by Peter Clemens
In my article 8 Simple Ways to Enjoy Life Every Day, I suggested that rethinking your evenings is a great way to get more from life. With this in mind, the following are 10 ways you can make your evenings happier, healthier, and more productive.
1. Find Pleasure in Cooking Your Evening Meal
For many people, preparing an evening meal is just another task at the end of a long day. There are, however, many ways to make cooking more enjoyable. Some suggestions include taking an interest in local produce, increasing your skills in the kitchen by taking cooking classes, and generally just being prepared to experiment when preparing a meal.
2. Skip the Alcohol
There are many benefits to drinking less alcohol, or even none at all. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it diminishes the function of the central nervous system. Even in low doses, you will probably find that it impairs your concentration, slows your reflexes, and causes you to be drowsy. So if you have things that need doing in the evening, consider giving the alcohol a miss.
3. Switch Off the Television
After a long day, it can be tempting to “relax” in front of the television for most of the evening. Ironically, though, spending your evening in this manner will often leave you feeling even more drained. Switching off the television and engaging in more active pursuits will give you more energy and leave you in a better mood. Plus it is a great way to get things done. For more on this topic, I suggest reading The Amazing Effects of a Weekend Without Television.
Exercising in the evening is a fantastic way to release the stress that comes from a day at work, school, or home. Just be careful, though, as exercising too late in the evening may lead to sleep problems. Generally you should allow 1 to 3 hours to wind down after a work out so that you can properly fall asleep.
5. Get Out of the House
Staying at home every evening is a recipe for boredom. Some ideas to get out of the house include having a picnic, watching the sunset, going for a walk, eating out at a favorite restaurant, going to the theatre or taking an evening class.
6. Invite Company Over
If you don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your own home, why not bring your friends to you? Modern technology has done a great job in helping people stay connected, but it really can’t replace the experience of being in the presence of your friends.
7. Review Your Day
A simple, yet extremely powerful, self improvement tool is the daily review. I suggest towards the end of your evening finding 5 to 15 minutes to reflect on the day that has just been. You may choose to ask yourself some specific questions, such as “what am I grateful for?” or “what am I resisting?” Another idea is to keep a journal so that you can work through your thoughts and feelings. If time is an issue, consider keeping a one sentence journal – it will still help you reflect on your day!
If you want to sleep well, make sure you are relaxed before going to bed. Some relaxation ideas include meditation, having a bath, and swapping massages with your partner. These will help by slowing your brain waves, decreasing your respiration rate, and lessening any muscle tension in your body.
Shimon Peres, the former Israeli prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner, once said: “If you eat three times a day you’ll be fed. But if you read three times a day you will be wise.” Not only is reading a book a relaxing way to wind down before bed, but it gives you the opportunity to get inside some of the greatest minds that have walked the planet (autobiographies), encounter life changing ideas (self improvement) or simply explore different worlds (fiction).
10. Go to Sleep When You Feel Tired
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good nights sleep. Apart from leaving you yawning and feeling drowsy, inadequate sleep will impair your reaction time and mental functioning the next day. So when should you go to sleep? In my opinion, the best time is when you feel tired. Go to sleep too early and you may suffer the frustration of lying awake trying to fall asleep. Go to sleep too late and you may not get enough sleep.