I've written before about the dangers of stress and burnout and how you can reduce stress by thinking of yourself as more than your work. But making a switch in your mindset isn't a smooth process. Even if you intellectually understand a mindset change to be good for you, it'll feel forced at first. It takes time for new beliefs to settle in. You fake it until it becomes real.
As such, this blog post offers 7 + 1 practical and immediately applicable tips to help you relax after work. Not all of these will work for everyone, but they're all worth trying out.
A relaxing evening is essential for stress management and a healthy lifestyle. The first step towards relaxing after a day of work, stressful or not, is to be intentional about it.
If you don't tell yourself that now's the time to relax and quiet down, your mind is likely to keep on racing after the workday. Make a conscious effort to move your thoughts away from work.
In combination with being intentional about relaxing after work, it might be worth scheduling in downtime in your calendar.
Map out a few hours every evening where you have no obligations and where you can do whatever relaxes you. The physical indication of downtime on your calendar is another trigger to your brain that it can move away from work.
Science explains why it's a good idea to take a warm shower or bath to relax in the evening. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for the rest-and-digest response that occurs in our body when we're at rest, and it relaxes the muscles. Perfect for a relaxing evening and a good night's sleep.
The benefits of regular exercise cannot be understated. Firstly, exercise after work is another indication for your mind that work is over. Secondly, exercise releases endorphins that will make you feel happier and more energetic in the long run, while also exhausting you enough for a relaxing evening.
Depending on your line of work and your natural inclination, choosing a team sport as your exercise after work might be a good idea, as it adds a fulfilling social element to exercise.
This one is particularly important for people who work remotely and stay at home most of the time (example: yours truly). Changing scenery can provide a much-needed breath of fresh air. Get out of the house and immerse yourself in a new environment. A walk in nature is a good idea.
Talking about immersing yourself into a new environment: reading a book is a great way to unwind after work. Slipping into someone else's mind is a great way of escaping your own. You might become a better person for it as well, as science suggests that reading fiction makes you more empathetic.
Figuring out your tasks for tomorrow shouldn't take up much time, but can drastically reduce your stress level. Write down the top three tasks you want to complete tomorrow and prepare for them so you can jump right in when you start them.
For example, I decide in the evening which clothes I'll wear tomorrow, so the next morning I can wake up, shower, and put my clothes on without having to think about it. It might seem like a small thing, but many of these small preparations can reduce stress in the evening and make for a great tomorrow.
I label this as a +1 because sleep isn't so much a way to unwind after work as much as it is the ultimate way to relax. I've written before about how sleep is a superpower. Having a qualitative night of sleep is good for your health and will make more productive, energized, and motivated. It cannot be an afterthought.
Hopefully, the above tips will lower your stress level during the evening. How do you unwind after work? Let me know in the comments below!