Nights out might be a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean that your evenings have to be boring. At the beginning of 2020 many of us relished the extra time to ourselves that COVID-19 lockdowns brought us, but when we’re this many months into not being able to see friends, travel or even really leave the house, it’s time to shake up our nightly routines into something with more purpose.
Working from home blurs the boundaries between work and home life for many. We’ve definitely found ourselves answering work emails at 11pm and getting the washing up done in the gaps between video meetings. Without a commute home, or drinks with friends after office hours are done to end the workday and begin the evening, it can be hard to know where your work life ends and where your personal life begins.
To solve this problem, which is exacerbated by the long, dark nights of winter (anyone who doesn’t get sleepy in the afternoons when the sun sets at 3.30pm frankly deserves a medal), we’ve put together a nighttime routine filled with acts of self-care that should make it easier for you to truly relax and switch off - and get a good night’s sleep into the bargain. Once you’ve shut your laptop, put down your pen and stretched to get rid of the tension in your shoulders, this is how you should spend your night.
A nourishing dinner
As tempting as it might be to rip open a packet of instant noodles, eating a junk food-based dinner isn’t going to help your fitness goals. Eating a balanced, nutritionally complete diet is one of the most important things to consider when you’re looking to stay healthy and support your workout plan.
Whether you’re trying to pack on muscle, get a little leaner or simply wanting to nourish your body with the freshest, most balanced diet you possibly can, eating a dinner which is not only good for you but that you find delicious is an important marker when moving from work time to you time.
Innermost has some great recipes just begging for the chance to be made in your kitchen - check out our rainbow salad, made with prawns, chilli and coriander, a warming Moroccan chickpea soup with spices which will make your house smell warm and toasty, or this vegan lentil and mushroom pasta bolognese which will impress your partner and housemates.
As lunch is nowadays more than ever a quick bite scoffed over your computer while crumbs fall everywhere, it can be a helpful mental divider to eat dinner sitting at a table, with real silverware as opposed to just a spoon, and use it as either a time of self-reflection or a space to talk to your dinner companions about their day.
Entertainment with purpose
We all love a good Netflix binge, but sometimes it can be useful to watch a film or TV show with purpose. Choosing entertainment that’s critically acclaimed, in the zeitgeist or beneficial to your mind in some ways might not be quite as tempting as the latest reality show (although no judgement - we all love trashy TV on occasion), but it’s more likely to foster original thoughts, conversation and debate. Even it’s it’s just you and your partner asking each other whodunnit.
If you need some inspiration, take a look at our monthly series Innermost Recommends, where we pull together our favourite songs, books and films for the month. Got a suggestion? Hit us up on our socials - we’d love to hear what you’ve been watching.
If you’ve been feeling frustrated, stuck or cooped up (and who hasn’t, recently?), giving a creative outlet a go could be the making of you. Drawing, writing, painting, collaging and cake decorating all count, so pick the arts-and-crafty option that appeals to you most and go to town.
Whatever you choose, it’s crucial to get creative without the fear of judgement, either from yourself or others. Give yourself permission to go crazy and put whatever’s on your mind out into the world, whether that’s through a poem, a watercolour or a knitted scarf.
A nighttime ritual
Even if you’re a shower-in-the-morning kind of person, there’s no denying that having a hot shower or a warm bath as part of your nighttime routine is a winner. At the very least, it’s impossible to bring your phone into the shower, so you’ll cut down on your screen time.
Rather than just a standard shower, try treating yourself to a new exfoliating body wash or a face mask to pamper yourself - you deserve it!
Even if you’ve done all of the above and more, sometimes you climb into bed and still find your mind buzzing. After dark is the perfect time for some sleep yoga, a guided meditation or a mindfulness exercise. If you’re looking for some meditation inspiration, check out our guide to getting started.