When you've had a rough day at work, it's hard not to let that edgy, exhausted feeling ruin the rest of your evening. But if you don't find a way to recover from that stress, it will rob you of your leisure time, impact your relationships, ruin your eating habits and disrupt your sleep. Finding a way to de-stress at the end of each day is vital if you want to enjoy your life away from the office. Here are several options that might serve you well.
Image via Flickr by Spirit-Fire
Does meditation really work? Researchers from Johns Hopkins University recently sorted through nearly 19,000 meditation studies and found 47 trials that met their criteria for "well-designed studies." They published their findings in JAMA Internal Medicine, concluding that mindfulness meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain. Even a few minutes of mindfulness meditation at the end of your workday can help you shift gears and welcome the rest of your day.
ColoringAdult coloring books are experiencing a popularity surge at the moment. Coloring is meditative, creative, and nostalgic all at the same time, and there's something wonderfully satisfying about transforming a line drawing into a colorful work of art. If you have a smartphone with a large, high-resolution display, such as the Galaxy S7, with its 5.1-inch Super AMOLED screen, download a free coloring app and you'll be able to take coloring breaks wherever you are.
JournalingIf your workdays are stressful because of serious problems with your boss or co-workers, it may be difficult to escape into meditation or soothe yourself by coloring mandalas. If that's the case, you may want to process each day's events in a journal after work. This approach works best if you can journal before you even leave the office, either at your desk or sitting in your car in the parking garage. Limit your writing time to between five and 10 minutes, or set a goal of filling three pages if that's easier. Once you've written about the day, drive home with some music on and try to let it go until tomorrow.
Not only will your journal give you a chance to express your emotions, it will also help you think through your options and will act as a record of exactly what happened and when.
Create Some SpaceGive yourself a break of 20 or 30 minutes after work to ease into your at-home personality. Turn your phone off completely (this is a good time to put it on the charger) and don't turn on the TV. Listen to music. Make tea. Do yoga. Read. Create some rituals around whatever relaxes you and helps your soul feel nourished. This may sound impossible if you don't live alone, but if you explain to your family that you need time to get in a better mood after work, they'll get used to the idea. Make a point of greeting your partner and/or children with eye contact and hugs before you disappear for a few minutes, so they'll feel validated. They'll quickly learn that the rest of the evening is more fun for everyone if they give you the time and space you need.
ExerciseExercise helps burn off feelings of anger and stress that accumulate during the day. A 10-minute walk after work is enough to make you feel rejuvenated, especially if you can walk in a natural setting. If you have access to a wooded area, take advantage of the Japanese concept of "forest bathing." Forest bathers spend time under a forest canopy to improve their overall sense of well-being, lower stress, and boost their mood and ability to focus.
HydrotherapyMany people swear by the power of water to relieve stress. Some unwind under a long hot shower, some soak their feet, and others take a bath. Add some lavender scent or Epsom salts to the water to enhance the relaxation factor. If you are lucky enough to have access to a swimming pool or hot tub, see if that works for you.
You may not be able to avoid stress in your job, but you don't have to let workday stress destroy your personal time. Use these techniques to leave stress behind and enjoy your life away from the office.