Note: This is a guest post by Michelle Summerfield.
I’m no stranger to rushing around, operating on overload, and essentially being a chicken with no head.
In my previous corporate life, I lived life at light speed and in complete chaos for sixteen years. I felt I never had time for the good things I knew I “should” be doing. But running at light speed and neglecting self-care eventually catches up with you.
You burn out.
That’s when your mind and body scream, “Hey, human, please get me off this darn merry-go-round. Now!”
One of the most important things I ever did was to listen to my body and create a calming evening routine. It has made such a difference.
Now, I turn my phone off at least an hour before bed to let my mind unwind. I do a peaceful P.M. yoga routine followed by a 5 or 10 minute meditation session which relaxes my body, relieves the stress of the day, and puts my mind into a peaceful place.
I use the quiet time right after to wash my face and practice gratitude before going to bed.
If my mind is still a bit over-stimulated, I’ll read a chapter of a book, which usually has me nodding off.
Now, I get it, not everyone has a lot of time in the evenings, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own simple routine by starting small. By making just one change to your evening routine, you’ll be on your way to bringing calm, peace and stress relief into your life.
My routine starts an hour before bed, but only takes 20-30 minutes total. Finding just 5-10 minutes to do one calming activity will get you started.
If you’re looking for stress relief from your busy day, I highly recommend creating a calming evening routine that works for you.
Here are 7 ideas to try out:
1. Turn off your phone and be still for 5 minutes. During that quiet time, tell yourself you deserve peace and calm. You deserve to take care of yourself. Always putting everyone else first isn’t fair to you or to them. I turn my phone off at least an hour before bed to calm my mind (and eyes) from all the technology I’ve been using throughout the day.
2. No TV or news before bed. I don’t watch the news at all anymore. As a sensitive person, I know how negatively it can affect me, so I keep it out of my life. Think of it — that time sitting in front of the TV could be used doing something to better your mind, body, and well-being instead. I know, we all love Netflix. The key is to be mindful of your TV use and know when it’s not giving you the peace and calm you need.
3. Read a chapter of a book. This is one of my favourites! I recently got rid of my TV so I could have a reading nook in my room instead. No matter what book I’ve read, it’s never been a waste of time. In fact, most have changed my life for the better. It doesn’t matter what type of book, although I do recommend something that won’t get you thinking too much. The idea is to calm down. I’ve got two types of books I read in the evenings: spiritual self-help or a trashy romance novel.
4. Yoga. I added yoga to my evening routine about six months ago and it is so relaxing! It focuses my mind and my awareness on my body. If you’re new to yoga, it’s not super difficult. If you’re worried about flexibility, start off with a beginner practice. I use the free Yoga Studio app on my Apple TV. I started with the beginner practice until I felt comfortable to move to intermediate.
Yoga is a great way to not only add some relaxation to your day, but also exercise! And if you’ve been sitting at a desk job all day, the flexibility practices work wonders.
5. Meditate. I don’t meditate regularly. In fact, I find it extremely hard to sit still for more than 5 minutes. My cat distracts me by sniffing my hand or the movement of family around the house keeps me aware of every noise. When I do manage it, it’s calming and grounding. The constant stream of thoughts in my head slows down and I feel peaceful after.
You don’t have to do anything special or buy an app — simply focusing on your breathing and saying “breathe in” “breathe out” as you breathe is good enough. When I do my P.M. yoga, I’ll follow it up with a 5 minute relaxing meditation.
6. Practice gratitude. This is one of my favourite parts of my evening routine. Every evening, I take a few moments to think about what I’m grateful for and who I’m grateful for in my life.
This practice has the power to change your mindset and your life! It calms me and helps me appreciate everything I have. It works so well that I use it to combat my desire to buy new things. Whenever I have the urge to go back to old habits and buy something, I practice gratitude. It reminds me of all I have — the people, the roof over my head, the healthy food — everything. And the urge to shop falls away.
7. Journal. Did you do a Dear Diary when you were a kid? Well, there’s no reason not to try the adult version. Simply getting your thoughts on paper or reflecting on your day has amazing calming and healing powers. I reflect on my day by asking three questions: What went well? What can I improve? What was I grateful for?
Creating a calming evening routine was the best thing I’ve done. Now I wake up feeling refreshed, and fall asleep faster without a million thoughts rushing through my head.