Slow Intentional Evenings
I used to be someone who spent at least the last 3 hours watching television every night. If it wasn't a movie, it was YouTube and/or Pinterest. I wasn't even engaged in what I was doing; I'd have a movie on, my laptop open (with at least 4-6 tabs), and the ding of a notification would pull me back into mindlessly scrolling the world of social media.
Now I know I'm not alone in this, according to the 2018 Q3 Nielsen Report, the average adult spends 5 hours and 24 minutes per day consuming video content.
Cheryl Mendelson puts it succinctly in her book Home Comforts: the Art and Science of Keeping House, "No one can afford a daily habit of television" (p. 597).
Now are these things inherently bad? Absolutely not! In moderation, and with intention, these things can add value and enjoyment to our lives.
Beginning to cultivate a more intentional evening can be difficult at first, especially in our fast paced world. If slow living is a new concept, you might feel a bit restless and antsy as you step back from the noise and choose the slower pace of single tasking and mindful evenings. I still struggle with it at times, and that's okay. We're not looking for perfection here. This is not a "routine" or list of things do do (although feel free to incorporate them into your evening routine if you wish). Instead, consider them as a list of ideas to inspire you as you embrace a slower, mindful, and more intentional evening.
After all the noise of the day, take some time to unplug. Try to turn off your devices at least an hour or two before bed (National Sleep Foundation).
One of my favorite family traditions is lacing up our sneakers after the dinner clean up for an evening stroll. Whether you go on a walk or sit on the back deck to watch the sunset, do something to get some fresh air...even if it's just opening a window or two.
Preparing for the Morrow
As the night draws to a close I take some time to prepare for the next day. For me this means soaking some grains, beans, or lentils for any meal I plan to make. Most times this is just some oats for my morning breakfast. (Science Note: Soaking not only reduces the cooking time, but it also increases the bioavailability of nutrients; Learn more here.) You could also start a loaf of bread (or some cinnamon roles), leaving the dough to rise in the fridge overnight.
Even though I've finally made it a habit to tidy as go throughout my day, I'll take some time each evening to put everything back in its place. I'll make sure that all my items are picked up from the living areas and make sure the surfaces and floors are clear in my bedroom. I don't know about you, but I can't go to sleep with a messy room.
If you do have an early start to your morning it might be helpful to set out your clothes and prepare your bag for the next day.
Create an Atmosphere
Welcome the evening with the natural rhythm of the sunset, keeping the lights dim when they are needed. Lighting a fire or some candles creates the perfect ambiance to end the day. Diffuse a few drops of your favorite essential oil (I enjoy lavender and eucalyptus) as you settle in for the night.
Enjoy the sounds of silence and nature or put on some calming instrumental music. The Deep Focus and Peaceful Guitar playlists on Spotify have been my recent favorites.
Enjoy a Cup of Tea (or Two)
I drink tea no matter the time of day, but in the evenings I trade in my black and green teas for herbal ones. My current favorite is a mix of Camomile and Lemongrass. There's just something about ending the day with a warm drink and a book in hand.
Read a Book
Speaking of which, this is the perfect time to cozy up with a good novel. Most of the time I prefer non-fiction, but as these require more mental energy to read and digest, I do my best to save them for daytime reading. I am truly of the persuasion that everyone should spend time daily with a good book. So pick up that book you've been wanting to read and allow the pages to pull you in.
As your mind begins to slow down, take tome time for reflection and introspection. Check in with yourself. How are you doing? How was your day? There are a lot of different ways to journal, try them all or stick with your own thing. Remember, there is no right or wrong way.
I bullet journal. So at the end of my day I'll review my weekly spread and write down what I accomplished that day, make some notes on what I intend to accomplish tomorrow, and jot down how I'm doing on any goals or habits that I'm working on. I do also enjoy traditional and flow of conscious journaling, which is when you write continuously without editing your thoughts. These methods are great to help you clear your head after a long day and process what's going on in your life.
Many times we stay up too late and which leads us to rush in order to get all that necessary personal care stuff done. We speed brush our teeth, splash some water on our face and call it good.
Instead, let's slow down and be intentional. Now I'm not saying you need an hour-long pamper session (unless of course you want to, as those are enjoyable from time to time), but give yourself a few extra minutes to truly take care of yourself.
My evening personal care routine is very simple: I brush my teeth, wash my face with warm water and my feet (with soap), comb thru and braid my hair, then apply some Rosehip Oil to my face.
Watch a Movie Intentionally
Because occasionally it is enjoyable to sit down and watch a movie, we're going to add it to this list. This time though, get rid of all distractions and become completely engaged in the moment. Invite friends or family and make a night of it. Whip up a wholesome snack, grab a refreshing drink, cosy up with a blanket and enjoy the film.
What are some other ways that we can enjoy a slow intentional evening?