When was the last time you woke up feeling really refreshed? Isn’t that the dream? A lot of us are running around with frayed nerves and a to-do list as long as your height. It might not be as obvious, but our evening routine is just as important as our morning routine. After all, the quality of sleep is going to affect your performance for the morning and rest of the day. Sleeping well is one of the more important factors for your overall wellbeing and health. So it makes sense that preparing the body and mind to sleep well, would be just as important. Ritualizing moments of the day has been an important part of respecting my body, my mental health, and my emotional body.
Yogic philosophy has taught me that the evening is almost like a metaphor for death. It sounds more morbid than it actually is so bare with me. It’s actually quite poetic if you think about it. Consider the life cycle of a day: morning is like your birth, so full of potential. Daytime is like your teenage and adult life, living life. Then evening is when you are older and you’ve slowed down, having had gratitude for the life you’ve had that day and preparing for deep rest. Everyday is a new lifecycle - from birth to death.
The evening for me goes something like this:
5:30 pm: Arrive back home and start prepping and cooking for dinner. I’m usually roasting something and while I wait for it to finish up in the oven, assuming nothing else needs to be prepped, I’ll catch up with my boyfriend on our day or sort out my calendar if anything needs adjusting.
6:30 pm: Eat dinner and watch something in the background on netflix or listen to some music on youtube.
7:15 pm: I like to clean up right away after dinner. I have a weird neurosis about all dishes being clean and out of the sink before bed. As previously stated, I prefer to not leave loose ends untied so I’m not cleaning up too much mess from the day before.
7:45 pm: I shower at night to wash the day away, do my evening skincare routine, and do a practice called abhyanga, which is a self massage with warmed oil appropriate to the season. My favorite one that I’ve been using while in winter is sesame oil based due to it’s having more of a warming, heavier quality (can be found here!) Fun fact: the same word in sanskrit for “love” is sneha which is also used for oil! Therefore, oil is love! I like to equate this as spending time with myself, which is what self care is really! If I could, I would love to take an epsom salt bath! Although a foot soak has worked wonders for me even still.
So the night can go in multiple ways from here:
8:30 pm (option 1): if I have a project or work to do, this is when I’ll switch gears and work for about an hour to an hour and a half. I try to stop by 9:30 or 10 at the latest. I need buffer time in between working and going to bed. Lately, my boyfriend and I have been enjoying some arts and crafts or doing a DIY project. If I’m slated to do something that requires more brain power, I’ll do as much prep or brainstorming so that the “heavier” portion of work can be done during work hours.
(option #2): Netflix and chill! I will avoid anything that is too stimulating (on a weeknight, but weekends are up for grabs). I’ll also stretch at this time too. By this time, the overhead lights are dimmed and I’ve ditched my phone for the day. Other things I enjoy at this time is journaling or reading.
Both of these options incorporate relaxing with a pot of tea with herbs that I know to be calming or sedating such as lavender, gotu kola, passionflower, and skullcap. Some nights I share a bowl of MJ with my boyfriend.
11:00pm: Bed time! Since we’ve made the decision to keep the bedroom solely for sleeping and rest, I sleep much more soundly. I also incorporate some breathwork in bed, if I haven’t done so already during my stretch break.
I didn’t implement an official evening routine until this last year. But maybe you already have some kind of evening routine in place, the general gist of this is to prepare yourself for good sleep. Our days can be chaotic, boring, exciting, sad, etc... Lets face it, we put our bodies and nervous system through the ringer. Not to mention the mental gymnastics that we have to perform on a day to day. It can be a lot of pressure and stress and overtime, if we leave all these emotions unprocessed, undealt with, they can wear us down and cause even more mental disturbances. For example: Have you ever randomly had an outburst of anger because you’re running on empty and have a storm brewing in your mind? Have you ever made silly mistakes on something you’ve done a million times because you’re neck deep in chores and that inbox is just never ending? *Raises hand* It’s just good mental hygiene to tie up loose ends before the start of a new day. All that “your body is a temple” talk, as cheesy as it sounds, is something I live by!