Our lives are brimming with busy work days and social events, leaving minimal time for personal activities. And while the former is glorified by society, the latter is just as important. There’s no reason you should feel like your wellbeing isn’t a priority.
Creating an evening routine is a simple way to take care of yourself and improve your quality of life. Regardless of how busy you are as a professional, we strongly encourage you to shift your thinking and devote even just 30 minutes before bed to some sort of regimen.
The goal here is a better night’s rest, but the reward is more productive days and increased positivity in your life. In this article, we’ll dive into the concept of having a personalized evening routine, what it is, how it can benefit you, and most of all, how to create one and integrate it into your life.
What is an evening routine?
One way or another, you’ll have to go to bed. But don’t you want it to be enjoyable? An evening routine is a set of activities that you do before bed to help you slow your pace and prepare for sleep. It’s like taking off the day and hanging it up alongside your bags and business attire. For the most part, this routine is relaxing and should contribute to two things: helping you wind down and reducing your stress.
What are the benefits of an evening routine?
As the above may suggest, an evening routine is meant to enhance your sleep quality. But there are numerous other benefits to establishing a productive evening routine, like waking up feeling refreshed, which sets you up for a more productive tomorrow. Below, we go into more depth on the benefits of following a consistent and enjoyable evening routine.
1. Improved sleep quality
A consistent evening routine helps signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and get ready for sleep, leading to better sleep quality. It reinforces your circadian rhythm (your body’s internal clock), allowing you to drift off with ease. A regulated sleep-wake schedule is a huge purveyor to having productive and happy days.
2. Reduced stress
Your day is filled with unpredictable situations and fluctuating stress. As a busy professional, that’s just unavoidable, but by engaging in relaxing activities before bedtime, you can reduce those feelings of stress and anxiety. You’ll begin to sleep more peacefully and wake up feeling refreshed.
3. Increased energy levels
A good night’s sleep is essential for increased energy levels throughout the day, and having a consistent evening routine will promote a good night’s sleep. When you get adequate rest, your body is better equipped to handle the demands of the day, both physically and mentally. That’s because when you are rested, you’re naturally in a better mood, able to concentrate, and can be more productive. It also helps to regulate your hormones, improve your immune system, and support your cardiovascular health.
4. Improved mood
Ending your day with activities that bring you peace can slow your mind and give you the capacity to reflect on the positives in your life. This will send you to bed with a sense of satisfaction and relief. What’s more, a relaxing evening routine is the perfect setup for getting a deep sleep, and adequate sleep and reduced stress are both linked to improved mood and overall well-being. After all, a well-rested mind is better equipped to spot the positives throughout the day.
5. Increased productivity
When you’re well-rested, you’re more likely to be productive and efficient in your daily activities, and having a proper evening routine contributes to that good rest. So, if you’re looking for better focus and concentration in your life, keep on reading! Soon we’ll explain exactly how to design an efficient evening routine that works for you.
6. Better time management
Establishing an evening routine can also help you enhance your time management skills. By planning out your evening activities and allotting enough time to getting through each one, you’re learning how to incorporate relaxation and self-care into a day packed with responsibilities. That’s simply because you’re starting to view time with a more balanced perspective. There really are endless ways to squeeze self-care into your busy schedule.
7. Improved health
Sleep is a fundamental aspect of human biology. It plays a crucial role in countless physiological and cognitive functions — like immunity, hormone regulation, metabolic health, mental health, and so much more — that are essential for your well being. Because health and sleep are so closely linked, it’s important to make sure you’re consciously prioritizing your rest. A bedtime routine is one way to enhance your sleep, especially as a busy professional, as it will help you unwind and clear your mind.
How to create an evening routine
Creating an evening routine is really quite simple. It involves selecting a few suitable activities that can help you relax and unwind. It also requires a little scheduling so that you can remain consistent and create a sort of regimen. Ahead we’ve outlined step-by-step instructions on how exactly your evening routine can come to fruition. Plus, we’ve given you some ideas of how you can mold your routine into total serenity.
Step 1: Select your bedtime
Adults need bedtimes, too! A consistent bedtime is important because it helps to regulate the body’s internal clock, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is a natural 24-hour cycle that regulates many physiological processes, including sleep-wake cycles, hormone production, and metabolism, and when treated with care, helps to mitigate your risk of developing sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia. (As mentioned above, it is so closely linked to your health). Thus, when we go to bed and wake up at consistent times, our body’s internal clock gets set, and our physiology adjusts accordingly. In order to figure out the most ideal bedtime, go ahead and evaluate how many hours of sound sleep your body needs to function at its optimal level, then compare that with the time you need to wake up in the morning. For example, if you’re waking up at 6 am to get to work, and you have a sleep goal of eight hours, set your bedtime as 10 pm.
