1. Read to learn.
Growth requires learning, and the more topics you’re engaged and interested in, the more effective you can be. But there’s rarely time during the workday to feed your mind or learn something new. If you set aside some time to read in the evening, you’ll find it’s a relaxing way to expand your horizons. As a bonus, it can help you make the transition to a great night’s sleep, as long as you read from a book or an e-book with digital ink rather than the screen of a computer or smart device.
2. Spend time with people you care about.
One of the very best ways to nurture yourself is to spend time in the company of people you deeply connect with and care about. These are the people who bring out the best in you, the ones whose support and caring can fuel you through hard times. It doesn’t matter if it’s friends or family, and it doesn’t matter what you do–watching a movie together, taking a walk, or sharing a meal. The point is spending time together.
3. Make time to do nothing.
We spend so much of our time in busy-ness. The best antidote is to spend some time not doing anything. Turn off the screens and the sounds, find a quiet corner, and quiet your mind. You can choose to engage in structured meditation or prayer or just concentrate on your breath. A few moments set aside will center you and keep you focused, and it also promotes good sleep.
4. Take stock.
The end of the day is a great time to take stock of what’s been happening. Some people journal, others do a mental walk-through. Either way, ask yourself what’s working and what’s not, what needs your attention, what developments are significant. It’s a natural time to check in, and it keeps key concepts at the top of your mind as you prepare for the next morning.
5. Work out.
Especially if you’ve spent the entire day at your desk, don’t go to bed until you’ve found a way to move your body. Many people find a hard workout at the gym too stimulating for the evening hours, but a long walk, a yoga class, or even some simple stretches will help your body and leave you relaxed rather than revved up.
6. Reset to refresh.
If an active day of work and decision making leave you drained, find a ritual to help you reset your body and your thoughts so you can symbolically leave it behind instead of carrying today’s problems into tomorrow. It may be that one of the habits we’ve already discussed–especially exercise and meditation–covers this base. If not, try to create a habit that will signal your brain to reset, like taking a bath or having a cup of herbal tea.
7. Get organized.
Do as much as you can in the evening to organize and prepare for the morning. It creates a ritual you can walk through–prepare the coffee, pack anything you need to take with you, set out your clothes. You’ll sleep better knowing that the next day is likely to have a calm, effective start.
8. Express gratitude.
Making gratitude a nightly touchstone helps keep you content and happy. You may build it into another practice, like writing or meditation, or just take a moment to jot down the top five things you’re grateful for each evening. Gratitude makes you more positive and optimistic, which in turn helps more good things happen.
Good evening habits are all about unwinding and balance and letting go of the pressures of the day. It’s something that pays you back twice–giving you a relaxed, pleasant evening and a more energetic, productive following day.