Are your nights stressing you out? Between lengthy commutes, meal prep, preparing your child’s things for school or daycare, and demands from work, most of us dread the chaos of weekday evenings. A number of my clients in my psychotherapy practice describe the “second shift” of coming home after work as a race to check items off a to-do list. Some describe a wish for their kids to just go to bed so they can get things done. All of them describe it as immensely stressful.
What’s more, in addition to feeling the stress, a lot of us also feel the absence of quality time with our kids or partners, as well as a lack of time for self-nurture or self-care. This is where mindfulness can help. In brief, mindfulness is an intentional practice of being present-focused and aware of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations, without judgment. It is the opposite of being on autopilot. When we are mindful we are more aware of our thoughts and feelings, are less emotionally reactive, and often feel less stressed.
Read on for 5 Tips for a More Mindful Evening.
- Practice Mindfulness During Your Commute: Believe it or not, a stressful commute home is a perfect opportunity for a short mindful meditation practice. Taking the metro home? Instead of a podcast, consider listening to a guided meditation If you are driving home, try tuning in to your breath and bringing your attention back to your breath whenever your mind wanders. For those who walk or bike home from work, consider a moving meditation where you focus on connecting to the felt experience of your body moving.
- Mindfully Mark Transitions: Before you enter your house or pick up your child from school or daycare, take 10 deep slow breaths, set an intention, or do some brief stretching. Taking the time to slow down and center yourself can help ease the experience of shifting roles from work to home and help you feel more grounded as you start your night.
- Put the phone away: This one can be tough as many of us have jobs that require us to be reachable at all times. However, even a brief reprieve from being constantly on call is worthwhile. I recommend putting your phone in another room as it’s easy to fall into mindless habits of checking email or social media. This intentional technology break will help you feel more tuned in with yourself, and with your family, and hopefully feel less stressed out.
- Practice Self Nurture: Before you jump into household or work tasks, try a 5-minute mindful self-care practice. Perhaps wash your face slowly, light a candle, do a yoga pose. Yes, this requires devoting some time away from other tasks and to-dos, but when you practice mindfulness, time can feel more expansive and tasks can feel less urgent. Put another way, allowing yourself to slow down and check in for a few minutes can calm anxiety such that tackling your to-do list feels less stressful.
- Do One Task Mindfully: Chose something that you typically do on autopilot, and experiment with making it mindful. For example, say you do the dishes every night or have a nightly cup of tea. Instead of rushing through it, take the opportunity to tap into each of your five senses as you complete the task. This simple mindfulness practice is a way to tune into the present moment, connect more with how you are feeling, and slow down.