Relaxing in the evening

Healthy alternatives to watching TV

Watching TV is part of many people’s relaxation — but be discerning about what you watch. Why not peruse the listings while you drink your water or juice to see if there is anything you really want to watch rather than settling down with the remote control. If there isn’t anything compelling to watch, you can spend the time doing something completely different — from pampering yourself to reading a book or calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages. Alternatively, spend some quality time with your partner or playing with the kids or the dog!

Work up a sweat

If your brain feels sluggish after a day in a meeting room or in front of a computer terminal, liven up with exercise. A study from the University of Illinois found that physical activity increased blood flow to the brain, bringing fresh oxygen and glucose.

Liven up after work with some exercise

Studies show that the best time for exercise is between four and seven in the evening — which fits in perfectly with post-work evenings. It’s great if you can fit in your workout before you even go home, as that means once you get home, your evening is truly free. If not, have your kit ready and waiting for you when you get home so you don’t get frustrated hunting around for your trainers, and feel tempted to abandon your good intentions. While some research suggests that late evening workouts affect your ability to get to sleep, others have found that evening exercise can actually enhance your ability to drop off and improve the quality of your sleep. See what works for you.

Healthy meals

Whether you’ve been working out or enjoying an evening at the theater, it really helps to have a meal ready — or almost ready — to eat when you get home. Make sure the fridge is stocked with healthy staples such as stir-fry ingredients, salad leaves, tomatoes, mushrooms, avocados, lean meats and low fat cheese. Tins of salmon, sardines and tuna are useful to store essentials, along with beans and pulses, brown rice and pasta. Why not make a batch of vegetable soup, ratatouille or stew and freeze it in single-serve helpings?

For real last-minute dinners, you don’t have to resort to the takeaway: choose a vegetable-rich soup from the chiller counter and eat with wholemeal bread, or serve smoked mackerel with beetroot, a dollop of natural yogurt and salad leaves.

Make a splash

Don’t go to bed without a shower or bath, to help cleanse you both physically and mentally. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, as this will revive, rather than relax you. Remove make-up, and nourish your face and body with moisturiser to help rehydrate skin. Cell renewal is at its most active overnight.

Sleep sanctuary

Keep your bedroom clean and clutter-free to aid a good night’s sleep. Bed is not the place to read that report for work or plan your presentation for a new client. Keep the bedroom for sleeping. If you still have work-related worries on your mind, write them down in a notebook under the heading ‘Things to think about tomorrow’ and then close it.

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