We all want to relax after work, but getting out of the stressful work mode isn’t always easy. Unwinding in the evening is important to your overall health because it alleviates stress and helps you sleep better at night. The key is figuring out which activities help you leave work mode at the office and fully relax.
Take a Hot Shower or Bath
Bubble baths are like the ultimate relaxation experience — and for good reason. Hot water literally eases stress because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us feel tired. Taking a hot bath or shower before bed every night is a wonderful practice for relaxing your muscles and switching your brain to sleep mode. It provides relief from respiratory symptoms, which is an added bonus if you’re coming down with a cold or suffering from allergies.
Learning to control your breathing allows you to manage stress both on and off the job. Meditation, yoga, and tai chi harness the healing powers of breath to reduce anxiety and transform your mindset. All you need is a few minutes of stillness at the end of the workday. If you can’t find a quiet moment at home, meditate for five to 10 minutes before you leave the office or when you get in your car. If you commute via a bus or train, try a short meditation en route.
Sit up straight in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take deep breaths, breathing through your nose and exhaling audibly through your mouth. With each exhalation, imagine all stress and worry leaving your body. Play a guided meditation video if you need additional help.
Read a Book
Even if you have a hard time quieting your mind, reading a book can distract you from work-related worries by immersing yourself in an engaging story. In fact, reading fiction is more effective at reducing stress than sipping tea, listening to music, or taking a walk. Book readers may even live longer than nonreaders, according to some reports.
As revealed by research performed at the University of Sussex in England, reading improves brain function, enhances empathy, and allows your muscles to relax. After only six minutes of reading during the study, stress levels declined by 68 percent. The next time you’re feeling anxious and can’t get your mind off work, reach for a book.
Play a Video Game
Most gamers report that playing games is an effective form of stress relief. While research has yet to back up these claims, the relaxing effects of gaming are undeniable. The key is to play something you enjoy that frees your mind from work-related worries.
Even violent video games and online video slots can alleviate stress. While it’s true that these types of games can trigger a slight stress response, especially for competitive players, gaming decreases stress overall and provides a positive social experience. One study, in particular, showed participants’ levels of work-related fatigue were positively impacted by gaming — so game on.
Play With Your Pet
Pets can quickly help you forget the pressures of work. Many studies have indicated that pets are powerful forms of stress relief because they reduce harmful stress hormones, lower blood pressure, and elevate the beneficial oxytocin hormone.
Can’t have a furry pet in your apartment? No worries. Even watching fish swim around in an aquarium can be more relaxing than meditation. As long as you have some type of pet to care for, you’re more likely to unwind after a long day at work.
Learning to unwind after a hard day isn’t always easy. Once you find an activity that helps distract your mind and relax your muscles, you can approach each new day feeling rested and rejuvenated.