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Doing 5 Simple Things After 7 PM Can Drastically Improve Your Life

Photo: Johnathan Kaufman / Unsplash
woman putting sunglasses on during golden hour

Life today is stressful and exhausting. With how hard we all must work to make ends meet, balancing it all can feel impossible. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, just over a quarter of Americans report that most days they are so stressed they can’t function, and 34 percent said that stress is completely overwhelming practically every day.

Suffice it to say, we could all use some help saving time, lightening our load, and finding rest in our off hours. Thankfully, the Instagram account @houseofinvestors, which focuses on entrepreneurship and time management, recently compiled a list of five simple changes and additions to your after-work life that can help you do just that.

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Doing these 5 simple things after 7 PM can drastically improve your life:

1. Reflect.

Once your day is done, take a moment to take stock of how the day went and what could be improved. House of Investors recommended asking yourself three questions:

  1. What happened today that I'm grateful for?
  2. Which actions moved me toward my goals?
  3. Are there any changes I can make?

The Instagrammer claimed that these questions help "strike a balance between gratitude and self-improvement."

   

   

More importantly, psychological research has found that reflection can actually aid mental health and stress management, promote a sense of meaning in life, and positively impact our relationships with others.

2. Disconnect.

In other words: Put. The phone. Down.

"Imagine trying to park a car that's going 70 MPH," House of Investors wrote in their post. That, they said, is basically what happens when you keep working until bedtime or replace work with endless scrolling on social media

Most of us have heard that scrolling social media activates the pleasure centers in our brains. But this also has the knock-on effect of triggering our brains' stress responses — the last thing you need after work. Repeat: Put the phone down!

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3. Plan for tomorrow.

"A productive day starts the night before," the Instagrammer wrote. They suggest taking a few moments each evening after work to write down your three biggest to-dos for the following day. That way, you're setting yourself to be more organized, efficient, and productive.

That "massive momentum," as the Instagrammer called it, can also in turn help you stop worrying about everything you have to do tomorrow while you're trying to relax and rejuvenate tonight.

Drastically Improve Your Life By Doing These 5 Things After 7 PMPhoto: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

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4. Breathe.

Get ready to roll your eyes, people who hate being told to meditate. But there's a reason so many people, from productivity gurus to mental health professionals, recommend the practice — neuroscientists say breathing impacts just about every function of the brain. 

It particularly impacts the way the different functions of the brain synchronize and interact with each other, which has a major impact on emotional processing.

   

   

The Instagrammer suggested the popular 4-7-8 breathing technique — breathing in for four seconds, holding it for seven, and releasing it for eight. Among other things, this will stimulate the vagus nerve, which activates the nervous system's relaxation response. Yes, please.

5. Read.

According to the Instagrammer, reading a book is the best way to wind down before bed. That isn't exactly surprising given that science has pretty definitively determined that reading is one of the best ways to relax — far better than TV. 

Reading has been shown to lower stress levels and aid with sleep. But it's also been shown to be protective against the cognitive impacts of diseases like Alzheimer's. So along with putting the phone down, turn off the Netflix and do a bit of reading

Drastically Improve Your Life By Doing These 5 Things After 7 PMPhoto: lithian / Shutterstock

And do it with an actual printed book if you can, not an e-reader or online. Studies have shown that, much like with our phones, the light emitted from e-readers actually decreases melatonin levels, one of the hormones that help us sleep.

Put these five tips into action tonight and you just might have a more productive, less stressful day tomorrow. 

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.