Tell me this doesn't sound familiar: you come home from work, collapse on a couch, and for some reason you just can't unwind at the end of your day. Instead, you're replaying an exchange with your boss, worrying about something a friend said, or just thinking about all you need to do tomorrow. Your mind is on hyperdrive and you never actually mentally left the office.
This was my life for almost four years. Sure, it wasn't ten years, or 20, but it was enough to make me majorly reevaluate what I wanted in a job, and more importantly, understand the importance of taking care of myself. I found that when you have a stressful day and don't make a concerted effort to unwind and release your anxiety, it's as if you're really working 24/7 — not just the hours you're physically at the office.
I also found I often had trouble falling asleep at night, because my mind was always racing with the day's events, which got my adrenaline pumping even when I was just lying on my back doing nothing. It was a pretty miserable cycle, but it forced me to look into a multitude of different ways to relax and clear my mind — not all of which were what I was expecting. If you're in desperate need of unwinding at the end of the day, but typical techniques, like meditation or journaling, just aren't for you, here are 11 unusual ways to relax.
1. Listen To An ASMR Video
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response — which is basically the relaxing, tingly sensation a lot of people get when they hear relaxing sounds or voices. I discovered ASMR videos designed to trigger this relaxing response on YouTube a couple years ago, and while I admittedly thought it was kind of weird at first, I'm now a little obsessed. They're one of my go-to tools when I just can't fall asleep.
2. Make Faces
According to Dr. Oz in a piece for Prevention, making funny faces and holding them for 15 seconds can actually help relax you. He noted that it helps to release any tension you're holding above the neck.
3. Switch Out Your Lightbulbs
In that same Prevention piece, Manhattan psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona noted that a change in light can also definitely help us relax and enhance our mood. They specifically recommended blue-based light, as opposed to white-based light. I personally love having candles on hand to help make my environment feel super relaxed.
4. Clean & Declutter
According to a study featured in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, clutter can actually have negative effects on our mental health, with women who describe their homes as "cluttered," or "unfinished," generally having higher rates of stress and depression than women who described their living spaces as "restful," and "restorative." So if you're feeling overwhelmed, do a quick cleaning and de-clutter session. Odds are you'll be able to breath a little easier.
5. Get A Head Massager
Spider Head Massager, $13.99, Overstock.com
These are kind of my favorite things ever. Plus, they're incredibly inexpensive. Use one of these on your scalp and feel the tension melt away!
6. Find Your Creative Flow
According to a piece for The Huffington Post, many psychologists talk about "creative flow," which is described as the experience of losing yourself completely in a creative activity. You may have felt it while painting, building something, or even writing an essay for school. Many believe that this is truly when humans are at their happiest. If you're someone whose always gotten a lot of satisfaction out of creative endeavors, think about scheduling some creativity time for yourself nightly.
7. Watch A Guided Relaxation Video
One of the wonders of the internet is that you can find almost anything you want or need — and often for free. And one of these things includes super soothing guided relaxation videos. It might sound kind of hokey, but these can be the difference between being utterly on edge and finally feeling like you're able to breathe.
8. Groom Yourself
OK, this one might also sound kind of weird. But I've always found that taking a hot shower and going through all of the post-shower rituals — brushing my hair, moisturizing, doing my nails, etc, helps me to decompress. There's just something incredibly relaxing about focusing on something relatively mindless.
9. Sniff An Orange
According to another Prevention piece, research has shown that citrus scents have the power to calm our senses. And if you don't want to always keep oranges on hand, think about getting a citrus-scented candle, or a citrus-based essential oil.
10. Keep A Relaxation Tea Handy
According to the CalmClinic.com, a site devoted to holistic approaches to anxiety-reduction, certain teas are a great tool for stress management. They recommended teas like chamomile, lemon, peppermint, kava, and passionflower, but stressed the importance of choosing one without caffeine.
11. Give Yourself A Massage
In the above video, reflexologist Michelle Ebbin shows us how to massage our own feet in order to maximize relaxation and calmness. She noted a good foot massage can even help relieve headaches!
It can be easy to let the stress of the day ruin our nights, but it doesn't have to! If you're feeling weighed down when you get home, try some or all of the above techniques. Odds are you'll at least feel a little better — and isn't that worth it?
Images: Pexels (8)