How to Hack Your 5-9:How to Make Monday-Friday Nights Fun

Hustle culture is dead. We are tired. No more working after hours. No more overtime. And honestly, no more defining your life and your self-worth by your job. Take your company out of your Instagram bio, bestie. You can have a life and be a person outside the hours of 9-5. No, really, it’s possible.

But what if all this sounds purely aspirational? What if you exert so much energy during your working hours that you just want to flop onto the nearest flat surface and veg out the second it’s quitting time? Trust me; I’ve been there.

But real, restorative rest doesn’t happen while binging on Hulu or reality TV. Hard truth: clicking out of your work tabs and immediately onto your TV tabs on your laptop is not a life. It’s not even as relaxing as you’re probably telling yourself it is.

Sure, it can feel good to turn off your brain and melt into your couch after work, but too much screen time can end up making you even more drained.

Even if you like your job — even if you genuinely love your job — you can, and should, be a person outside of it. It doesn’t have to be your life. And enriching the other facets of your personhood can help you be more inspired, energized, and creative during work hours.

Dr. Ramlakhan, a sleep therapist and author of Fast Asleep, Wide Awake, told InStyle, “Although technology allows us to stay connected with friends and families, the constant screen time can end up draining our energy. Plus, too much blue light exposure from screens can mess up our circadian rhythm, confusing our bodies into thinking it's daytime long after the sun has set.”

So, your circadian rhythms are shot. Blue light is giving you wrinkles, ruining your eyesight, and sabotaging your attempts to wind down. But don’t think blue light glasses are the answer (although I do recommend these ones from Vooglam, a la Carrie Bradshaw). Your post-work habits still need an upgrade.

When you’ve spent all day working, your decision-making facilities are shot. You want to turn your brain off. You don’t want to think about what’s best for you — you don’t want to think at all. So you self-soothe, doing whatever feels good at the moment as a form of “self-care.”

But this can make you feel even more like a zombie as you fill your days with mindless habits. And as the weather gets colder, the impulse to hermit up and disappear until spring is upon us all. But there are still fun ways to break up the days, even in the fall-winter seasons.

Don’t get stuck in the mindless slog, watching your days turn to weeks, months, and years of the same tired routine. Sure, you might get your stagnant energy out during the weekends and reconnect with your friends, your body, and your sense of self. But why wait until the weekend?

By filling your weekdays with more excitement, you can live a more intentional life You don’t have to go crazy, spend a lot of money, or even push back your bedtime to incorporate more fun into your weekdays. It can be the little things that can make all the difference.

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Go see a weekday movie

Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

Skip the weekend rush and go see a movie in the almost-empty theaters on weekdays. No lines for snacks, prime seat selection, and a quiet theater — what’s not to love about weekday movies? Some theaters even have discounted tickets for certain days of the week. Check Fandango for what’s screening in your area.

Or, make your at-home movie night more exciting

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If there’s a movie you’re dying to stream (Don’t Worry Darling finally made its way onto HBO) or an older film you want to finally see (I’m the last person to watch Interstellar, but it’s currently streaming on Paramount+), make your home movie nights more exciting.

‘Tis the season for those giant holiday tins of popcorn. Grab a giant, indulgent mix of flavors from The Popcorn Factory, pull up a weighted blanket, and even invest in a projector to add some excitement to your night. This is also the perfect way to indulge in holiday movies. My pick is definitely The Happiest Season on Hulu.

Have a Self Care Night

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This is my favorite way to get back into my body. Yes, I have a dedicated morning and nighttime skincare routine. But even those have become a mindless routine at this point. So on nights that I feel extra stressed, I try to indulge in some more elaborate self-care practices to help my body and mind relax.

Here is my routine:

Ease my sore muscles with my Theragun: Even if I haven’t been on my workout grind, my shoulders get tense, and my legs are in need of some love. This muscle-relaxing tool helps me work out my sore muscles better than a pro massage. There’s a mini version for more focused treatment, too! One of the best purchases I made all year.

Work out my facial muscles with my NuFace: I try to use my NuFace every day to get the best results. But a few times a week I really up my game and use it for longer, being more intentional about working out my still facial muscles.

Take a bath: I love a good bath. My holy grail products include:

Take an evening workout class

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I’ll be the first to admit that my yoga mat is languishing in the corner of my living room. It’s been a while since I logged on to do those at-home yoga classes I started in the early days of the pandemic. Warmer weather leads to hot girl walks with friends, but this fall, I’m making it my goal to make it to the studio to take some classes at least once a week. Going after work gives me something energizing to look forward to — especially if I go with friends.

Try a free trial of ClassPass to see what workouts are available in your area — my favorite class is P.Volve.

Learn something new

Photo by Trent Erwin on Unsplash

One way to get excited about your days is to indulge in a hobby. Find something you’re passionate about, and insert into your daily life. You can also learn something new or develop a skill you’ve always wanted to try. I recently invested in a Masterclass subscription to start learning and developing new skills. Your brain will thank you.

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