Start with a Reflection
Tying up mental loose ends help you end your day strong.
The workday is over but our brains never seem to stop running even when you're out the office.
After a long day, our minds continue to race a million miles an hour on unfinished tasks, unread emails, or projects with loose ends. I sometimes catch my hand gravitating towards my phone, itching to open my email inbox to respond to just one more message.
Definitively ending your day requires a clearly defined end point so that your mind can finally focus on something other than the project that can wait until tomorrow morning.
Studies have found that when people are distracted by intrusive thoughts, their efficiency at completing a task decreases significantly. Researchers found that if the participants made detailed plans for the distracting thoughts, their efficiency at the task increased to equal levels of those without intrusive thoughts.
A reflection routine helps you tie up mental loose ends while creating a consistent end to your workday. This clearly defined end allows your mind to enter relaxation mode.
So the quickest way to making relaxation your #1 evening focus is to resolve those intrusive thoughts with clearly defined plans.
Don't worry! These plans don't have to be super detailed, after all our evenings are meant for relaxation.
My Reflection Example
Here's an example to show you how easy it is: at the end of a work day, inevitably I don't get a chance to respond to all of my emails even though most of the time I at least skim each one.
I take out one sheet of paper and write down the names of each person I haven't responded to yet. Next to their names I write one sentence summarizing my response to them:
Dr. James: return call confirming appointment next week Steven: follow-up on budgeting reports
Allen: send thoughts and critiques on videos
I try to keep the entire exercise under five minutes right before I take a shot of Dream Water actually! The five minute time limit forces me to get straight to the point while also saving me time too.
An added benefit is in the morning it's one of the first things I'll look at to start my day because usually they're the highest priority items to take care of.
Show Your Gratitude
Gratitude is directly related to Happiness
A very common pursuit for all of us is that of happiness. For some it's the latest episode of Game of Thrones, for others it's playing an intramural sport over the weekend, and for the daring few it's jumping out of airplanes.
Researchers have been on a quest to understand happiness for decades. The one definitive variable in happiness turns out to be something you wouldn't have expected... It's gratitude.
People who express gratitude have been found to be happier, healthier, and more active.
Expressing your gratitude can be as simple as writing one sentence about something that happened in your day that you enjoyed.
It could've been when you were close to slumping over in sleep deprivation and than your colleague somehow read your mind and comes over with your favorite Starbucks drink. Or it could even be that you shaved 20 minutes off your commute home because there wasn't any traffic at all.
It's purely the act of expressing your gratitude that creates the improvement in your happiness.
My Gratitudes Example
One issue I sometimes run into is that I write the same gratitude several days in a row--after all I'm always grateful for my friends and family. The downside though is I feel like it's a cop out when it comes to expressing authentic gratitude each day.
To get around this I realized I could structure my gratitudes into three questions:
1. Who am I grateful for today?
2. What moment today made you feel grateful?
3. Who or what can I express more gratitude towards?
These three questions are framed to help you express gratitude for a specific person, a specific moment, a specific deficit. They're constructive, simple, but effective for new answers each day.
I personally use The Five Minute Journal, it's a beautiful journal for people who are bad at journaling. It provides a simple prompt in the morning and in the evening, making it easier for you to express your gratitudes and reflections without the pressure of an in-depth journaling exercise.
Wind Down, Don't Pass Out
Ease into your rest, don't just knock out
The key to a truly restful sleep isn't tiring yourself out until you're barely conscious, but rather, actively winding down to help your body adjust to a relaxed state.
I know it's sometimes tempting to binge watch 7 episodes in a row because you know it'll tire your energetic mind but one of the most important aspects of winding down is turning off your screens at least an hour before bed.
It's tough to pull yourself away from Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, or email, but 10 minutes of bright screen time is the equivalent of an hour long walk in the sun!
Forcing yourself to put away your phone, your tablet, and turning off your TV gives you time for reflection, reading, and can help ease you into sleep.
Part of my personal wind-down routine includes taking Dream Water. Whether you prefer the Shot or Powder Stick, Dream Water is convenient, drug free, and fast-acting.
If you take Dream Water about 30 minutes before going to bed, it gives you plenty of time to turn to screen-free activities like reading a book, having a warm bath or shower, or listening to music.
Dream Water's SleepStat Natural Blend of GABA, melatonin, and 5 HTP helps promote relaxation and improved sleep quality.
Here are other great wind-down activities that you can incorporate:
- Taking a warm bath or shower.
- Reading a book or reading a bedtime story to your kids. - Having a light snack.
- Going for a quick walk around the neighborhood.