Your stress response is triggered when you are overwhelmed. Is it time to quit or should you just grin and bear it? Subjecting yourself to too much stress will take a toll on your health.
After a stressful day at work, you deserve some time at home to decompress and relax. Time away from emails, phone calls, and meetings is important to help you focus on your personal life, away from from the stress of your job.
However, many of us struggle with how to unwind after work. We cannot stop thinking of all the pile of tasks pending in the to do list.
Perhaps you didn’t get everything accomplished before you punched the time clock, so now you’re worried about the workload that will be waiting for you when you get there tomorrow. Maybe you forgot to do a task and are worried it can’t wait, so you find yourself working long after you’ve gotten home.
The truth is you may have made a mistake, but there isn’t much you can do about it now that you are away from your job. It’s time to live in the present moment and enjoy the rest of your personal time.
Or, at least, this is how you should start thinking if you really want to leave work where it belongs, at work!
But how do we make that sort of mental separation that lets us relax after work? Firstly, it’s important to find a balance between our two lives.
Even when we are home, we may be tempted to bring some leftover work with us, to answer one last phone call, or be on standby waiting for an email from an important client. This is detrimental to creating a safe space for yourself within your home.
Take a few minutes to read up on a few healthy and easy ways to help you relax and enjoy quality time for yourself after a tough day.
Ways to unwind after a long day at work
When you’re feeling overwhelmed due to work stress in your daily life, it can take a toll on your physical and mental health. We hope you’ll find this article helpful as we share some stress management techniques after a long day at the office.
1. Don’t bring work home with you
No matter if you didn’t finish it, don’t bring it home. If your boss is not paying you overtime, there’s no need to work beyond office hours.
This is important to remember whether you are just starting a job or have been there for years, don’t overwork yourself if you’re not being compensated!
2. Change your clothes
If you have a uniform or work clothes, take them off as soon as you get home from work.
Whether it be a three-piece suit, business casual, or scrubs, don’t spend any more time in those clothes than you have to. This will help you begin to wind down.
Settling into something that fits our style more or just makes us more comfortable can give us a better sense of that separation we are seeking. So, when you get home from work, make sure you take off those threads and instead pop on a pair of PJs or comfortable sweats and look forward to just chill.
3. Turn off your work phone
If you didn’t leave your cell at your job after you have clocked out, try turning it off when you get home.
It will stop you from impulsively wanting to check for messages, and it can also help your eyes with a much-needed rest from looking at screens all day.
4. Don’t answer work emails
Again, the ability to unwind starts with leaving work at the office for when you’re clocked in and physically there.
Don’t keep yourself signed in on your personal cell or your home computer to avoid hearing the all too familiar ding of your inbox and responding to a work email that can wait until tomorrow.
Otherwise, you will just be tempted on opening your emails and who knows, your stress levels may elevate after seeing whatever messages are inside those unread mails.
5. Set boundaries with your boss
Many of these problems arise when we don’t set boundaries with our bosses. Yes, boundaries.
It seems impossible when they are the ones who are employing us and paying us, but it’s a reasonable thing to consider talking about with them.
It can save you some hassle later on when you feel completely burnt out and are three seconds from quitting because they continue to reach out when you’re at home.
“You get what you tolerate.” ― Dr. Henry Cloud
What if I work from home?
It may be a little harder to find that separation and relaxation if you work from home, but it’s not impossible!
One quick way to reduce stress when working from home is to have a designated space where you work. Rather than placing your laptop and files in the living room or dining room, try clearing a space in your house for your “working” desk.
Make sure the space is functional, so you don’t find yourself getting up to leave constantly because you don’t have everything that you need there.
If possible, it’s best to keep your work space in a room of the house that is away from the noise and other distractions. When you visit this space every day, your brain will start to associate it with concentration and focus. Therefore, it’ll help you feel ready to get into work mode once you’re in this space.
Coincidentally, your mind will also associate places that aren’t your desk, your couch, kitchen, bedroom, etc., as places that have other, more relaxing, significance within your house.
Research shows that being in our bed when we are trying to accomplish tasks can make us sleepy. Why? Because our mind has been conditioned to associate the bed with drowsiness and sleep.
It’s important to keep this in mind if you work from home and make sure you have a designated space that’s quiet with plenty of light and has all of the tools to help you feel make you productive.
Ways to relax after work when working from home
Now, back to the more crucial topic at hand! If you struggle to find healthy habits to have a balanced work and home life, here are a few practical tips to help you de stress.
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress after a hard day at work. It may seem counterproductive to get sweaty or exhaust yourself further, but any physical activity is a known stress reliever and mood regulator.
When we move our body and work up a good sweat, our brain releases “feel good” chemicals known as endorphins. These make us feel better and can help us reduce stress that we carry from the workweek.
