Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote sits directly in front of me in my office. I read it at the end of every day to remind myself that I have done the best that I could with the day that was given me.
Especially in today's 24-7-365 world, it is sometimes difficult to know when one day ends and another day begins. Decades ago, there was a clear line of delineation between work and home; between on-time and down-time. Now, we must be intentional with our efforts to conclude the day.
Finding ways to reduce our evening stress and sleep better is not just a health benefit (although insomnia is a major health risk). It's also a bottom line benefit. The average worker loses 11 days of productivity each year due to insomnia.
Here are 6 simple ideas to help you disconnect from your work, re-connect with yourself, and bring your best self to the challenges that will greet you the following day.
Change your clothes.
"Are you putting on your work costume today?" 12 years ago, my 15-year old posed this question to me when he was 3. I hear that question in my mind at the end of every work day. Exchanging our "work costume" in favor of something more comfortable helps us shed the layers of the day and let down our guard.
Physically separate yourself from your workday.
One of the strategies I teach my clients is to implement "buffer zones" that allow us to transition from one situation or environment to another. If you haven't worked out, hit the gym. Take a walk. Go for a bike ride.
For people who commute, we tend to use that time to squeeze as much productivity as possible out of the day. Rather than doing one more call, tune into the solitude of the car, call someone that you know will make you smile and not ask anything of you, or listen to something that inspires you.
Eat dinner without rushing.
Our workday tends to propel our pace into overdrive. We don't have to stay in that zone. This is one area that I need to improve. I LOVE good food, and yet I often rush through my meals. Of course, the hustle of evening activities can get in the way of the best planning. However, when we can do it, preparing and enjoying a good meal with those we love/enjoy is a great way to transition into a good evening.
Set a hard time to disconnect from everything. We live in a constant state of information overload, and we've become a very reactive society, instantly responding to texts and emails. Constant connectivity is a proven health risk. Our minds need the breaks.
Seek Out Water.
"When kids are crabby, put them in water." This is great advice from the artist and poet SARK on "How to Love a Child." It works for adults too. Run a bath, take a shower, or hit the whirlpool or steam room at your gym.
Let it go.
At the end of the day, you may criticize yourself for something that you didn't get done, for something that didn't go your way, or for something that you did that you shouldn't have done. Let it go. It's over and you can't undo it. Self-forgiveness is the quickest path to accepting the present state of events. Instead, recount the progress that you did make. Chances are, in 8-10 hours, you probably did some great things.
Our windows of opportunity to recharge after a long work day are scarce blocks of time. You decide how much of the day's stress you allow into your sacred downtime.
Wishing all of you a renewed sense of peace this evening as you exhale the events of today.