While most people know about the power of morning routines, the majority ignores what’s actually even more important: The evening before.
Starting a day full of joy is only possible if you go to bed with satisfaction and get a good night’s sleep. Yet most people spend their evenings engaging in unhealthy activities, get too little rest, and then wonder why they lack energy in the morning.
A proper evening ritual can set the tone for a successful day and help you in staying calm, productive, and effective. A perfect morning can’t make up for a good evening routine.
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And while the morning rituals of successful people are widely known, most of them also practice evening routines:
- Arianna Huffington disconnects in the evenings by turning off her phone and laptop.
- Bill Gates is known for reading until he falls asleep.
- Oprah uses evenings for her meditation practice.
So, if your mornings or even days lately suck, the solution might lie in improving your evenings through a few simple changes. If practiced correctly, a proper bedtime routine will help you to wake up with more ease and start your day with a relaxed mind.
While nighttime routines like reading or personal care are well-known, here are a few rituals that are less-known, yet priceless.
Give yourself a massage
While an excessive workout in the evening might harm the quality of your sleep, a massage can be priceless.
Particularly if you have an office job and spend most of your days sitting, your body will thank you for releasing muscle tightness at the end of your day.
Besides the benefits of typical stretching exercises, a foam roller helps ease muscle pain, increase flexibility and blood flow, and help you relax.
You can get a foam roller for low costs and even a ten-minute massaging routine can help to calm down and let go of physical and mental tension.
To build a stretching routine that sticks like glue, come up with a few details that will help you look forward to your daily massage. Create a playlist that helps you calm down and create a sacred place to carry out your new routine (even if it’s just the corner of your bedroom). For instance, place your favorite candles, essential oils, or some motivational quotes and pictures in that corner so that you enjoy your me-time while doing good for your body and mind.
While most of us know that we should be eliminating our devices from our bedroom, the majority fails in doing so.
Instead of shutting down our smart devices and taking some sacred time, we chose to answer one more email and scroll through the newsfeed for a few more minutes.
The truth, however, is that your evening screen time might be the greatest reason for lousy sleep and waking up exhausted instead of energized.
The blue light emitted by our devices harms the production of melatonin, which is our sleep hormone, and thus makes sleeping well harder.
Plus, engaging with our devices late at night keeps our brains alert. Even though watching your favorite movie or typing a few messages might not seem like a big deal, it is.
Browsing through the web is keeping your brain active while all you need after a busy day is to disconnect and unwind.
“Disconnecting from our technology to reconnect with ourselves is absolutely essential.”
— Arianna Huffinton
Instead of spending your precious time and energy scrolling through newsfeeds, focus on feeling well and taking some time off.
One major mistake many people make is answering emails or checking other work-related stuff on their phones until the minute they sleep in.
Let’s be honest: You don’t need to do that. Instead of taking your work to bed, focus on increasing your productivity throughout the day.
Pro tip: If you really can’t stop using your devices, at least install a blue light blocker on your screens (for example, f.lux). By doing so, your screens will turn into a red light, which is less harmful to your body and sleep.
Most phones already have a “night feature”, which also reduces the emission of blue light. I don’t enjoy these sleep modes, but if you can’t fully disconnect, blue light blockers are way better than being fully exposed to the light of your screens.
Examine your day
While we sleep, our brains process all the information we consumed throughout the day.
As you can imagine, that’s tough. It’s exhausting. And even though it helps us to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information, it doesn’t help much when it comes to our emotions and personal success.
Therefore, a daily reflection is critical to analyze your success and see what you could further improve. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:
“Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two.”
Evenings are the perfect time to do a little self-reflection and see how far you’ve come during the day.
By asking yourself a few simple questions, you’ll help your brain to finish up with the day and relax.
For example, you could ask yourself the following questions, and either respond to them in your mind or write the answers down in a journal:
What did I achieve today? What am I proud of?
What went wrong? What could be done better?
What prevented me from giving my best today?
“At the end of each day, you should play back the tapes of your performance. The results should either applaud you or prod you.”
— Jim Rohn
Self-reflection looks different for everyone. You can answer these questions in five minutes, or spend an hour asking yourself what you could’ve done better.
The only rule to follow is shameless honesty. Sometimes, honest self- reflection needs to hurt, go deep, and make you feel bad so that you can come back even stronger.
Prepare the next day
Once you’re done reflecting on the day, the best thing you can do is planning for tomorrow.
Preparing your to-do list on the night before, having a look at your calendar, and arranging all the things you’ll need the next day (e.g., your clothes) can level-up your life in many aspects.
Too often, we spend our evenings worrying about the next day. We think of all the stuff we need to get done and stress ourselves before the day even starts. That’s why actively planning the next day and actually preparing everything in advance can be a massive relief.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
— Alan Lakein
Once you’ve written your tasks down, you don’t have to think about them anymore. You can trust your piece of paper, your notebook, or your digital task management system and enjoy the rest of your evening in peace.
If you don’t have a proper system for organizing your to-do’s yet, I can highly recommend the Ivy Lee Method, a simple yet effective way to write to-do lists.
Calm your mind
We all face negativity throughout our days. Even if you are an unbroken optimist, you’ll come across annoying people, and most of the time, that’s okay.
Letting this negativity get over you, however, isn’t okay.
At the latest in the evening, you should let go of all the negative feelings you had throughout your day, calm your mind, and raise your vibration.
One of the most effective strategies to ensure a calm mind is meditation. Even a five-minute guided meditation can help you to release tension and let go of negativity.
Another helpful strategy I often apply is journaling.
By writing down everything that crosses your mind, you can effectively let go of tension and negative thoughts.
If you want to go one step further, you can write all your anger down on a piece of paper and then burn it down. Literally, burn the piece of paper. By doing so, you physically let go of the problem.
“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges.”
— Bryant McGill
Prepare for high-quality sleep
Poor sleep quality is one of the main reasons why we feel exhausted and lack energy throughout our days.
Getting at least six to eight hours of sleep is essential, but besides the quantity, the quality of your sleep also matters.
Here’s how you can easily improve your sleep and wake up energized:
- Dim the lights at least 30 minutes before going to bed. By doing so, you ensure your body calms down and gets ready for sleep mode.
- Avoid your phone and other screens: As discussed, blue light harms the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and leads to poor sleep quality.
- Make sure to sleep in a dark and utterly noise-free environment. If that’s not possible, grab a sleeping mask and a pair of earplugs.
- Avoid big meals for at least two hours before bedtime.
- If you struggle to sleep in, avoid exercising in the evening as this brings your heartbeat up and calming down becomes more difficult.
“The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.”
— Arianna Huffington
A proper evening routine doesn’t need to be complex or exhausting. On the contrary: It can even be fun and bring joy into your life.
Disconnecting, reflection, preparation, calming my mind, and preparing for high-quality sleep are inevitable parts of my evenings.
Yet, what works for me doesn’t necessarily need to work for you. So, take your time to experiment with different rituals until you find one that truly fits your needs and helps you to live a happier, more joyful life.
Choose one or two new routines every week and try out different combinations until you find a pattern that helps you increase your wellbeing and performance throughout your days.
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