If you’re looking for a good way to incorporate into your routine, it’s best to start small and work your way up. You can take a walk in the morning and inhale the fresh air. If you don’t drive home from work, you can get off the bus a few blocks before your stop and walk the rest of the way home before you settle down for the night.
It doesn’t have to be a three-mile long run or intense weight lifting to get your heart rate up. Try something fun and different during your leisure time. Try Pilates, play tennis, or go swimming.
If you are raring to get into workout clothes and have the funds, you can get a gym membership and see what they have to offer that works mentally and physically for you and your schedule. They also usually have a steam room to relax your muscles after subjecting them to a rigorous workout.
End the exercise routine with some slow, deep breathing exercises to further relax your body after your workout.
2. Pamper yourself
A spa day after a long week of work can be a great form of self-care. Maybe you’ve been putting it off for a long time. If you’re trying to unwind at home, you can try either of the two relaxation techniques below.
Take a bath
Better if it’s a hot bath or a warm shower.
Submerging yourself in hot water is a popular relaxation technique because it can loosen tension in your body, calm your mind, and help you sleep. Just make sure you do so with caution.
After you get home from work and have completed your chores, play your favorite music and run a warm bath the next time you are looking for an escape from the stress of work.
You can incorporate scents that are known to aid in relaxation, such as lavender, rose, or bergamot. Light a scented candle or try adding essential oils in epsom salts. You can even combine them for more mood enhancement!
Do your skincare routine
Similarly, work can make us skip out on the pampering our skin deserves. Take some time to do a face mask, whether it be a mud, sheet, or peel-off, and gently moisturize and massage your skin.
This routine is also a perfect way to keep bloating at bay and improve skin quality.
3. Read a book
Reading also works as a distraction from our stressors. When we crack open a new book, we are transferred to another place and we can immerse ourselves in a story that helps us forget about our own stress-filled life, even if it’s momentarily!
To free yourself from the worries of the office, try taking some time out of your day to read a book. Spending even 10 minutes a day reading can not only knock a few titles off of your “to-read” list, but that time spent can make you relaxed.
4. Cook dinner
Although cooking may seem like another chore to do once you leave work, for many people it can be one of the best ways to relieve.
Cooking gives us creative freedom and can also provide an outlet and a distraction from the issues that are bothering us.
Chopping can be meditative, as well as stirring or grating. It’s easy to lose yourself in the act of cooking because of the process involved, and the best part is that you’re being productive at the same time!
If you are cooking for your loved ones, it can also be a great occasion to bond. Try using dinner time as a way to relieve yourself of the day’s stress by talking through some of your concerns.
You can also listen to others and take their advice or point of view on how to handle your feelings better when you are stressed.
If you’re not much of a talker, you can turn to journaling your feelings as a form of meditation and self-care. A few minutes is all you need to write down the cares of the day. Putting your thoughts in writing is the best way relieve your anxiety and prevent bottled up emotions from eating you up inside.
You can journal first thing in the morning to set your goals and expectations for the day, or you can journal at night to reflect and have a hard copy of any memories you want to preserve from the day.
6. Relax with music
Music can have a major effect on our mood and mindset.
There’s a reason why they call it a “playlist for life.” It’s because music normally follows us through our day-to-day tasks.
We may associate a song with a person, an event, or an important memory in our life. When that song plays back, we remember how we felt during that moment. It can even conjure up sounds or smells that we associate with certain memories.
The pace of music can also affect our mood, fast-paced beats can make our heart rate increase, and slow beats can make us feel relaxed and free from our worries or any tension we may be carrying at the time.
If you’re looking for a way to relax after work, try listening to your favorite artist or track that makes you feel good or helps you unwind. Whether it’s upbeat hip hop or a ballad, the music will help create an atmosphere that creates good energy after the workday.
7. Spend time with your family and friends
Finally, spending time with your family and friends can also help you cope with stress from work.
It’s important to consider the people who are there to listen and support you when you need to talk about your feelings and any stressful situations you may find yourself in because of work.
When leaning on others, you’re more likely to experience laughter and happiness, and research shows that laughter releases the same sorts of endorphins that exercise does to help with mood and stimulate the brain.
Many of us struggle with finding ways to relax after work. More often than not, we will continue to worry about projects or meetings that happened while we were clocked in after getting home.
It’s vital for your physical and mental well being to find healthy ways to unwind after work. Find some free time in your daily life to incorporate fun activities.
You can try exercising, creating an at-home spa day for yourself, or journaling how you feel to relax.
Remember that it is important to create personal boundaries between your boss, work, and yourself. It’s essential to find balance between your work life and your personal life. Doing so allows you to calm down and get back to fulfilling your needs after a long, stressful day at work.