Updated: Feb 3, 2022
We have meaningful rituals for life's big transitions, like birthday parties, marriage ceremonies, and funerals. But what about for life's smaller transitions, like from daytime to nighttime?
Transitions in general are hard for me, and I used to really struggle with this one in particular. For a time, I associated sunsets with the end of sunlight, and often, a feeling of sadness. This was especially prevalent in the fall/winter months when the daylight hours are limited.
After a bit of self discovery, I recognized that sunsets often coincide with the end of working hours, thereby marking the end of "doing" and the beginning of "being". I wasn't sure how to shift my energy, nor align my activities accordingly, and so I decided to scour the internet to see if other humans were experiencing something similar.
I came across articles commenting on the importance of setting up your bedroom to be conducive to rest, and creating a consistent pre-bedtime routine to promote better sleep. My bedroom is already tidy though, and it's the transition around sunset that I was struggling with, not sleep. Nevertheless, the information I gathered sparked an idea: How about conducting a consistently inconsistent pre-bedtime routine? That sounds enjoyable!
To create such a routine, I would end up listing my top 10 nighttime activities. Each evening, I would determine one, or more than one, activity to enjoy depending on my mood and how I wanted to feel before bed. My current list of evening rituals to choose from includes: drawing a bath, brewing a pot of tea, practicing yoga, stretching my body, burning a candle, listening to an audiobook, going for a walk/run, reading a book, spraying my aromatherapy mist, and slipping on a soft set of pajamas.
As you create your personalized list of rituals, use as few words as possible, and format it in a single column to decrease sensory overload. For example, my list contains bullet points with single words written out like, "candle," instead of “light a candle," etc.
If you can only think of 3 activities that you would enjoy, then that can be your complete list. Your list may grow as you find other things you enjoy, but there is no rush in this self discovery process. You can complete as many, or as few, activities as you please. Edit your list as needed. Add new tasks. Remove the ones that no longer serve you. Perform them one at a time, or carry them out simultaneously. Maybe you like to read while taking a bath, or you enjoy listening to an audiobook while stretching. Duration doesn't matter either, so if reading a book looks like 1 page or 1 hour, do what your mind and body crave. All of the options on your list of rituals can be accomplished in any order, and for any length of time. Remember, consistently inconsistent.
If you prefer to look at a series of pictures rather than a list of words, feel free to draw or print out symbols that represent each of your favorite tasks. (This is also an effective alternative for kiddos.) Finally, place your list in a spot where you’ll easily see it. Put it by your bed, write it on the bathroom mirror, or save it in the Notes app on your phone to refer back to at any time. This list can be treated as a habit tracker where you witness how your interests change over time, or you can use it as a guide from which to recall and select the ways you deem ideal to spend the transition from day to night.
Be sure to share your evening rituals in the comments below. I can't wait to read them.