The following is a scene I act out myself on a twice-monthly basis:
Thursday: Wow, I don’t have any plans next week! I should see this person, and go to this event, and try this new workout in a far-away neighborhood, and have a date night here — it’ll be sooooo fun.
Monday, 5pm: Must. Cancel. Everything. (goes home and lays on couch to watch trash reality television, while simultaneously playing on my phone, until approximately 10:30pm)
It’s the Curse of the Adult Witching Hour. Drained from a full day of work, meetings, pings, and beeps, all the illustrious plans you made for Post-Work You go completely down the drain as you zombie-march towards the one safe space in this world: Couch.
Adult Witching Hour is beatable during summer, when more daylight and more easily accessible enthusiasm combine to beat the post-work slump. But as we get into fall, I find myself pulled more and more towards walking in the door at 5pm and barely moving for the rest of the night. At the same time, it drives me crazy that I, a pretty active and “let’s do things” type of person, fall into this trap night after night out of sheer laziness. I want to make the most out of those early evening hours — but how?
Enter: our tips for beating the Adult Witching Hour. Here’s how to boost your energy in the evening so you don’t fall into the Sunken Place of your couch every weeknight.
Refresh your commute home
What could you do on your way home from work that energizes you? Maybe it’s listening to This Is Taylor Swift Radio on Spotify, maybe it’s walking home instead of taking the bus, or maybe it’s using that commute time to call a friend and catch up. Or, take five minutes to meditate and mentally disconnect from the stress of the work day.
Why on the way home? Well, we understand that mornings are often go-go-go with little time for long walks, calling friends, or doing anything other than what’s necessary to get out the door (especially if kids are in the picture). Reenergizing your commute home, however, is a lot more doable and will help you reset your mind when you walk in the door after work. Personally, I walk home from work and call my dad almost every day — I love connecting with him and knowing that I’m getting some light exercise in at the same time, rather than sitting on the bus staring at my phone screen.
When you walk in the door — DON’T hit the couch
You know that whole mentality of “if I don’t buy a package of Oreos at the grocery store, I can’t eat Oreos in large quantities at home”? Take that idea and apply it to your couch. When you get home, pretend that couch isn’t staring at you from the side of the room.
Instead, take five to ten minutes to do absolutely ANYTHING besides sit down. Unload the dishwasher, unpack your gym bag, water your plants, or walk the dog. Flopping on the couch post-work is a sublime feeling, I agree, but it’s also going to make it that much harder for you to do anything else the rest of the night (speaking from the experience once hitting the couch after work and then deciding cooking dinner was too hard, so ate chips and guac and pickles as a “meal”).
Fully disconnect from your workday
I think one of the biggest drains on post-work energy is not feeling like we’re totally off-the-clock yet. Most of us don’t have the luxury of completely disconnecting from work when we leave the office. Sometimes, I come home and think of all the things I still have to do, and I feel like I’m entering a whole new workday before I’ve even had dinner — so naturally, my brain rebels and decides it doesn’t want to do ANYTHING at all. Anyone else?
Regardless of whether or not you have work to do later (because we know those times will pop up), try taking a few minutes at the end of the “official” work day to mindfully disconnect from the previous eight hours. Gretchen Rubin once spoke about how her home office is on the top floor of her house, so when she comes downstairs at the end of her workday, she has the mental satisfaction of “leaving the office.”
In my house, I make sure to physically shut my computer (especially if I’ve worked from home that day) and keep it out of sight. I also turn on Low Power Mode on my phone so my phone doesn’t ping every time a work email comes in, and I put on a podcast or some music while I get dinner ready to mentally clear the air around me.
Something I’d love to try in the future, however, is taking 5-10 minutes to meditate after work. I love the idea of using meditation as an end-of-day refresher to clear my head and let me approach the last few hours of the day with intention and energy.
Even if it’s not a “workout,” move
I’m just not a big evening workout person. I feel best in the mornings, so that’s when I schedule the majority of my sweat sessions. It’s a great way to start the day, but it does have an unintended effect: if I don’t have a workout scheduled after work, I tend to become a couch potato post-work.
If that sounds like you, too, try finding ways to move that aren’t a full-on workout. Walk the last few blocks home from work instead of taking the bus the whole way. If you’re going to talk to someone on the phone, take it while pacing back and forth. Do 10 jumping jacks (or a one-minute “workout”) while the oven preheats, or dance around a little bit while you listen to the last few minutes of your favorite playlist. An object in motion stays in motion, so use that knowledge to help fight the post-work slump.