Might what you do before you hit the sack tonight affect how you perform tomorrow? It’s probably not too big of a leap to think so. If you agree, be intentional about how you set yourself up for the future by creating an evening routine that works.
The power of an evening routine
Just as your electronic devices need to be recharged, your brain needs to be recharged. Numerous studies show that sleep (or lack therefore) affects mental health. Both the subconscious mind and the conscious mind work during the day.
But at night, the conscious mind is resting, and the subconscious mind is very much at work. Therefore, it’s important to use an evening routine that helps your subconscious to work to your benefit.
I’d also suggest that you start thinking about your evening routine when you do your workday shutdown routine. What time do you need to start winding down for the night? What do you need to do to make that happen?
You’ve heard me say it before. A routine is about the feeling it creates, not the activity you complete. (I have an upcoming post planned about why your routines may not be working for you.)
Here are several activities that might help you to get a feeling of closure or peace. Pick just a small handful of these to help you feel like you’ve closed out the day, prepared for the next, and settled yourself for a good night’s sleep. (Stay tuned for a post on getting to bed on time!)
Your mind and body
What controls your mind controls your life. Negative thoughts can interfere with your sleep, and a poor night’s sleep will affect your daytime productivity. To counteract negative thoughts, try using one or more of these 101 positive night affirmations.
Reflect on your wins. I recommend writing those wins in a paper or an electronic journal, or even on a scrap of paper. But if you truly hate writing, talk them through with your bed partner. Your bed partner might be an adult who has been involved in or at least understands your adult-level wins, such as “I got 3 new clients today!” Or, it could be a toddler. “I had a really good time at the zoo today, how about you?”
Wins might be simple things that gave you joy; events or experiences that delighted your senses. Think back on listening to the birds chirping, smelling some flowers, or tasting a delectable piece of fruit.
Reflect on the “Big 3” goals you set for yourself in the morning. Did you accomplish those goals? If not, ask your intuition to guide you in how to accomplish what’s still undone. Your subconscious will work on the problem while you’re sleeping. The subconscious is an excellent problem-solver. Here you’ll find three ways to activate that problem-solving process.
Here’s one powerful thing you can do. Climb into bed and ask yourself, “What did it feel like to reach my goal today?”
Notice this isn’t about what happened. It’s about how it felt.
Do whatever you need to do to feel at peace. This could be praying, reading, journaling, or some other calming activity.
Famed self-help author Neville Goddard recommended an exercise in his classic book, The Power of Awareness. (The exercise is published in the Kindle version, but not all modern versions of the book.)
This exercise consists of recounting all of the activities of the day. The purpose is to help you strengthen your “attention muscle.” Here’s what he says to do.
Begin by thinking of the last activity you did today. (Hence, your first activity would be, “getting into bed.”) Then, work backwards. That might have been, for example, brushing your teeth. Then, keep going, in reverse chronological order, identifying all of the activities you’ve done since your day started.
Then, start thinking about the body’s activities for tomorrow.
You might want to review your calendar and your obligations for the next day. Here’s a quick checklist:
· Weather: What’s the weather report?
· Clothes and gear: Where’s your umbrella or warm sweater?
· Commitments: What will you be doing? Do you need to dress for a formal meeting, or pack your clothes for the gym?
· Destination(s): Where are you going? Set your GPS for your destination.
· Errands: What errands do you need to run before or after your workday starts? Where’s your grocery list, and is it up to date?
· Materials: What papers or items do you need to have available for tomorrow? That might be something for yourself (e.g., dropping off papers to the attorney’s office) or something for your child (the field trip permission slip). Where are the clothes you plan to drop off at the dry cleaners?
Determine what you can do to keep your family at peace. Part of your evening routine might be:
· Walking the dog
· Sipping a glass of wine
· Watching a TV show
· Unloading the dishwasher
· Setting up the coffee pot for morning
· Locking the doors and/or adjusting the air conditioning
Anything that alters your senses can help you to close out the day and get a good night’s sleep. Prepare your environment.
· Smell: Consider drops of lavender on the pillowcase or on a tissue under your pillow.
· Hear: There’s good evidence that sounds can help us get to sleep, stay asleep, and reprogram our subconscious minds. I regularly use several of these.
· Touch: Get the very best sheets you can afford. For eight hours, you can feel like royalty. (Yes, I sleep on the Sferra sheets, from the same company that has made the sheets for the pope for centuries! These luxurious sheets are made from cotton grown in Egypt and woven in Italy.)
· Taste: Some people like a chocolate near their bed. Personally, I don’t particularly enjoy chocolate, but others find this is a sweet way to end the day.
You’ll need to find the activities that seem helpful to you for an evening routine. But for the most part, consider your (a) mind and body, (b) your family, and your (3) environment.
Are you thinking about changing your evening routine in some way? If so, what do you think you might want to try first?
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Part of a series on routines: learn to maximize your Morning Routine, Work Startup Routine, Workday Shutdown Routine, Evening Routine, Getting to Bed on Time, and When Your Routines Aren’t Working (coming soon)
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