It’s that time of day. When the final email is sent. The last team call is over. You’ve closed your computer and are ready to leave work—whether it’s leaving a physical office or disconnecting from your work-from-home office. No matter what time of day it is—5PM or 9PM—everyone could use a little relaxation after work, as brief or long as it may be. The problem most of us have is, understanding what ways to relax versus what are just distractions from our job. Because, yes, there is a difference between the two.
Everyone needs different things to relax. For some, it’s a hot bubble bath and for others, it’s a heavy sweat session at the gym. These sorts of activities are known to release positive inducing chemicals in the brain like endorphins and dopamine, which lower stress levels and reduce cortisol levels—two things that can rise up unexpectedly if your job is particularly stressful. Even those who think of work as eustress- positive stress— or aren’t bothered by their day-to-day jobs still need time to relax and unwind. That disconnection is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance, even if it isn’t necessarily something you think you need or want (the lucky few who feel this way).
So, whichever end of the work-life-happy spectrum you fall on, here are 6 tips you should know that will help you relax after work.
Talk a walk outside
A walk in nature is more important than ever in today’s world. Technology has us connected in ways that even a few short years ago wasn’t an issue. It’s on our computers, our phones, our watches, and it’s in our ears. When you talk a walk outside, wherever you are, you’ll easily be able to distract yourself by nature. Even that piece of nature is merely a tree on a sidewalk. Be present as you take this walk. Listen to the sounds around you, feel the breeze on your skin, and move your eyes to as much greenery as possible. Green is the color most associated with stress reduction, after all.
Exercise for 20 minutes
If you are the type of person who doesn’t work out in the morning, be sure to exercise for at least 20 minutes after work to help you relax after work. This will naturally produce those exercise chemicals of endorphins that make you feel happy. It can be a jog, going to the gym, dancing, or really anything that gets your heart rate up just enough to break a mild sweat and get your body moving. If you’re a regular exerciser, go for an hour or 90 minutes if you want. But anything over the 90-minute mark might be excessive.
Read a book
Books are a great way to fuel your mind and provide a brief escape from your everyday life. If you’re like the predominant population that focuses on a screen for the majority of the day, reading a book will especially help you. Your mind will be forced to focus on the words on each page, which can actually help improve cognitive ability and improve focus. The topic or genre isn’t as important (fiction, non-fiction, autobiography) as the dedication to simply read for a little each time.
Listen to a podcast
Just like a book, podcasts have the ability to transform your mind and help you disconnect from the day. Podcast topics range from murder mystery and fiction to self-help and travel. The topics run the gamut. Plus, podcasts are easy to listen to as you do other things—like workouts or go for a walk, or even if you go for a leisurely drive. Look up your favorites and listen to an episode as a way to relax.
Keep a journal
Journals aren’t just for kids trying to understand their crazy adolescent lives anymore. These days, some of the world's most successful people keep journals as a way to track their lives. They use journals to write down their day-to-day to help understand their progress, their thoughts, and ideas they might have, or even as simply an emotional outlet. To relax after work keeps a journal and just let the stress or spillover of the workday fall onto the pages. It’s both helpful long-term and extremely therapeutic.
Put your feet up, literally
You’ve heard the expression, “Put your feet up after a long day at work.” More closely associated with a bygone era of yesteryear. Well, it turns out that putting your feet up after work, especially if you’re wearing compression socks, actually helps you to unwind and destress. That’s because it recirculates blood flow to the rest of your body, which aids in circulation, tension, and overall stress.
Try these six tips to relax after work, whether altogether or spread throughout the week, and you’ll soon find yourself feeling better about your work day. It’s important to carve out time for yourself, even if you own your own business, as a means to eliminate excess stress from the day to make room for the next one.
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