Feb. 15. 2017
Articles
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder and CEO

A guide on how to create an evening routine for better sleep and relaxation from your full day.

Routines are all about creating small daily practices that add up and transition into long-term habits. That’s why something as simple as an evening routine, can impact your health and wellbeing in many ways.

Creating more space in your life to do the rituals and routines you need to feel your best, is a key part of taking care of yourself. When we talk with our Wellness Coaching clients about morning routines, we’re not just talking about making dinner, watching TV, and getting ready for tomorrow — we’re talking about ending your day with more relaxation and intention.

Manifest A Relaxing Evening

Just as important as the morning routine is, your evening routine is another “non-negotiable” to help keep you balanced and live a happier and healthier lifestyle.

My evening routine will look different than yours, but my hope is that by sharing mine it’ll help you cultivate yours and show you a framework to create your own. I’d love to hear in the comments below what’s part of your evening routine – I’m sure we all can benefit from learning more from each other.

My “evening” routine starts whenever I stop working — the goal is typically around 4 pm where I’m at today — but owning a company comes with a lot of moving parts and sometimes it’s really hard to put work away this early.

Sometimes I work until about 8-9pm which isn’t my ideal, but that’s life and it’s all about recognizing where you can create a routine the majority of the time. Many of you are in the same boat with juggling school and work, commuting to and from work, raising families, having a booming social life, etc. I challenge you to develop your goal and ideal evening routine and work your way up to achieve it without getting too strict or rule-based about it.

McKel’s Evening Routine

4:00 pm:

My first attempt to shut off work. Again, creating boundaries with how much energy I put into work will always be a daily practice for me because I love what I do so much. Therefore, I typically set alarms on my phone or now that my husband works with Nutrition Stripped, he’s a great gentle reminder to not work more than a productive 8 hour day in order to create balance in the other beautiful parts of my life like spending time with my love, friends, and family.

A tip and something that helps me “shut off” work and create a boundary between working hours and “me-time” is to go on a walk. Going outside with Luna and taking her on a quick walk is a nice mental, physical, and emotional separation between work and other parts of life. It really helps shake the day off!

Intermission

After I take a quick walk to shake off work stuff and get into me-mode or do other things for the evening, I might listen to a podcast about business, health, or spirituality and give back to my mind as much as I invested in other things from the day.

Every single day is different, but during this time I might run errands, go have a drink with a friend, have a park date with a friend, go see our nephews and nieces, read a book, go to the pool if it’s that time of year, etc.

6:00 pm

Dinner always depends on the day, but we actually prefer to eat dinner earlyish so 5-6pm is my happy place giving enough time to digest before bed — and squeeze in dessert later. Some of my go-to dinner recipes are Simple Stir-frys from batch cooking on the weekend and from the Meal Planning Program, soups like the Zinger Warming Soup or Moroccan Tomato-Chickpea Stew with Walnut Gremolata from the #NScookbook, breakfasts for dinner like scrambled eggs with veggies, avocado and sauerkraut. Endless possibilities and it all depends on the season.

Need a little help with meal prep to speed up your routine? Here are a couple things to help you plan ahead for dinners and/or in case you’re new to the NS lifestyle – I’m all about batch cooking (you can become a Meal Planning Program student if you need help with meal plans, batch cooking, and grocery shopping lists galore!), there’s also a great resource section I was really excited to share in the

7:00 pm

Again, every evening looks a bit different, but typically after dinner, we may take Luna on a quick walk and I’ll follow up with a quick 10-minute stretch/foam rolling session to stretch out the day.

The rest of the night just depends on our schedule, some weeks I have nightly meetings with a Mastermind group, or I’ll have evening yoga, or events to attend, etc. Mostly we’ll go hang out with family and friends and have a low key hang, typically with a nice glass of red wine and chats.

Otherwise, I watch movies, read books, etc., which just goes to show that simpler and more low key activities are the best for me since most of my career and work is typically giving a lot of energy. It’s nice to honor my introvert side and recharge with self-reflection, spiritual practice, and just give back to myself before the next day.

9:00 pm:

This is typically when I’ll take some time, anywhere between 20-30 minutes, to do a little self-beauty care with my nighttime beauty routine. It could be putting on a mask, doing a facial massage routine, etc. Then changing into cozy clothes and cuddling up on the couch with a weighted blanket, and essential oils in the diffuser.

I chatted about the concept of hygge and this is such a great example of hygge – the coziness that comes when you start to unwind and get comfortable. That immediately gets me into relaxation mode and I’m ready to snuggle up, drink some hot tea, read a book, watch a movie, catch up with friends and family out of state on FaceTime, or do some artwork.

10:00 pm:

If I’m waking up around 6 am, my goal is to be in bed around 10 pm which ensures I get a full 8 hours. Sometimes in the fall and winter since it gets so dark early I often go to bed even earlier with ease and catch up on massive amounts of sleep and get 9hrs! That’s an ideal scenario and doesn’t always pan out haha.

I also exercise a lot of flexibility with my bedtime because that’s life! Some nights I’m up very late, past midnight and adjust my morning wake up time accordingly. It’s all about balance and finding what works for your life, and for me, it’s about making time for relationships and the things that matter most to me at the end of the day.

Right before I go to bed, I’ll recite some mantras followed up by filling out my Five Minute Journal right before my head hits the pillow. You can read more about My Skincare Routine: Body and Face Edition and the ultimate routine for better sleep. I’ll be doing a post more on my nighttime beauty routine in the future.

Additional things I love in the evening to help me relax: essential oil diffuser, adult coloring books, weighted blankets, and the Five Minute Journal.

How To Find An Evening Routine That Works For You

  1. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
  2. Write out your evening routine to visualize all the potential challenges or barriers you might come across. That way you can strategize and plan for those when they arise.
  3. Now close your eyes and envision yourself practicing that evening routine. This helps work out those little “in between” steps you might not think about.
  4. Go with the flow. The first time you start your evening routine it might be best to start adding in 1 thing at a time and then working up to it.
  5. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. Embrace this time all about you, for you.
  6. Don’t get too rigid about your evening routine because life happens and you’ll have to stay creative and open to try new things.
  7. Try it for 2 weeks straight and see how you feel.

Have any questions? Ask! I hope that sharing my personal routine helps you cultivate your own routine and ritual, doing things that you absolutely love and that make your heart and spirit happy. I’d love to hear some of your evening routines – let’s start the conversation here as well.