We’re creatures of memory. If we couldn’t remember our own identity each morning we wouldn’t really exist. We wouldn’t know who we are, why we’re here, who are our friends or our enemies. The subtle miracle of waking up each morning starts in fact each evening, when we go to sleep. And since we already have a lot of ways to start the day I thought it would be nice to find some ways to properly end it.
1. Project The Next Day
Plan it ahead, if you use a planner. Or just imagine how you want it to be. Picture it in your head. This doesn’t guarantee that it will go exactly like this, of course. But it will give you quite an accurate idea about what you want and will help you sleep better. You already know what is waiting for you, right?
2. Recap The Highlights
Rewind the current day until morning and start looking at the most important parts. I usually pick only three main points and start thinking at them, but your mileage may vary. You may go for only one highlight or for ten. The idea is to anchor your day exactly the way you want it.
You don’t need to do it more than 10-15 minutes, but you do want to do it often. It helps your mind to slow down and to prepare for the night. After a 10 minutes meditation, your mind will be quiet and light. Your body will slip into sleep without any effort and you’ll wake up as good as new.
4. Choose What To Dream
It doesn’t always work but its a very good exercise. It will put your brain on a creative path. And when it works, it’s really awesome. Of course, you never dream exactly what you planed, but if you manage to mix in just a few things you really want to dream about, then your sleep will turn into the show of your life.
5. Read A Story To Your Kids
Or to yourself. Or even to your partner. Stories are a wonderful way to switch your focus from the stress of the day and relocate your mind in a more relaxing realm. Our entire life is in fact just a story. In time, you may even try to create your own bedtime stories instead of reading some ready made stuff.
6. Write In Your Journal
If you don’t keep a journal, maybe it’s time to start having one. Writing in a clear and detached way about what you did in the last diurnal interval has an incredibly powerful effect on your being. It puts things in perspective, it cleans up your lenses and it creates your own personal history.
7. Take A Walk Alone
Let the events fly away, the emotions fade and the thoughts melt into silence. Just walk. No need to do it in a park or on a lonely street. As a matter of fact, walking on a busy street is even better. You may hit a glass wall if you’re not paying attention, but it will surely help you sleep better.
8. Give Or Receive A Massage
Of course, that means you’re not alone. 😉 And it also means you’re not making love, which is something completely different. Giving a massage requires a certain devotion, attention and skill. Being focused in this activity (either as a doer or as a receiver) will help you blend in the night in a magical way.
Watch a comedy. Or read a comic book. Or just listen to some jokes. Laughing is the cheapest, most enjoyable and clean medicine in the world. No matter how tired, sad, or frustrated you get after a bad day, giving yourself the chance to have a big laugh will cast away all the bad vibes.
10. Make Love
I don’t think you need reasons for this one. Or if you need, there’s something wrong somewhere.
11. Listen To Some Music
In the dark, just before you’re ready to fall asleep. When you close some of your senses, the remaining ones are taking much more from your attention span. Without vision, your hearing will fill all your focus and that music will sound very different. You can even dance a little, if you feel like. 😉
12. Do A (Very) Small Chore
Wash a glass or clean the kitchen table. While it won’t make the house shine, will still give you a sense of grounding. Your environment affects you in ways you can’t always perceive. Doing something nice for your surroundings just before you go to sleep will make things brighter in the morning.
13. Watch Some Personal Photos
You may not like your own image but your personal history is part of your life. Get soaked into it just before you go to sleep. It will help you build a sense of identity and structure. Bring in those pictures people you love or care about. Their images will sometimes go with you during the night, in your dreams.
14. Go To A Party
Preferably to one you know you’ll enjoy it. The people, the music, the joy, the atmosphere, well, all of these will make you literally step out of the clothes and structures of the day. It may even create some magical encounters which will make your life better, who knows. So don’t you ever refuse going to a nice party.
15. Write A Message To Someone You Care About
A short email, an SMS or even a plain old style paper letter. Just end your day with a little bit of care for somebody else. Thinking of your close circle of your friends is one thing, but acting on it with a message is something different. A very nice thing to do just before your day goes over.
16. Write A Short Story About Your Future Self
A complete imaginary story, of course, about yourself, in the near future. And because it’s just a story, you can put whatever you want in it. And because it’s about yourself, it will gradually blend into your ideas, reactions or goals. Next day you may recognize some of the situations you created in that subtle threshold between reality and the night dreams.
