To help you bounce back after a tough day
It's the end of a very long day. Your internal battery is low. Your hair is dishevelled, make up smudged and muscles in pain. All you want is a warm bath and a bed. Scrap the bath, the bed is all you can think about.
Your child, however, is not only on full but also appears to have discovered an eternal energy supply: s/he is running around, jumping up and down, making lots of noises and clinging onto you like a monkey. You start breathing heavily ready to collapse onto a toy covered floor. 'Is it bedtime yet?!' - is playing on repeat in your mind.
And breath... It's bedtime! The child is sound asleep, looking cute and peaceful. But that's the thing - our little monkeys have so much energy that even after a whole day running around like crazy tornadoes they ‘d be up for another round if woken up. We, on the other hand, are lucky if we make it to the sofa…
But what if you don’t feel like going to bed or slouching on the sofa after little cherubs are out for a day? What if you have a project you need to finish? A book you’d like to read or a partner that you haven't spoken to all day? Or if you simply want to feel like there is life after a child's bedtime. Fear not, there are a few things you can do to bounce back. They are known to everyone. But sometimes we forget about them amid the chaos of everyday life.
11 super re-energising evening routines:
Watch a TV-show/cartoon
Reading a book
Eat dark chocolate
Have a cup of tea
"Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time. Inertia is the death of creativity."—Austin Kleon(Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative)
1. Cold Shower
A cold shower in the evening might be the last thing you want. But it does refresh you immensely. It also helps you to stay alert - it will wake up and re-energise you better than any energy drinks. And mind you, a cold shower is also healthier than an energy drink as it has no sugar or any other nasties and has some extra benefits, such as:
Acts as an antidepressant by triggering 'fight or flight' response and forcing your body to have an intense reaction towards it
Increased metabolism (which helps you to burn that cookie you've munched just before the shower)
2. Mindfulness meditation
As hard work as it may sound, spending a few minutes meditating might actually recharge your batteries very quickly. Some scientists believe that regular practices of meditation could actually improve your mood.
Yet another study suggests that we could ‘rewire’ our brain and create new positive connections by doing certain activities consistently. Hence if you practice quick meditation every evening you might be chirpier than a bird in the spring in a few weeks time.
You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try. Beverly Sills
3. Yoga or any other gentle exercise
I know what you might say - exercise after what I've been through? Who knows what a few stretches and downward dogs might do for you? Take a look at this group of medical students at a university in America that practice yoga every day to help them to unwind and learn anatomy. If it helps medical students, it surely should be able to help frazzled mummies after a tough day, right?
4. A walk in a fresh air
This fresh air could be your garden, balcony or patio. Just a few minutes of non-stuffy air will refresh your mind and energise you for a few more hours. Studies done about the benefits of walks in a forest showed that they lowered cortisol or stress levels.
After a day with our super active children, a short walk in the garden might feel as rejuvenating as a long hike in the forest. Another article mentioned that exercising for thirty minutes in the evening could promote good sleep! So it's a win-win!
5. Watch something fun
If there is something short, fun and/or motivational that you can watch - go ahead and indulge yourself! Set your timer for 30 - 40 minutes. After the time is up you should be energised enough to be able to do something productive for an hour or so.
It's called immediate reward.
The study conducted and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that a reward, even for a task not fully completed, helps to boost motivation. Why wait until you complete your task? Enjoy rewards before. And after.
However, if you fear that one 30 min episode might turn into an evening of binge-watching your favourite feel-good TV-show - complete an hour worth of tasks from your to-do list first. Once the hour is up - enjoy yourself with an added sense of accomplishment. You go, girl!
Journalling is a good way to offload your thoughts, emotions and feelings of the day. Think about it as your private free therapy: you share your pains, hopes and fears with the paper. Paper keeps it to itself, like the most trusted friend. You feel better afterwards and you are ready to conquer the world because your mind is free.
If writing down your thoughts is not your thing you could try doodling or sketching the troubles of the day. Give visual journaling a try, Cathy Hutchison and her blog is my recommended starting point - combine simple drawings with thoughts and ideas and add a bit of colour. This will help to boost your creativity and relieve pressure from all those thoughts swirling in your head after a long day.
You could also use a mind mapping technique - technique used for brainstorming - to unburden your psyche. Whatever you find useful and working for you. Try different techniques for a week and see which one helps you to silence the inner critic and feel calmer.
7. Read a book
Bibliotherapy is an actual thing. The School of Life offers it as a service. Reading a book, a paragraph or a line from a book, a poem or a short article can help to motivate and inspire you. It can also make you happy.
Reading transports us into a different universe, allows us to relive a life that is not our own, makes us experience things that are not part of our day-to-day routine. Go ahead and enjoy some time reading your favourite author or a short story you've been putting off for a while. It might skyrocket your energy and make your brain work a little bit faster in preparation for your to-do list.
8. Spend a few minutes doing what you love
Resurrect your hobby and spend a few minutes doing what you genuinely love. Do you love cooking? Throw something simple together and then sit down and enjoy it. Painting has been calling your name? Get those brushes out and let your creativity out for a few minutes. You don't need to produce a masterpiece. All you need is a few minutes to immerse yourself in something different to cooking and looking after a tiny demanding human being.
9. Practice gratitude
Spend a few minutes listing all the things you are grateful for at this minute in time. Think about all the good things - the sunrise, the birds singing, the sofa that is still standing, the carpet that looks ok-ish after that incident with chocolate biscuits... Anything you can think of. This simple yet powerful exercise will help you to become aware of all the good things in your life and around you. This positive experience will help you to boost your happy hormones and as a result more productive evenings and a night of healthier sleep.
10. Have a bite of that dark chocolate
Dark chocolate (the darker the better)contains energy-boosting qualities. Too much sugar will give you an energy crash, so choose anything above 70% and higher. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants helping to protector our cells from damage. Not only it will increase your energy levels but it will also satisfy your craving for something sweet and naughty. It can also help to reduce stress, according to some studies.
“Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.”―Joanne Harris,Chocolat
11. Have a cuppa
Make yourself a nice hot herbal/decaf tea. There are so many options nowadays for heart-warming teas. Give fennel, echinacea or lavender a try. The warm beverage will boost your happiness hormones and give you extra energy to complete those tasks you wanted to do.
Be mindful though of teas containing caffeine (green, black, etc.) as they might tamper with your sleep. And give peppermint a miss if you have a sensitive tummy.
An evening should not mean a total lack of energy. Bedtime for your little one should not mean bedtime for you. You could have magically productive evenings even after the whole day running after your child. But to do that you need to remember to create an evening routine for yourself.
No one is cancelling lazy Netflix evenings. But it is so much nicer to watch your favourite TV-show knowing that you managed to achieve quite a few tasks from your to-do list. And a great thing is that you don't need to do all the steps mentioned at once. Choose one or two one day, mix it up for the next day - and it won't even look like a routine - it will be more like an exciting self-care indulgence instead.