Picture this: it’s nine o’clock at night. After a long day, you’re lounging on the couch, scrolling through your social feeds while Netflix hums in the background. There’s a part of you that knows this isn’t the best way to unwind, yet somehow it just keeps happening. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. We’ve all been in this scenario, but it might not be serving us.
Your evening ritual is a critical component for full-body recovery. It’s the time of day when your body works to repair, detoxify, and rebuild other cells that were damaged during the day. The restorative wisdom below is here to help you design an evening ritual you love and that loves you back.
There’s a reasonable explanation as to why you keep finding yourself in this suboptimal habit of evening phone scrolling and Netflix binging. All of the stress from a busy and chaotic day can elevate your cortisol levels, causing you to reach for the most convenient sources of escape.
After a long day of mental stimulation from work and other responsibilities, your mind is craving a dopamine hit. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released when we meet our primal needs like eating or connecting with others. It’s a feel-good hormone that can offset all types of stress. Plenty of studies have found that this release of dopamine also occurs when we look at our phones. Those funny cat videos or chatting with friends? It's no wonder we automatically turn to our phones when we’re trying to relieve stress.
But here awaits an opportunity for you to make a shift toward a stronger, healthier evening ritual - one that you have more control of and serves your physical and mental well-being. At the end of your work day, it’s important to create a transition so that your brain knows it’s time to unwind and relax. Think of it like flipping an ON / OFF switch in your mind.
Here are a few simple ways to create a restorative evening routine:
- Start by creating a relaxed atmosphere. Simply dimming the lights in your home and turning off all blue light devices (computers and phones) can help your body understand the day is ending and that it’s time to relax. Blue light can prevent the body from resting, as the brain interprets it as daytime light, keeping us wired, and preventing quality sleep. Consider incorporating candles for soft, glowing light and turning off all devices (including the television) an hour before you plan to fall asleep and reading a book or journaling right before you fall asleep, instead.
- Enhance mental and physical relaxation with a warm cup of gold mixed with your favorite milk alternative. Much like a warm cup of milk comforts and lulls a baby into sleep, gold is curated especially for your evening wind down. Containing reishi mushroom, known as the “grounding mushroom” and lemon balm extract, “the calming herb,” it’s the perfect bedtime treat to support restful sleep, recovery, and a healthy response to stress, which are essential to wake up feeling great.
- Dedicate at least 30 minutes to a mindfulness activity. Instead of getting lost in your usual scrolling or Netflix daze, commit to a sunset stroll in nature with loved ones - a great way to catch up with one another. Alternatively, relaxing yoga, stretching, cuddling with your partner, fur babies, or children, and even just five minutes of meditation can help you transition from waking to rest, while also providing you a healthy dopamine boost.
- And lastly, create boundaries that put your mental well-being and health at the forefront. Sure, you could easily respond to that late incoming email. In today’s world we have 24/7 access to our work, emails, and the external world. However, that doesn’t mean we have to be ON or actively engaged in our commitments 24/7. This mindset contributes to a bulk of the stress that our society endures- the very stress that primes the way to chronic illness and dis-ease. It might be worth it to make it a household commitment of not checking emails, social accounts, or other notifications after a certain hour. To hold yourself accountable, try keeping your devices away from your nightstand or even turning off your WiFi to make them less accessible.
Now it’s your turn to create an evening ritual that serves your highest well-being. You can start with the four elements we shared here today, then add your own intuitive spin.
About the Author: Nia Carrillo is a Mind-Body Nutritionist and Energy Healer specializing in helping individuals heal cycles with food, their body, and emotions. Nia believes in a whole-being approach, bridging the gap between science and the metaphysical for physical and spiritual transformation. She received her Master's in Nutrition in 2018 and is also trained in many modalities such as Hypnotherapy, MBSR (mind-body-spirit release) Technique, Emotional Clearing (MER), NLP, Reiki, and Breathwork. Nia is currently based in San Diego, with her husband and two dogs, Boots and Douglas.