep and therefore affect your mood and energy levels the next day. Try to turn off your devices and screens at least an hour or ideally a couple of hours prior to bed. The blue light from electronics interferes with the production of melatonin, a hormone necessary for restful sleep, and keeps the brain active which can also make falling asleep all that much harder. Switch your phone off or onto airplane mode to avoid you picking it up mindlessly. Wondering what to do in the evenings in the absence of technology? Don’t worry, we have some suggestions!
Meditation or Yoga Nidra
The benefits of meditation are truly life changing. While it can be hard to fit in a morning meditation practice, the evening can be a perfect time to enjoy a meditation or a yoga nidra practice. Even just meditating for 10 minutes in the evening will help you to switch off and move into a space of calm clarity. While we did just say to limit technology, it can be helpful in the evening to help you find great meditation apps and online programs that can be handy if you are new to meditation. Try downloading an app, hopping onto the bed or a comfy seat, popping your earplugs in, and zoning out. Yoga Nidra is a beautiful practice to try in the evenings and can be incredibly helpful for anyone with trouble sleeping. Again, there are plenty of yoga nidra sessions that you can download and listen to.
Herbal Tea & Hydration
Experts advise to avoid caffeine after 4pm. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to scale that time back to around noon. In the evening, opt for a herbal, caffeine free tea that will help you to not only unwind, but also sleep well. Chamomile is terrific for those who suffer from insomnia. Herbal tea can also be a good way to avoid snacking or reaching for sugary foods in the evening. Licorice tea or peppermint tea are wonderful as they have a gentle sweetness to them. Also keep in mind that the quality of sleep depends a lot on the hydration of your body. While you dont want to be drinking liters of water the moment before you head to bed, staying hydrated with water throughout the evening is best. If you do drink alcohol in the evening, make sure to have an extra glass of water to rehydrate before your head hits the pillow.
If your brain is overly active in the evenings, try and create a simple to-do list for the next day. Even keep a pen and notebook beside your bed so as things come to you in the evening, you can jot them down so you don’t have to worry about forgetting them by the morning. Another great tip is to simply plan out your 3 most important tasks for tomorrow. This is a great tip for those who are not always highly alert in the earlier hours of the day! This takes the decision making out of the game and gives you clear direction to boost your morning productivity without time wasted procrastinating! If you use a diary, make sure you have everything jotted down in terms of meetings, deadlines, activities or appointments. Feeling organised in the evening can give you a great headstart on the day to come.
Without the distractions of technology, you now have several indulgent hours to fill in ways that can support your wellbeing- body, mind and soul. Try taking a soothing bath with epsom salts and essential oils. Enjoy a face mask or give yourself a gentle oil massage. Dive into a great novel, do a simple gratitude practice by listing the things you are most grateful for that day, or listen to some inspiring music or podcast. Work on a passion project. If you have children, a family, housemates, a partner, find some things that you love to do together and make the evenings a enjoyable, relaxing time for everyone. If you have children, you can also choose one of the above wellness practices to enjoy once they head off to bed as a self-care treat.
Gentle Restorative Yoga
Exercise isn’t really recommended 2 hours prior to bed, but gentle yoga poses can actually be a wonderful way to unwind the body and the mind in the evening and can support sleep rather than detract from it. Incorporating a restorative yoga practice into your nightly routine can help you recharge your batteries so you have a fresh store of natural, vibrant energy at the start of each new day. Try holding gentle, seated or reclined poses for at least 5 minutes each with the use of props to enhance comfort and a conscious focus on the breath. Even just laying on your back with your legs up against the wall is a wonderfully soothing pre-bed ritual. These poses will help you calm your mind and nervous system, release any tension in your physical body and may help you to release deeper emotions that have built up over the day.
Preparation is Key
While we talked about list making and preparing for what the next day will bring, there are a few more steps you can take to really set yourself up for a stress-free morning. Try laying out your clothes for the next day, packing your bag, making your lunch, packing gym clothes if you plan on sneaking in a workout in your lunch break. Taking these small steps will help you to climb into bed feeling truly organised and prepared. It may even allow you an extra 10 minutes sleep in the morning (now that’s incentive!) When you don’t have a million things to do upon waking, it’s easier to slip into a deep sleep, and waking up won’t seem like a chore if you set yourself up for success.
Just like our morning routines set the tone for a successful day, creating a nighttime routine can really prepare you for a successful rest and productive, stress-free and enjoyable day to follow. If adding another routine to your day sounds daunting, just pick one task from above to incorporate into your night and take it from there. It’s far better to choose smaller, easier to complete goals that will give you a sense of achievement. Chances are, as soon as you start to enjoy the benefits of your evening routine, it will become easier and easier to commit to.