Creating an Evening Self-Care Routine
While it may be tempting to unwind after work with cocktails with your girlfriends (and a great idea every once in a while!), how you spend your time in the evening after work is crucial to recharge and reset for the following day. Taking deliberate, mindful steps in enjoy your evening will make a huge difference for how you sleep and how you’ll feel the following day.
Limiting nightly screen time
After a busy day at work, the urge to spend time mindlessly watching Netflix or scrolling through Instagram can be strong. While that is completely okay to do, you might want to consider limiting how much screen time you get at night by using a timer for yourself. Staring at lit-up screens and images can keep your brain awake and alert, making it harder to fall asleep. Consider a compromise, such as an hour of TV time and then an hour reading a book, playing a game, taking a bath, doing a puzzle, etc.
Spending time with those who matter
This suggestion may seem like an obvious one, but it can be very tempting to say “yes” to social engagements, volunteer opportunities, or other activities after work that are not truly fulfilling to you. In trying to be a good friend, coworker, or family member, we can burn ourselves out by making lots of plans after the workday or committing to obligations that you are not fully emotionally invested in. Making sure that you decide to do what YOU feel like doing is extremely important for confidence and happiness. While you may immediately want to commit to something when a person asks you, a good rule of thumb is to ask to check your calendar or to respond that you will let the person know in the next day or two. This gives you time to think about how much you really want to do the thing rather than impulsively agreeing.
Oftentimes, our days can go by in such a blur that it’s hard to remember what you ate for lunch! Being mindful about how you spent your time and energy during the day and reflecting upon that at day’s close can put things into perspective and make you feel more focused and productive. At the end of each day, try writing down something positive about the day or something that happened that you are grateful for. Even if you had a seemingly terrible day, hopefully you can think of at least one small part of the day that was happy. This type of activity is called cognitive restructuring, and can help reframe your negative thoughts and worries. If you’re new to journaling, we’ve got some great tips on how to get started.
Heather Slugaski is a clinical social worker living and working in North Carolina. You can follow Heather on Twitter @heatherlynnsw.