I used to be a night owl. I was hit by a rush of creative energy in the wee hours of the morning, writing, building, unloading my inbox. It was my evening ritual, and it wasn’t a good one.
When I moved in with my husband, I became a morning person. It definitely took some adjusting–maybe a lot of adjusting–but these days, by 8 a.m., I’ve written, worked out, eaten, and played with my daughter.
My husband deserves a lot of credit for my routine. He is a creature of habit who holds me accountable to my rituals. If I haven’t done my Artist Way Morning pages a few days in a row, he points that out to me and encourages me to get back at it.
I think a lot about morning rituals since mornings set the tone for our days. But evenings also set the tone for our relaxation and sleep, one of the most important predictors of our health, energy level and focus for the day ahead. My morning rituals get me in the right headspace to be the best version of myself that day, but evening rituals allow us to close the day and ground ourselves so that we’re in a position to rest and rejuvenate for the new day before us.
This week my husband is on business travel, and I often find it easy to slip into my old, self-destructive habits when he’s not around to help hold me accountable. This week serves as a challenge to myself to see how I can keep up with the nighttime routines I’m working to uphold, but tend to fall away from when I’m on the road or holding down the fort alone.
As a converted night owl to early morning riser, these are my Five Favorite Evening Rituals to help me wind down in order to gear back up:
After a long day at work, it’s easy to just collapse onto the couch and veg out. We’ve been wired all day, expending energy for our work and for others. Now it’s time to do something for yourself. By finding 15 minutes for a walk, stretch, or restorative yoga, we can find and cultivate more energy than we would by watching TV.
2) Alone Time
The evening can be a rejuvenating opportunity to fill up our creative vessel through reading, or drawing, or journaling. Having some quiet alone time after a busy workday engaging with others helps me fill myself back up.
Do you and your partner or roommate share a meal together? Do you have a relative or friend you talk to almost every day? Try sharing three highlights of your day and something that you’re grateful for. This forces us to get out of describing every meeting or personnel challenge and instead focus on a source of gratitude–even if it’s as small as the train running on time or the sun shining on our morning run.
4) No Screens
My husband and I used to put away our screens at night, but the birth of our daughter changed up our routine. Now we allow ourselves to use our phones in the evening if necessary, in exchange for more time with her. Instead, we try to put our phones away before we share dinner together so that we can focus on ourselves and each other as we wind down, and we still maintain those phones out of the bedroom. The work will be there at 5 a.m. the next day, and we’ll be more fresh to tackle it.
I was always the lone meditator in our house until my husband’s work stress reached a tipping point and he needed some tools to leave the stress at work. Now we try to take 10 minutes and meditate together before sleep. Though I prefer meditating by myself, it’s nice to have an accountability partner. When you’re alone, apps like 1 Giant Mind and Headspace can help you stay your course.
Our evening rituals set us up for success the next morning. With clear minds, positive energy, and minimal distractions, we can properly rest at night and wake up full of energy. Then it’s up to our morning rituals to make sure we’re intentional and focused the following day. It’s a beautiful cycle that goes hand in hand.
This article was originally published by EdWeek Market Brief on March 4th, 2019.