How to Create a Balancing Evening Routine at Home
Working from home has a lot of advantages, especially at the end of the day. There’s no long, dreaded commute to contend with, for one. Yet, that commute serves a valuable purpose: It’s a clear demarcation between the workplace and home life. Without it, those of us who work from home can lapse into some bad habits.
We might have a hard time stopping work at the end of the day, for example, and wind up toiling longer than we should. That can lead to burnout or even resentment toward our jobs. Or, we might feel uninspired to switch gears and not make the best use of our evenings. Hello, giant glass of merlot and our buddy Netflix every night. C’mon, there’s more to life than that.
Need some healthier nighttime routine inspiration? Here are a few ways you can create an evening routine that hits all the right notes: relaxing, refreshing and rejuvenating.
It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere
Set a daily alarm for 15 minutes before this work cut-off point, and when it dings, start wrapping things up. If the end of the work day isn’t determined by company hours, decide what time your labors will end. Finish that email, close the tabs on your browser, make your to-do list for tomorrow. Put away any paperwork or clutter that you can. Now, like Kenny Rogers used to sing, “Know when to walk away.” It’s time to get your evening mindfully started.
Engage in Gentle Exercise
If you prefer to exercise in the late afternoon or evening instead of the morning—or even if you’re just squeezing in a second session of a different type of movement—go with a low-intensity form. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the best forms of exercise for later in the day are Pilates and yoga. Both help the body activate, then release, to let go of the mental and physical stress that builds up during the day.
Feeling cooped up? Head outside for a short walk or bike ride. Research has shown that spending 20-30 minutes outside significantly reduces levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress.
Refuel with Dinner
Instead of viewing dinner as a chore, see it as an opportunity to exercise culinary creativity. If you live alone, it may be a meditative solo activity. If you have a family, consider it a bonding opportunity. (Many families with kids use cooking as a sneaky way to get in some math practice, too.)
You could do take-out, sure, but why not elevate dinner and prep updated takes on favorites like tacos or sushi with a gourmet food kit? They come with instructions and materials such as specialty spices, a bamboo rolling mat or a tortilla press.
If you enjoy learning new techniques but are short on time to plan and prep meals, a subscription meal kit might be a good option. Meal kits (like Home Chef, Sun Basket, Purple Carrot, Blue Apron and many others; there’s a handy comparison here) deliver ingredients, step-by-step instructions, and offer an ever-changing list of menu options.
There’s also endless recipe inspiration from podcasts (“The Splendid Table” is a classic) or the rabbit hole of foodie websites. Whether you are into minimalist baking or want to master a duck confit, there’s a site for that, and once you start to see cooking dinner as a way creativity and nutrition meet, dinner prep becomes a highlight of the day.
Reconnect with Hobbies
After dinner, enjoy an activity that will reset your brain and make you feel truly refreshed via a new perspective. For some people this will be setting aside time for a hobby, such as learning an instrument, writing in a journal or working on creative writing, painting, puttering around in a garden, or crafting. Others enjoy connecting with family over a game, whether in person or by playing games remotely.
Take a Steam Shower
There are so many reasons to integrate a steam shower into your nightly routine. For one, it’s a controlled, soothing environment with no digital temptation to check email or peek at Facebook. According to the Cleveland Clinic, exposure to the blue light from electronics can throw off your circadian rhythm—even during one check of the phone—and phones also trigger a psychologically alert stage. Cocooning in a soothing space like a steam room lets the brain unwind and prepare for rest.
Next, enter an even more relaxed state using chromatherapy. Chromatherapy is the art and science of applying different hues of light to gently shift human mood. Use the ChromaSteam3 system to bathe the body in light while you’re enjoying a steam bath. For evening, the ideal colors are blue or green. Blue is scientifically proven to accelerate the body’s relaxation process after stressful events. Green promotes harmony and balance.
Aromatherapy uses another of our five senses—smell—to treat body, mind and spirit, via essential oils. If you have the AromaSteam system in your at-home steam shower, use lavender or eucalyptus for your nightly steam bath session. Lavender may promote sleep, while eucalyptus has been used for millennia to aid deep breathing. As you inhale the pleasant steam, gently infused with botanical oils, concentrate on the breath. This simple mindfulness meditation allows you to let go of thoughts, allowing worries to drift off with the steam and clear the mind.
Adding sound therapy to your steam session can also foster wellness. Relaxing “music may help the heart and circulation as well as the brain and mind,” reports Harvard Health. “Slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and reducing levels of stress hormones are likely explanations.” Use your steam shower’s sound system to play classical music, nature sounds or guided meditations.
Or try listening to music designed as vibrational medicine, which utilizes specific sound-wave frequencies to calm activity in the brain. For example, this study found 528 Hz reduced anxiety in as little as five minutes of listening (Want to know what music sounds like with 528 Hz frequencies? Listen here while you finish reading this article.)
Read more about how to steam your way to the sleep of your dreams.
Establish a Quiet Bedtime Routine
Once you have finished your steam bath and are dressed in cozy PJs, write a line or two in your journal, just capturing any highlights of the day.
Then tuck in with a chapter of a good book. Go with something calming and comforting—a classic, perhaps, or a bestselling nonfiction title you’ve been meaning to read—as opposed to thrillers or horror-genre titles.
Then it’s lights out, and you are ready to enhance your wellness lifestyle an excellent night’s sleep.
Looking for ways to create a better morning routine, too? Discover seven tips for a more productive morning.