Step 2: Choose your activities
In order to create a productive evening routine, you need to choose activities that work best for you. You might not resonate with your friend’s bedtime meditation, and that’s totally fine. The whole point is to carve out time in your day and use it in a way that best serves you. So, with that in mind, do some reflecting and select actionable items that will contribute to your relaxation. Below are some popular evening routine activities to get your brainstorm started.
- Taking a warm bath or shower
- Reading a book
- Listening to calming music
- Practicing yoga or meditation
- Writing down your to-do list for the next day
- Unwinding with a glass of wine or tea
- Spending time with loved ones
- Getting ready for bed (brushing teeth, washing face, etc.)
Step 3: Set a schedule
Once you’ve chosen your activities, set a schedule for your evening routine. This step is essential as it creates structure; with structure, we are more capable of accomplishing things. Plus, a consistent schedule will help train your body to anticipate sleep, leading to a better rest — which is our ultimate goal here. Determine the amount of time you want to dedicate to your evening routine, then choose the timing for each activity, ensuring you have enough time to complete them before your desired bedtime.
If you’d like assistance with your scheduling, consider utilizing task management platforms like Notion or Sunsama. While these are great tools for your professional life, they can also be used to leverage your personal life. Create a separate page or account for your personal use. You’ll be able to customize your evening routine and check things off as you go.
Step 4: Stick to your routine
Consistency is key when it comes to establishing a productive evening routine. If you don’t do it every single evening, the hecticness of life will overshadow your attempts, and you’ll soon forget all about this journey that you once set out on. Make a commitment to follow your routine as closely as possible, even on weekends. This will help reinforce the habit and make it easier to maintain over time. If you need some enticing, offer yourself a reward for sticking with your evening routine for a week, then again for a month, and then four months.
Step 5: Adjust your routine as needed
Although we just urged you to stick to your routine, that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to tweak things. Your needs and preferences may change over time, so be prepared to adjust your routine accordingly. Keep track of what works well for you and what doesn’t, and don’t be afraid to make changes as needed to ensure your routine remains effective. You might even notice that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. It’s definitely okay to shrink your evening routine over time if that’s what serves you best. Ahead, we’ll go into more detail on the importance of creating a simple, realistic routine, as well as more pro tips for creating a productive evening routine.
Tips for creating a productive evening routine
Creating a productive evening routine that works for you can be tricky, especially if you are a first-timer. There are many moving parts and several looming distractions that can throw you off course. But worry not. We’ve put together a list of tips that you can consider once you’ve established a plan for your evening routine. Integrating the evening routine into your life with these pointers by your side will be super easy.
1. Make it relaxing
An evening routine should be rooted in relaxation. Choose activities that help you wind down and feel at ease. Perhaps that involves lighting a candle, using essential oils, playing soft music, or reading a book. Overstimulating activities — like watching an intense TV show, having a heavy conversation, or playing video games — will contribute to stress, so it’s best to stay away from those.
2. Make it easy
In order to stay consistent, your routine needs to be easy enough to do when you’re running on low energy. After all, it is the end of the day and you’ve used up all of your vigor. Make sure your evening routine is simple and doable. If you complicate your routine, you won’t feel motivated to do it every single night. The key to designing a habit is to make the task as easy as possible so you can reinforce it with little effort, maximizing its benefits.
3. Make it enjoyable
Your evening routine should be something you look forward to. If you don’t feel good or excited doing it, you’re less likely to stick with it and the routine will become a failed attempt at creating balance in your life. Choose activities that you genuinely enjoy and find calming. Don’t forget, when your brain experiences something it enjoys, it will look forward to the next time you’ll experience it again, thus creating a habit.
4. Be flexible
We get it, life is unpredictable. There will surely be times when you can’t stick to your routine — just don’t be too hard on yourself. You may be traveling, or perhaps a social event kept you out later than anticipated and there isn’t enough time to complete your full routine. As long as you get back on track as soon as possible, you’re golden. Be adaptable so as to counterbalance the moments when unexpected events or changes occur in your schedule. Remember that this is a process and it’s okay to have setbacks. Keep it light and positive!
5. Set boundaries
Boundaries are important. They let those in your life know what you need in order to feel respected, and they help protect your energy. Create some boundaries surrounding your evening routine so that you don’t get disrupted. Kindly let your family and friends know that you’re “socially” tapping out X amount of time before bed. More importantly, turn off your work emails and null those phone notifications. This time is dedicated to yourself and your well-being, and is essential to being your best self each and every day.
So, if you feel like sprinkling a little balance into your busy life, it’s time to design your own evening routine: Clock out of your day and clock into your relaxation time. If it helps, have your virtual assistant block off the evenings in your schedule so that you’re never disturbed by work events or late night emails. With a set bedtime, your favorite wind-down activities, and consistency, you’ll be well on your way to more restful nights and more productive days. Just don’t forget to set your morning alarm!