7 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Evening Routine

Coming home from work shouldn't just mean removing your pants, plopping on the couch, and staying there 'til morning. While those things are obviously wonderful, there are more ways to make the most of your evening routine than simply being comfy and catching up on Netflix. If you do it right you can have less stress, better sleep, and a more productive morning.

I know, it sounds too good to be true. But seriously, take a second and think about your current evening habits. If you're like me, you probably don't have much of one. Mine consists of the aforementioned pants removal, plus lots of snacks, some wine, and then hours of whatever TV show I'm watching. I end the night ready for bed, but I don't necessarily sleep very well. And I wake up in the morning feeling totally unprepared for the day.

Cleary my routine is not so great. And if any of that sounds familiar, then your routine ain't so hot either. So let's fix our lives, and make the most of the evening hours. Because I don't know about you, but I want to do a little less stressing and a lot more sleeping. Here are some ways to do just that.

1. Stop Working After A Certain Hour

Many of us don't know when to call it quits, and therefore end up bringing tons of work home with us. Of course this is often a necessary evil, but try not to turn it into a habit. Working late and stressing out over projects cuts into that precious time when you could be soaking in a bubble bath, reading a good book, or partaking in your favorite hobby. It also makes it more difficult to fall asleep.

As Carolyn Henegan noted on TheRichest.com, "If you work too late into the night, you are preventing yourself from falling asleep fast and from getting thoroughly restful sleep. That means checking emails, writing messages, working on presentations — anything work-related — should be stopped at least two hours before going to bed ... Give yourself a break from it all, and let yourself unwind properly at the end of the night to avoid burning out, get a better night’s sleep, and start your morning off right."

2. Do Some Relaxing "No Screen" Activities

It's totally fine to spend a while perusing Facebook and Instagram for new updates. But keep in mind that staring at screens, and doing things that keep you hyper-focused (and kinda stressed) like checking emails, is no way to wind down at the end of the day.

So start replacing your laptop habit with something that doesn't involve a screen. According to Dr. Paula Watkins on MindBodyGreen.com, "The general guideline is to try to avoid backlit devices at night (such as screens) because these are stimulating to the eyes and brain, sending the message that it's daytime and therefore awake time. Try reading a book, taking a bath, listening to music, or practicing some gentle yoga or meditation." Whatever's most relaxing to you, be sure to fit it into your evening.

3. Plan Ahead For The Morning

Yes, evenings should be relaxing. They should also be used for getting a few things done so that the morning is easier. I'm talking about things like laying out your clothes and packing a lunch for the following day.

It also might be helpful to jot down a to-do list. As Henegan said, "Writing out a to-do list the evening before means you don’t have to figure out everything you need to do at the last minute, and it means you are better prepared to start the morning off right since you know everything you need to do beforehand." To-do lists also help get stuff off your mind, and onto paper, so you can rest worry-free.

4. Do Something Nice For Yourself

You spend the whole day running around and doing things for other people, so make your evenings all about you. Remember that bubble bath I was talking about? Get really into those, figuratively and literally. Put on a face mask, or go for a run — whatever you consider relaxing and pampering. Taking this time to yourself can make a world of difference for your mental attitude come morning.

5. Skip The Coffee & Alcohol

If you're like me, then you appreciate a glass of wine before bed. Same goes for a cup of tea, caffeinated or not. It's so warm and cozy that it's difficult not to nod off after a few sips.

But sadly, however comforting these libations might feel, they aren't exactly the best things to sip before bed. As Whitson Gordon noted Lifehacker.com, "We already know what caffeine and alcohol do to your brain, and neither of them are good sleep aids. Caffeine is obvious; you want to stay away from it as much as possible in the hours before sleep — or even in the afternoon if you can help it. And, while alcohol may seem like it helps you fall asleep, it won't give you the kind of deep sleep your body needs. If you drink, do it a few hours before you go to bed for a better night's rest." It's best to stick with chamomile tea, milk with honey, or coconut water for a better night's sleep.

6. Charge All Your Stuff

Nothing's worse than waking up to a nearly-dead phone. Or worse, not waking up at all because your phone is dead and the alarm didn't go off. Prevent such catastrophes by getting in the habit of charging all of your electronic possessions. As Henegan noted, "As a general rule, make it part of your routine to remember to plug in all of your electronics that you need the next day. You don’t want any of your gadgets running out of juice when you need them the most, so don’t let something as simple as plugging something into a wall keep you from an optimum morning."

7. Find The Best Bedtime

One of the best ways to ensure a good morning is to sleep better the night before. It's not rocket science, and yet this is usually way easier said than done. All it takes, however, is figuring out your perfect bedtime. According to Gordon, "To find the perfect time to go to sleep, count back seven and a half hours from the time you usually wake up. This ensures you wake up at the optimal moment during your sleep cycle. You generally want to wake up 10 minutes before your alarm goes off."

These are simple, yet really helpful, ways to make the most of your evening routine. Not so hard, right? Now you and I can be the well-rested, productive ladies we were always mean to be.

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