By Eric Barker | Sep 25, 2017
Everybody talks about morning rituals but ending the day right can be even more important.
1) Have a “Shutdown Ritual”
Workday is over. But your mind is still going and going and going. You gotta get your brain out of “work mode” to relax.
A simple ritual can help. Have a consistent little routine that lets your overactive brain know “we’re done.”
2) Turn Weeknights Into Weekends
First let’s ask: why are weekends so great? Research says the big reason is more time with friends and family:
A large portion of the weekend effects is explained by differences in the amount of time spent with friends or family between weekends and weekdays (7.1 vs. 5.4 hours). The extra daily social time of 1.7 hours in weekends raises average happiness by about 2%.
So don’t just sit on the couch by yourself when you get home. Spend 2 hours with friends or family and you just turned a dull Tuesday night into a happy Saturday.
3) Mastery, Not TV
Research shows that “mastery experiences” are also key to helping people recover from the workweek.
So what’s that mean? Doing stuff you’re good at and trying to get better.
Actively engage in a hobby, don’t passively sit on the couch.
Most of us seek unscheduled free time for our leisure but given your brain’s lazy nature, research says you’re likely to waste that time doing what’s easy vs what’s really fun.
4) Wind Down, Don’t Collapse
Dim the lights and turn off all screens at least an hour before bed.
You wouldn’t walk around in bright daylight before trying to sleep for eight hours, would you? Well, when you stare at screens late at night, that’s pretty much what you’re doing.
Ten minutes of a smartphone in front of your nose is about the equivalent of an hour-long walk in bright daylight. Imagine going for an hour-long walk in bright daylight and then thinking, “Now I’ll get some sleep.” It ain’t going to happen.
5) Don’t Go To Bed Angry With Your Partner
Karl Pillemer of Cornell University interviewed nearly 1500 people age 70 to 100+ for his book “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.” What did they recommend most often for a happy relationship?
…if there was one ubiquitous recommendation about marriage it was this: “Don’t go to bed angry.”
Why might this be so powerful?
…most things that couples disagree upon aren’t worth more than a day’s combat… The joy that many of the experts express on waking in the morning next to a partner of decades is the flip side of this insight. Each additional day together is a gift. The end of the day means the end of hostilities, the recognition that the underlying shared values and commitment to the relationship trump the need for one last dig or self-righteous justification.
6) Write Down The Good Stuff That Happened
I’ve mentioned this a bunch in the past. But if you’re still not doing it, you need to start. This is all you have to do:
- Put a notepad and pen by the bed.
- Before you go to sleep each night, write down three things that happened that day which you’re thankful for.
- Then write a sentence about why each happened.
7) Schedule Something To Look Forward To
Studies show anticipation can actually be more enjoyable than getting the thing you’re anticipating.
…researchers who studied a thousand Dutch vacationers concluded that by far the greatest amount of happiness extracted from the vacation is derived from the anticipation period…
People who devote time to anticipating fun experiences are happier.
From Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage:
One study found that people who just thought about watching their favorite movie actually raised their endorphin levels by 27 percent. Often, the most enjoyable part of an activity is the anticipation. If you can’t take the time for a vacation right now, or even a night out with friends, put something on the calendar—even if it’s a month or a year down the road. Then whenever you need a boost of happiness, remind yourself about it.
Schedule a meal with a friend or designate a time the next day to indulge yourself with something simple that you love to do. Then be excited about it. That’s all it takes.