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My Evening Routine: Habits for Finishing Work and Winding Down

My Evening Routine: Habits for Finishing Work and Winding Down - girl's silhouette in the evening light holding a camera and being happy, content and relaxed in her evening routine
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It’s finally autumn (yes, I do keep talking about it – sorry not sorry) which means the social bombard of summer has left us, and we’ll all be spending more cosy evenings in. Honestly, it’s my favourite time of year for that reason. Of course, I love the summer and the social festivities that come with it, but autumn just gives me such a big boost of motivation to really get into things and start investing in work, routines, habits, hobbies, and my passions. Maybe it’s symbolic of the changing leaves, maybe I’m just still programmed from my school days. Either way, with getting back into work, I also wanted to create a new evening routine to help keep me balanced. So that’s what today’s post is, the written up record of my evening routine that will hopefully inspire some helpful habits for your guys to add to yours. Let’s get into it, shall we?

“I love to watch the fine mist of the night come on,
The windows and the stars illumined, one by one,
The rivers of dark smoke pour upward lazily,
And the moon rise and turn them silver. I shall see
The springs, the summers, and the autumns slowly pass;
And when old Winter puts his blank face to the glass,
I shall close all my shutters, pull the curtains tight,
And build me stately palaces by candlelight.” – Charles Baudelaire

Sign off your to-do list

When you finish up with work, make a to-do list for tomorrow. That trusty list will help you clear your head of any junk that’s accumulated during the day, letting you set down the weight whilst you go and relax for the night. The number of times I’ve jumped up halfway through a film or woken up in the middle of the night plagued by a random panicked thought my brain doesn’t trust itself to remember is far too many and this habit heals that.

Tidy up

Just like signing off your to-do list, tidying will help you clear and finalise everything physically and mentally. Put everything back in its place, wash up the day’s record of coffee mugs, set everything back to a clean slate for the morning. Not only will this give you a fresh start tomorrow (I can’t be doing with an untidy desk), but it’ll give you closure for today and a chance for your brain to let go of the day’s woes. Long term it’ll also keep you more organised.

Prepare for tomorrow

Preparing for the following day is going to allow you to relax so much better tonight. When we have those worried thoughts nipping at our heels, it can be difficult to slow down and really relax, even if we think we are. This’ll also save you a lot of time in your morning routine so you can spend your time somewhere else or have a lay-in, the choice is yours.

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Do something you love

Recently I’ve been reaching this part of my evening and just kind of flopping. I kept feeling kind of ‘meh’ and not really knowing what I was up for. I kept waiting for inspiration to strike, which completely contradicts my golden rule: action=motivation, not the other way round. So I decided to make a big list of all the things I’d love, at least theoretically, to do at this point in my evening routine and I’ve just started doing them. Even if I don’t really fancy it, I do something from that list. If I really don’t like that, I change to something else, but 9 out of 10 times, I end up enjoying what I get into.

I think it’s easy to watch the days go past putting all your energy into work and the basic things we have to do to survive in society, eg. washing, eating, cleaning – you get the gist, but it’s really important to do things that invest in your interests too.

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Arguably the most important part of your evening: relax. Chill out in front of the telly, play a video game, read, play your favourite sport, meet up with some friends. Whatever you enjoy doing, spend your evenings doing that. This is your time to just enjoy yourself. It’ll boost your happiness, your motivation and I can guarantee you’ll wake up tomorrow feeling better for it.

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Reflect on the day

Take some time to reflect back on your day. Sometimes life whizzes by so fast that we forget to really think about how we’re living, what we’d like to change, what we’re grateful for and appreciate. Giving your thoughts some space to come through is a great way to train your mind to express its feelings and make you aware of them. The next bit of course, is actioning them, but that’s a discussion for another time.

You might be content to chat this through with your partner or roomie, or it might suit your better to journal it onto paper. Alternatively, you can just sit with your thoughts, although I often find, for me personally, that I’m too prone to wandering with my thoughts without someone or some paper to ground me.

Set an intention

This is one of my favourite parts of my evening routine. As a kid, I learnt that the best way to get myself to fall asleep was to imagine running through tomorrow in as much detail as I can. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever made it to the end of a day – I always conk out long before that. I still use the same trick, but I’ve also learnt to also lace an intention through it.

I’ll ask myself what I think I need – it sounds a little strange to say I ask myself, but I do truly mean that I let the question sit in my mind until some thought comes up ~ one almost always does. It might be to make some healthier choices if my body’s feeling a little rough, to be more present if I feel scattered, to be more compassionate or kind to people. It can be anything. Then, as I drift off with my imaginings of tomorrow, I include my intention in every action I picture. It makes me motivated and excited about the day to come and really does remind me to keep that intention in mind throughout my day.

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Do something screen-free

Screens have an adverse effect on our ability to get to sleep, so switching off your screens a while before bed can help to improve your sleep quality. Even without the problems that blue light poses, doing something screen-less can be a good way to wind down anyway. Our devices provide us with a crazy amount of information in a short space of time, so it’s no wonder we go to bed with our heads buzzing, unable to sleep.

Sit and chat with the people you live with. Read. Listen to music/a podcast/audiobook, over voice controls. Write, draw, or do something with your hands. Tidy. Make a tea and just be while you drink it.

Head to bed at a good time

Finish off your evening routine and give yourself the best shot at tomorrow by getting a decent amount of sleep. You’ll likely know what amount is good for you, personally. I try to go to bed as soon as I start feeling tired, I like to try and be as intuitive with the process as I can to make sure my body’s getting the amount it wants and that I’m improving my communication with my body.

If you want a more precise idea of what my evening looks like, this is a vague schedule:

6:00pm: Finish up final work tasks
6:15pm: Finish writing tomorrow’s to-dos, checking off today’s tasks, tidy up and prepare anything needed for tomorrow
7:00pm: Wind down activity, catch up with the boyf, go for a walk, read, journal, etc.
7:30pm: Dinner
8:15pm: Chill activity: reading, watching telly/film, playing videogames
10:00pm: Start getting ready for bed, stretch (if I haven’t already exercised today) or read ~also screen off time~
10:30pm: Head to bed & reflect on day, set intention for tomorrow

Obviously, my evening routine differs every night. Some nights I work a lot later, sometimes I’ll go out for dinner or to see friends/family. I try to stick to these habits where possible, because for me, they make a well-rounded night I really enjoy and allow me to be at my best tomorrow, but if bed’s a little late or I’m too tired to stretch and read and tidy, I’ll happily skip it. I think the main thing is just doing them most of the time, that way they still have a big effect and missing a couple here and there isn’t really a problem.

What does your ideal night look like? What’s your favourite part of your evening routine? Let me know in the comments!

Wishing you a relaxing and refreshing evening. Love, Ella-Rose xx

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  • Emily Burkhead

    I love the intention setting! You always hear about people saying to set one in the mornings but I’ve never thought to do it as part of a night time routine! That’s interesting, I’ll have to give it a try sometime!

    • Ella-Rose

      I find it just gives me such a boost before I head to sleep and I somehow find it sticks in my mind a lot better, maybe it sinks in overnight, haha? I hope it goes well!

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