healing foundations

Stress Management

Creating an Evening Routine

Danya Shu, WellTheory Health Coach

What is a Circadian Rhythm

Your hormones, which govern your sleep cycles and wakefulness, are controlled by a circadian rhythm. This rhythm is based on light and dark cycles occurring on a 24 hour cycle, regulated by your sun exposure.

Why a Consistent Routine Matters

To stay in sync with your body’s master clock inside your brain, it’s best to keep an evening routine such that you’re going to bed at approximately the same time each evening, in sync with your hormones. Once you push through and miss that sleep bus, it can be hours before the sleep bus returns, leaving you short on sleep and grumpy the next day. Get on that bus when it first arrives!

Build Your Evening Routine

Begin by determining how much time you want to devote to your wind down routine. Some devote 1 hour and some 2 hours. The amount of time you have may depend on outside factors such as caring for young children, or perhaps you or your spouse's work schedule or kids’ activities.

Commonly, much of our sleep issues are due to stressors we experience in our daily lives. It’s important to discover methods to de-stress at the end of the day and prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.

Let’s begin by determining what winding down activities you may want to include in your routine and times you’d ideally like to begin each one. We have listed some ideas below. It can be helpful to stack these new habits. For example, “I dim the lights as soon as I am finished washing dishes after dinner,” makes finishing the dishes the trigger for the new habit. Or consider setting an alarm to remind you to begin your evening routine. If you live with others, it’s also important to inform them of your routine so they can assist you in keeping to your plan. Perhaps they can develop their own evening routines as well — kids especially thrive on having a routine.

One activity we’d like to highlight is unplugging from social media. Social media helps us stay connected, but it’s also a great source of stress for many. Social media is also designed to keep us on the platforms by giving us tiny hits of dopamine with every click. It’s easy to get lost in the scroll. Be sure to have a well-defined time to turn off social media.

Here are a few common activities to consider for your evening routine.

  • Relax by taking a hot bath, meditating in a quiet place, or envisioning a soothing scene while lying in bed.
  • Turn off daytime worries by finishing any next-day preparations about an hour before bed.
  • Consider sipping on a calming tea blend 2 hours before bed, such as lavender and/or chamomile.
  • Journal the things that may be stressing or worrying you. Once these are written down you don’t have to worry about them, because they are now out of your head.
  • Learn how to set boundaries with yourself and with others in your life. “No” is a complete sentence that can save you from overdoing/burnout.
  • Download your thoughts/plan for the day, such as a to do list of top 3 things you want to get done the next day.
  • DO NOT DISTURB is your best friend on your electronic devices. You can set them to ring in an emergency from certain people in your contacts, such as kids away at college or elderly parents. Otherwise, it can wait until tomorrow. UNPLUG!
  • Which leads us to social media unplug! No doom scrolling or brain stimulating scrolling, looking for the next dopamine hit. Turn it off!

Creating Your Own Evening Routine

Designing an evening routine may seem daunting at first. Remember how we started with just ONE THING for the morning routine? Start with just ONE THING! This one is more individual than the morning routine, as most of us are sunlight deprived. For some, that ONE THING is a warm bath with scented candles. If you have young kids knocking on the bathroom door, a warm bath is out of the question. It might be a leisurely stroll around the block while your partner prepares the littles for bed. If you hold all of the day’s tension in your body, gentle stretching or yoga might be your best ONE THING.

Possible Winding Down Activities:

  • audiobooks
  • reading casual books
  • knitting
  • picking up the house with lights turned down low
  • washing your face
  • taking a bath or shower
  • stretching/gentle yoga
  • meditations
  • doing the dishes

Take Action!

Now it’s your turn. Create a list of things that you would like to include in your evening routine, and choose ONE thing to try.

Use this handout as a guide and write down your goals!

How Can We Help?

Finding the support you need can be a daunting task. If you'd like guidance on identifying the right care for you, send us a message and we’ll respond via email within 48 hours.
We care about your privacy and won’t share this information
Thanks for your email!

Our Care Team will be in touch shortly via email to answer any questions you have.

Talk soon!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Discover All the Benefits of a WellTheory Membership

Schedule a Call

Select a day to schedule a free 15-minute call with a member of our Care Team.