“I don’t know what to do in the evenings. So I keep working.”
On a recent coaching call, a client struggling with burnout realized they didn’t know what to do with their time and energy at the end of the day. Because of this, they often just kept checking email, reading documents, scanning for industry related news articles, and so on. It left them feeling listless and drained.
A week later, two more clients said nearly the same thing.
“I don’t know what to do in the evenings. So I pour a glass of wine to relax.”
Swap “work” for “wine” or anything else you use to buffer and you’ve got a perfect storm of indulging in behaviors that aren’t aligned with your wellbeing that can leave you exhausted, frustrated, and chronically anxious.
Buffering is something we all do from time to time. Whenever we are using external things to change how we feel –– think eating, drinking, working, shopping, streaming, scrolling, etc. –– we are buffering. This becomes a problem when we habitualize a mindless activity that has a net negative impact on our lives.
If we buffer with work, we are never really off –– draining our energy and losing the motivation we need to be as successful.
If we buffer with alcohol, we never know how we truly feel –– and are left managing the effects of drinking when we didn’t really want to be doing that in the first place.
If we buffer with scrolling, we let our minds consume the lives of others –– leaving us even further away from the life we wish we were creating for ourselves.
It is no surprise that as the pandemic rages on, and our work and personal lives continue to be blurred together, that evening anxiety is also surging.
If you can relate, here’s a game plan for how to manage your evenings, so that you can show up each day as your best self.
Once you have a clear sense of how you feel, and you’re engaging in actions you can take that lead to overall well being in the evening, it’s time to set a clear end to your workday. Decide when you are going to end your day, and stick to it. Just like you would if you were in the office and had a train to catch, a dinner to attend, or a class to join. Working from home is no different. Pick and end time, and be done.
When your day is done, use your list. Trust your ability to know what is aligned with your highest good, even if it doesn’t give you the quick dopamine hit of buffering activities. Your future self will thank you.
Managing your evenings is key to your overall health –– mentally, physically, and emotionally. Here are a few of my quarantine go-to’s in case you see any that you’d like to try.
One more note: If you relate to using alcohol to buffer in the evenings, you may benefit from a new six week course I’m offering to help clients stop overdrinking (especially during the holidays). If you’d like to learn more, please message me.