17. Get Rid Of An Useless Object
There must be something that is not necessary anymore in your house. Throw it away just before you end your day. Throw away objects, leftovers, garbage. This practice will make you better at throwing away useless people or habits in your life. And you’ll sleep better.
18. Prepare Your Next Day Clothes
It may sound shallow but it’s a really interesting way of ending the day. Try to imagine the next morning like an act from a theatrical play and choose your costume and your preferred role. Not only it will add a touch of playfulness to your next morning, but it will also force you to recompose your image.
19. Be Thankful
For at least one thing that happened during the day. If you can’t find that thing, then you’re in a real trouble. Start with something that “just went ok” and then move on to something you’re really grateful for. We do not pay enough attention to positive stuff in our lives, mostly because we’re too busy surviving.
20. Try To Remember The Same Evening From One, Two Or Ten Years Ago
That’s a little bit difficult, I admit, but it’s incredibly enlightening. I don’t always succeed remembering stuff so clearly, but when I do, it’s so much fun. Try to do it a week in a row, from Monday to Friday. Your life will seem so much different now. And way better than you think it actually is.
21. Try To Project This Evening To A Future One
In one, two or maybe ten years from now. That’s the mirror exercise for the one above. Try to imagine your evening in one year from now, same month, same day. Will you be still in the same place? With the same partner? Going to the same job? Let loose. Imagine a different existence. Eventually, it will come true. 😉
22. Do A Mild Yoga Session
Which may translate into a short sequence of stretching or just some really easy asanas. During the day you are unconsciously using entire groups of muscles, thus creating physical tension and sometime even psychological obstructions. A short yoga session will help you relieve those tensions.
23. Delete Some Email
I’m not using Inbox zero anymore, but I kept the pleasure of trashing the garbage whenever I get a chance to. And what better chance is to clean up your inbox then right before your day will end. It’s like doing that little chore around the house, only it will be pertaining to your digital house.
24. Visualize Your Waking Up Hour
I used to do this when I was a kid and I had to wake up early for some trips to other towns, like 4 or 5 AM. I used to visualize the number 4 or 5 and then trying to fall asleep immediately. Almost always I was getting up at that hour without a clock alarm or other help. try it. It may work for you too. 🙂
25. Do A White Night
Ok, this is not technically a way to end the day but rather to blend the day into the next one. A little bit extreme and definitely not something to do very often, but usually fun. That mysterious second when the night becomes the next day has something magical.
26. Watch The Sunset
I usually like to do this alone, but your mileage may vary. Either way, witnessing sunset is one of the most beautiful ways to end your day. Especially in a more natural surrounding than a city. But even in a city, the dusty line of the horizon, violently colored in red by the sunset, is a very nice view.
27. Clean Yourself Up
I’m not talking about your personal hygiene here, but more like trying to let go of the clutter you accumulated. It may be physical, or it may be psychological. Over the time I found out that a personal cleaning session (both physical and mental) just before going to bed can make miracles next day.
28. Have A Small Chat With A Friend
Just connect, this time not by sending a message, but by actually having a small talk. It will create a disruption in the flow of events and it will help you move your thoughts away from your daily chores. Just don’t forget to listen too while you’re having this conversation.
29. Check Your Pipes (And Unclog, If Necessary)
By “pipes” I’m referring to our internal sewage system. Psychologically speaking, we’re not functioning without residual matter. That matter is accumulating in our “pipes” and, if not handled with care, it will explode sooner or later. Just do a checkup and see if you can unload some unprocessed stress.
30. Have A Cup Of Tea
There is something both playful and formal about having a cup of tea. At some point it may become a ceremony and at the other just the liquid pretext of letting your thoughts floating around. I usually choose the second option, but trying a little tea ceremony could be interesting too.
31. Have A Glass Of Wine
Of course, you can have a glass of wine while watching sunset or chatting with your friends. I’m talking about something else here: about really savoring a glass of wine, without doing anything else. In moderation, wine is a great anti-inhibitor and quite a healthy beverage. It also helps you go to sleep faster. Or so I heard. 😉
Don’t get too caught in this routine of “having to end your day in a certain way”. Just do something that you’ve never done before. Close your day in style. Learn a Japanese Kanji character each evening or learn to cook kosher. Go to a sumo competition or count to 1000 in Arabic. Do your own thing.
33. Schedule A Way To Start Your Day
That has little to do, if anything, with number one from this list, “how to project your day”. It’s not about projecting. It’s about choosing that tiny first thing you want to do when you wake up. That first thing will shape your entire day. If you don’t know how to do it, just start here, there’s 33 ways to start your day. Pick the one you want. 🙂