Remains of the day

Evenings have a distinctive mood. Whether it’s the fading light at sunset or that satisfying sensation knowing you have a few quality hours to do whatever brings you joy, there’s a gentle energy that speaks to the soul and welcomes comforting practices.

Unwinding after a busy day is essential for your wellbeing and contributes to a restful night’s sleep. But the evening is also a magical time to be inspired and appreciative of life.

Do whatever lights you up. Establish what you need. If your days are hectic and full of chatter, you might relish tranquil, quiet evenings. If you work alone, then you may prefer your evenings to be sociable and fun. Remember, though, there is no ‘one evening fits all’. What you do towards day’s end is a personal choice and depends upon your circumstances. What’s important is choosing to spend your evenings in a way that nurtures and enriches you. Those precious hours before sleep are an opportunity to appreciate life, to plan and create or simply to relax, and you’ll wake the next morning feeling happier, revitalised and primed for your day.

How to make the most of your evenings

PLAN
Decide how you want to spend your evening and then make space for that to happen. This might mean making minor changes to existing commitments with your partner, family or friends. Establish what time you have available and what you need to put in place to enjoy these few hours.

UNPLUG
Technology is a wonderful thing, but a constant preoccupation with the internet, social media, screen-scrolling, television channel hopping and gaming consumes time and disconnects you from yourself and your loved ones. During the evening, unplug or limit your use of your computer, phone and other electronics. It’s better for wellbeing and evidence suggests it can lead to a more restful night’s sleep.

EXERCISE
Ease the day out of your mind and muscles with gentle exercise. Try yoga, tai chi, a short bike ride or a stroll in the park.

MEDITATE
A brief early-evening meditation can clear the day’s noise and lets you step into the later hours feeling calm and refreshed.

EMBELLISH
It’s the little things that often make the difference. Embellish your cosy evening space by lighting scented candles or playing soothing music or snuggling up in your favourite blanket.

CREATE
Evenings offer a wonderful time to get creative. Start that writing or art project you’ve always wanted to do. Learn to sew or knit. Take up pottery. Experiment!

READ
There is nothing quite like spending an evening engrossed in a good story. Reading will help you detach from the day and is one of the most popular pre-sleep rituals.

WRITE
Put pen to paper and write down your thoughts, feelings and ideas in a journal. This evening ritual lets you release the mind’s chatter so you can look forward to a restful sleep.

ORGANISE
Write your to-do list. Do all the small chores that will bring you peace of mind and prepare you for the next day. This is exactly what author Leo Babauta of the Zen Habits series does. He will spend part of his evening tidying up, preparing food and generally getting ready to start a new day with freshness and purpose.

REFLECT
How has your day been? How do you feel? Celebrate your joy and achievements. Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the US, had a dedicated daily schedule and a specific evening review. Every night he asked himself: ‘What good have I done today?’. This evening ritual only took a few minutes, but provided honest reflection and encouraged him to achieve more the following day.

APPRECIATE
Take a few moments to appreciate what’s in your life. Write about it in your journal or add a note to your gratitude jar. Appreciating and expressing gratitude for all that is positive and loving in your life is a good way to close the evening.

STARGAZE
On a clear night, find a few moments to look at the stars before you go to bed. It’s deeply calming and will put your day and any troubles into perspective.

SLEEP
A refreshing night’s sleep is the goal at the end of a well-spent evening. Establish a good routine. Know roughly how many hours you need to be at your best and what you have to do to ensure you’ll be well rested and revitalised when you wake.

This article was originally published in Issue 10 – Nurture New Growth