There's no question: work can be stressful. Between juggling work assignments, meeting deadlines, booking appointments and always keeping a positive face (when you're really having a bad day!), it takes a lot out of you to get through the day. Thus, relaxing after a day at work can really help rejuvenate the body and mind and keep you centered and balanced, so that you can be productive the next day ahead.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on squeezing in "me time," as I like to call it. Whether that constitutes as actual alone time or time spent with family or friends, it should be an activity that makes you happy and relaxed and can really add to your quality of life. Clearing work and stress from the mind for a moment to unwind can keep us sane and able to get through a tough work day, as we know that we have something fun and comforting to look forward to in a few hours. Making yourself a priority is so important to staying in great health, and so by fitting in these thirteen ways to de-stress after work, you can feel happier and healthier in the longterm.
1. Prepare A Warm Bath
"Warm baths, especially with Epsom salt, are not only relaxing and therapeutic but can also improve mood," says Tessa Medlock, CEO and founder of Pearl Bath Bombs over email with Bustle. "Stress is known to drain your body of magnesium causing it to become magnesium deficient. When the magnesium in Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin it helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical in our brains, resulting in us feeling calm and relaxed," Medlock continues.
2. Massage Tense Muscles
Whether through bath, massage, or foam rolling practices, giving your body a little love and hand therapy can do wonders for tight, sore muscles, which can result from work stress. These types of tools "help sore and tightened muscles relax by increasing circulation and providing a soothing effect," says Medlock. Do it yourself, or take turns with a partner at home for an extra boost of oxytocin, the intimacy hormone.
3. Use Aromatherapy
Experts suggest that some scents can calm anxiety and boost mood. "Aromatherapy is known to be a relaxing therapy and is a great way to naturally relax your mind and body," says Medlock. "When you add aromatherapy products, such as a Lavender Bath Bomb, you naturally get those benefits, as lavender scent has antidepressant properties and is naturally uplifting and relaxing," she adds. Options including pressing oil on your temples, inhaling it, or consuming in tea form.
4. Watch Something Funny
Experts say that watching a funny clip can make us feel happier and less stressed, which can bust a bad or tense mood from a busy workday. Laughter can be great medicine, and it makes us remember that life doesn't need to be taken so seriously, and we should let go a bit and remember to have some fun. Check out YouTube channels for funny clips or catch up on local comedian's page.
5. Hug Someone
Giving someone a hug can elicit the intimacy hormone, oxytocin, leading us to feel more connected to those around us and more loved and supported, two traits that are much needed after a long, stressful day at the office. If you live with someone, give a hug. If you can't find a friend, or even co-worker once exiting the office, simply hug yourself. Oddly enough, the same hormones will be activated.
6. Give Thanks
While it might seem hard to give thanks to another tedious day at the office, when you really think about it, we are entirely grateful for the opportunities we are given on a daily basis, as they provide purpose and a part in our identities. Doing a gratitude exercise can make us feel happier and more positive, which will relax our senses and bring us back to a tension-free balance.
7. Unleash Your Artistic Side
Studies show that using creativity and art can make us less stressed, which is great for post-work relief. Once work has ended, have some fun with your artistic talents. Doodle, draw in a coloring book, paint, write a poem, sing and dance to high-volume music; whatever it is that makes you feel more spirited and creativity will help ease tension overall.
8. Cook A Healthy Dinner
Consuming a dinner high in sugar, grease, bad fats and processed additives can cause a spike in blood sugar, lead to further cravings, and result in irritability, mood swings, and a subsequent crash a couple hours later. Yet, healthy foods can make us feel less stressed and happier, especially those with serotonin and magnesium. Eat salmon, beans, ancient grains, leafy greens and even dark chocolate, for great benefits.
9. Forgo Happy Hour For A Workout
While happy hours are fun, and the immediate source of alcohol and companionship might provide instant relief, the effects will not last long, and the build up of alcohol can lead to disastrous results if intake is too often, over time. "Exercise can definitely lower post-work day stress due to the positive impact of exercise on serotonin and cortisol levels," says Chicago-based therapist Chelsea Hudson, LCPC, over email with Bustle. Keep some happy hours, but make the majority a workout class or session.
10. Eat Omega-3s
Omega 3's are healthy fatty acids that can promote serotonin, decrease inflammation, quell anxieties and boost mood and wellbeing. Consume a fish oil supplement or eat oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, olives and olive oil, seeds, such as chia, hemp and flaxseed, and nuts, such as walnuts, for rich sources in the diet.
After a long day at the office, a quick (or long!) meditation can ease tension and help the mind rejuvenate in order to be productive for the next day ahead. Centering your thoughts and clearing your mind of stressful ideas, obligations, deadlines and triggers can provide an instant release and allow you to feel rooted in your being and place at that present moment. It is also great before bed, as it can relax the body.
12. Read A Great Book
Reading a great book can help the mind think of other things and be transported to a new world and time. Stepping outside your body, life tasks and work stresses and diving into a stimulating novel, relative to others' lives, senses and duties, can be quite refreshing post-work. It's nice to take on different perspectives and have a break from thinking about everything you need to worry about.
13. Listen To Music On Your Commute
Once your feet leave the office, it's time to unplug and let the mind feel free. Commutes are never fun, and they can usually even lead to more stress, due to traffic, delays, crowds and other unpleasant conditions. Set a playlist with your favorite, relaxing tunes and hit play for the entirety of your commute. Once you reach home, you'll be in a more positive and happy state.
No matter how stressful work can be, it's easy to unwind after a tough day at the office with these simple, happy-boosting tips. Remembering to prioritize yourself and give your body and mind some love is so important for wellbeing and health long-term. Learn to say no to extra obligations that might cause stress, and start taking care of yourself now.
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