What does your evening routine look like?
At the end of the day are you happy to flop in front of the TV until you fall asleep, or stare at your phone until your eyes hurt?
Or do you mindfully plan your evening activities? Allowing yourself to relax and unwind, and setting yourself up for a positive morning the next day.
An evening routine not only helps you to prepare for a restful, refreshing night’s sleep, it also sets you up for a calm morning and a productive day ahead.
Creating and sticking to an evening routine, like any new habit requires a little disciple, but it is definitely something that your future-self will thank you for.
Instead of feeling tired, rushed, and frantic, you’ll start your mornings feeling calm, rested, and prepared – ready to face your day head-on.
When does an evening routine start?
Unlike a morning routine, which starts from the moment you wake up, the start time of your evening routine can be a bit more fluid.
You might like to start your evening routine as soon as you finish your workday. Or if you have young children, after they have gone to bed.
My evening routine starts after dinner has been cleared up, and takes me right up until I switch out my bedside light and go to sleep.
10 Ideas to include in your evening routine
Wondering what to include in your evening routine? Take a look at these ideas.
I’m not suggesting that you need to do all of them, or do them in any particular order, or for any set amount of time. Routines work best when they are personalised to suit you.
Remember that the overall purpose of an evening routine is to help you switch off from the day, enjoy your evening, prepare yourself for a restful sleep, and create a positive mindset for the following day.
Why not try a few ideas, experiment and find what works best for you.
1. Review your planner/schedule for tomorrow
What’s your plan for tomorrow?
Take a look at your planner or calendar to review the appointments and commitments for the next day. Where do you and/or members of your family need to be and when?
Then take a few steps to prepare for the following day:
- Check that all the appropriate clothes, shoes, and equipment you need for tomorrow clean and ready
- Pack bags with lunches, snacks, and other things you need to bring with you and place them near the door so you’ll remember to take them
- Consider whether there are any extra to-dos you need to take care of tomorrow. If so, add them to your schedule.
2. Tidy up
Do a quick tidy up, in the kitchen, bathroom and living room.
This isn’t the moment to embark on a major cleaning or decluttering spree, but clearing counters and putting things back in their place will help your morning get off to a calm and relaxed start.
3. Reflect on your day
If you reflect on the things you did right, on your successes, that allows you to celebrate every little success. It allows you to realize how much you’ve done right, the good things you’ve done in your life.Leo Babauta, Zen Habits
What have you accomplished today?
More isn’t better here – focus on quality over quantity. If you’ve accomplished one important task on your list or did one thing that made you happy, then that’s a successful day.
If you feel disappointed or frustrated about what you’ve achieved, reflect on why this is.
Perhaps you had unrealistic expectations? Did something out of your control happen? Was procrastination a problem, or did you find yourself overly distracted?
Congratulate yourself on what you did achieve, and if you encountered obstacles, consider how you can overcome these in the future.
What are you grateful for today?
The evening is a great time to develop your gratitude practice.
Look back over your day and think about the things you are grateful for.
Sure, some days it will be easier to express gratitude than others, but there will always be one thing you can find.
4. Do a brain dump
Is there something nagging at you from the back of your mind? Something that’s bothering you? Do you have questions do you need answers to?
Write them all down.
A brain dump is a process where you take all the thoughts racing around in your mind and transfer them to another place – usually a blank piece of paper or in your journal (though you can use an online format if you prefer).
The purpose of this evening brain dump isn’t to find the answers, but to get your thoughts out of your head so you can detach yourself from them.
Seeing on paper what was previously in your head can give you a sense of control, and make it easier to process your thoughts. Review what you have written the next day when you’ll be able to look at them from a different perspective.
5. Enjoy a warm (caffeine-free) beverage
The ritual of a comforting warm beverage in the evening will help prepare your mind and body for a restful night.
You might like to combine enjoying your warm drink with your gratitude practice or reading a book.
6. Do some light stretching or yoga
Vigorous exercise in the late evening isn’t usually recommended as it can prevent you from falling asleep easily.
However, some light stretching or yoga promotes mindfulness and relaxation – perfect for preparing both your body and mind for restful sleep.
7. Dim the lights
Turn off the bright overhead lights and use lamps and mood lighting to create a peaceful and restful environment to help you to wind down in the evenings.
The dim light helps your body to release melatonin (a natural hormone that helps to regulate the timing of sleep) and the calming atmosphere puts you in the mood for relaxation and sleep.
8. Turn off electronic devices
This one’s not easy, I know. It can be so tempting to check the news, or scroll through social media, or check to see if you have any new emails.
Doing these activities right before bed however doesn’t help your brain wind down.
Firstly, it’s more difficult to relax and switch off when you are seeking something new by perpetually scrolling, checking, refreshing, and scrolling again.
Then there’s the blue light that these devices emit. The blue light tricks your brain into thinking that it’s daytime by suppressing melatonin release making it more difficult to have good quality, restful sleep.
Using LED devices at night impacts our natural sleep rhythms, the quality of our sleep, and how alert we feel during the day.Mathew Walker, Why we Sleep: the New Science of Sleep and Dreams
Give yourself a “device switch-off time” to break the habit. Then try to resist looking at your electronic devices until the next day.
9. Calm your mind
I love to switch off my mind by reading a chapter of a novel before I go to sleep, but any relaxing activity that helps you switch off and wind down, such as listening to an audiobook, podcast, or calming music is a great addition to your evening routine.
You could also try listening to a mindfulness or meditation app. The InsightTimer meditation app has a whole section dedicated to getting better sleep.
Other relaxing activities you could try to wind down include jigsaw puzzles, drawing, or sketching. Adult coloring books are great mindfulness activity to calm a racing mind.
10. Have a warm bath or shower
A warm shower or bath will help you wind down and feel relaxed by washing the day off both physically and metaphorically.
Then, after you get out your body temperature drops, helping you to feel sleepy and ready for a restful night.
Tips for sticking to your evening routine
As with starting anything new, you are more likely to succeed if you take it slowly, rather than try to change too many things at once.
Try introducing one or two new ideas and see how these work for you before introducing more.
Create reminder alarms on your phone for various activities, or use a checklist to prompt you.
Once you’ve created an evening routine that works for you you’ll enjoy relaxed evenings, a restful night’s sleep, and a calm positive start to the next day.