Nights and mornings are times for me to both reset from long work days and prepare for long work days to come. As I grow further into my work, my evening recharge times have become precious.
If you’re going for it during the work day, you’re going to feel that, too. If you’re reading this post, you might be wondering how you can build regular(ish) practices into your evenings to ensure that recharging happens.
You get bonus points if you mix things up and take a late-night walk or make another micro-adventure for your workweek. But if you’re just having a night at home, these few I’ve adopted can really help:
I treat journalling primarily as a way of telling my story of the day. Because telling a good story involves a lot of editing and condensing, this practice helps me to highlight the parts of my day that were really significant. I see the beauty and goodness of my day more clearly (and I’m more grateful as a result). I can also break down my problems when I write about them, and I can dedicate some thought to working out my negative emotions and committing to doing better.
2. Writing short notes and essays (blogging)
Writing something just for me every evening puts a satisfying creative achievement at the end of each day. Every night I add a new link to a chain of ideas I’ve found valuable, and every night I get to put down into words the lessons and observations I’ve made through the course of work and life. I don’t have to ask permission to blog, and unlike my creativity at work, there are few constraints to what I can write or write about.
3. Watching good films
If I’m at the end of a long work day and still compulsively checking email, I have entered into work tunnel vision. If I don’t get out, I’ll be less rested at home and less effective at work tomorrow. There are few things better than movies to transport me out of my less healthy post-work states of mind. If I’m feeling dry or gloomy, I might watch a good romantic comedy (I recently saw the excellent About Time). If I’m feeling confidence and longing, I’ll watch a classic adventure-type film (right now I’m watching The Lost City of Z). Movies focus the mind away from distractions and reduce sensory overload from other sources. They’re quite good for keeping mental balance in a stressful workweek.
4. Talking to close friends and family
Every Monday night, I get together with friends to talk about big ideas in spirituality, politics, and ethics. My roommate and I will chat and joke, ranging from small talk about work to deep conversations about philosophy and life. Lately, I’ve been talking to my Dad quite a lot. He has wisdom to share from his decades of work experience that can help me to put the troubles of the day into context. All of these conversations help me feel more connected outside of work, making the stresses of work just a little less intense.
5. Reading good fiction
Nothing original here. Tim Ferriss is a big advocate of this for the pre-sleep ritual, and there are plenty of reasons for serious professionals to read fiction. As with films, fiction (I’m reading Dune by Frank Herbert right now) takes me out of this world. In a parallel universe, I can absorb lessons, practice judgments, and experience excitement and wonder vicariously. My mind becomes energized while also relaxing.