When you are in that work, school, or just general life grind, your evenings can seem so precious. You survived the day, now you have a few hours to decompress before you shut your eyes to do it all over again. Maybe you spend your evenings by yourself, with your partner, or surrounded by awesome roommates. One common activity that seems to have become our go-to before bed? Just staring at the pretty little pocket-sized screen we have. Sure, catch up with the world after your long day. But when you find yourself in a rut of constant scrolling, try some of these activities that have been able to stand the test of time.
I know, I know. It seems we are always being told to just pick up a book and read more. But, reading can actually reduce stress and boost brain power, according to The Telegraph. If you are intimidated by a big book that you’re worried will bore you, pick out something that will entertain you. Think about when you were a kid picking out books in the library at school. You could choose anything you wanted. Let that same wandering spirit lead you today. If the latest romance novel all the other gals in the office are raving over isn’t of interest to you, lean towards a genre that is. Memoirs, mysteries, and graphic novels can all entertain you. Books just aren’t your style? Pick up a magazine with enriching articles, the daily newspaper, or even a new cookbook. Reading something that is interesting to you will be much more enriching than scrolling through the same 20 tweets you’ve seen all evening.
There is a great podcast out by actress and writer Susan Blackwell and writer and producer Laura Camien that discusses new forms of creativity every episode. I always find it very enlightening and inspirational to try and create something every day. Is there a screenplay you’ve always wanted to write? A painting for your foyer that you just haven’t gotten around to? Maybe it’s something small, like patching a hole on your favorite pair of jeans. The 2018 Study “Everyday Creative Activity as a Path to Flourishing” concluded that engaging in a creative activity just once a day can lead to a more positive mindset. Think about what will bring you joy as you complete a new project you have given yourself.
Work on a Puzzle
This is one that my boyfriend and I recently started picking up. It is very relaxing and helps you wind down for the night while you complete this week-long (more or less) challenge. Puzzle solving has some great benefits, like improving memory and mood. Pick out a challenging 1,000 piece picture at Target or TJ Maxx. You now have something set that you know you can do for the next week before bed. You can also try other puzzles like crosswords, sudoku, or your favorite board game to wind down.
Actually Watch a Movie
Of course, we are in the age of endless content to watch. You may think that staring at the TV screen is equivalent to just staring at your phone. But, when is the last time you watched a movie, documentary, or series without looking at your phone the whole time? Leave your phone in the other room to charge and invest in that movie you’ve been wanting to see. Is there a classic cinematic obsession that you still haven’t seen yet? Grab your roommates, watch it, and discuss it afterwards — no phones invited to this gathering. It is amazing how much more enjoyable a movie can be when you aren’t distracted by your phone and can actually follow what is happening. Engage your brain for a full two-and-a-half hour movie to hopefully save some of that fleeting attention span that is happening globally.
An oldie, but a goodie. At the end of a long day, one of the most soothing practices can be writing it all out. Those details and feelings you need to release, those elated moments you won’t want to forget, put it all on paper. If writing a full entry is daunting to you, try starting a bullet journal filled with lists and goals that you can tend to each day. Putting pen to paper in any way can be the perfect way to end your day and reset for tomorrow.
Listen to a Podcast or New Music
A podcast or music doesn’t have to be a commute-only activity. Fill your home with new music you’ve been wanting to listen to or that podcast your coworkers are obsessed with. We have a few favorites as well! If you are in the mood to multitask while you listen, try cleaning your apartment or cleaning out your closet. Bake up a new recipe or fill up that tub for a perfect night in. Rediscover what kind of music you love or listen to conversations that could set you up for a better day tomorrow.
Talk About Your Day
Do you ever have those days or weeks that you seem to bottle up every detail that happened, and then it explodes in a way you definitely didn’t plan? I certainly do. When you’re sitting on the couch at night with your partner or roommate and catch yourself scrolling side by side, try doing the mildest form of conversation by breaking down your day. It’s very easy to shrug off “it was fine” and move on with what you were doing when actually, there is probably a funny story that happened or a frustrating experience that you could be sharing. This can bring you both closer while also helping you release some stress as you come to a close on this day. One of my favorite evening activities to do is call my mom or my long distance best friend and just chat. Chat about our days, what’s going on in life, what food I should order for dinner — a solid in-person or over-the-phone conversation outweighs any quick text catch up or the Instagram like that is supposed to substitute for staying in touch.
These are just a few ways to break out of that scrolling rut and stay connected. Stay connected with yourself, your own dreams, your passions, and with those that you are sharing the couch with.