We can make focused intentions and start our day with powerful routines to be productive throughout the day. But enduring and high level productivity, that is — hitting amazing goals with impact daily, is only sustainable when you end your day right, too. When you go to bed feeling good after your evening routine, you are in the right frame of mind to be consistent with your morning routine and on track with your goals throughout the day.
Here are 10 evening routines that will help you wind down and find presence before sleep which sets you up for the right physical, emotional, mental and spiritual state of being for productivity when you wake up.
Your goal is to be rested and grounded to start the next day rejuvenated and focused. Visual images of pain and suffering tend to linger. Replace what you watch and, therefore, take in before you sleep with messages and images of empathy, caring, giving, helping and finding solutions to problems. Getting off screens and replacing with an uplifting, purposeful book is even better.
Your day is spent smashing your goals — right? It is impossible to keep smashing them into the evening without something eventually going sideways, whether your health, sanity, innovative edge, emotional ability to hold it together or your loved ones feeling alienated. Your body and brain needs to rest. Use part of your evening to connect with your loved ones, your children, your family, your pets. You work hard; you deserve to nurture connection.
If someone has said or done something that’s bothering you, don’t go starting a fight. Ask yourself first if the action is something you can just let go of this time. If not, think about ways to express your feelings around the issue without judgment. Not yet? Or the person doesn’t live with you? Among the key strategies, put time aside to express what you appreciate in visualization.
Several scientific studies show that hugs reduce stress. Researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that a mere 20-second hug and 10 minutes of handholding back-to-back can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Hugging releases hormones that have tremendous health benefits, including dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.
Especially if you have kids, this can be a challenge. If you’re a single parent, this can be an extra challenge. But absolutely do take time out, even if for just five minutes to literally smell some roses, or walk in the garden outside, meditate on a candle light, soak your hands in warm water, read an inspiring poem, get a foot rub — anything to give just to yourself. This bit of time you dedicate to you will go a long way to grounding.
The most productive people write down their thoughts in the evening around the next day. My notebooks are everywhere — in my purse, beside my bed, on my desk — because scribbling my thoughts is so precious to productivity and creativity. You’ll give yourself the opportunity to reflect, feel prepared, organized and know that you don’t have to keep replying stuff in your head.
Find evidences for your success and what brings fulfillment and joy and record them in a notebook. Or repeat ‘thank you’ for things, no matter how small or big, that happened in your day. Gratitude is a powerful mindset hack to sleep on that continues to work on the subconscious as you sleep.
What’s your favorite evening drink? Whatever it is, make sure it won’t be stimulating and overall you hydrate yourself before you sleep. If it’s summer, it usually feels good to drink something coolish; winter, something that warms the belly. When it has that physiological effect, it goes to the emotional too. And when you hydrate, your cells get what they need to keep working for you.
Consider what calms and grounds you and prepares you for sleep, and even if for just a few minutes allow yourself to do it. Arianna Huffington talks about a wonderful soak in with epsom salts, lavender oil and a candle, and adds, “there’s something incredible about the water, it’s almost like washing away the day.” She talks about wearing “clothes that are just for bed.” Old ratty gym clothes, she explains sends the brain conflicting messages: “Are we going to the gym? Or are we powering down?” You don’t have to do exactly that, but find something that becomes ritual in honoring the gift of sleep.
Numerous studies show the relationship between decreased mental alertness and reaction time and lack of sleep. Get in the recommended amount of time you need for sleep. I want to be super productive in the things that matter to me, so seven to eight hours of shut-eye sleep does the trick. I’m here to be my greatest version and have impact, not just get by. Sleep is essential to that.
Arianna Huffington. 2016. The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time. New York: Penguin Random House.
Health and Behavior, 2003, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2003-03-09-hug-usat_x.htm
Originally published at medium.com