How To Unwind After Work: Effective And Proven Strategies To Relax

After a long day at work, we deserve some time at home to decompress and relax. Time away from emails, phone calls, and meetings is important to help you feel better from the stress of your job.

However, many of us struggle with how to unwind after work.

Perhaps you didn’t get everything accomplished before you punched the time clock, so now you’re worried about the workload that will be awaiting 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.

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.

Here are a few tips on how to separate work mode and home mode:

Ways to unwind after a long day in 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 off the clock.

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!

Related: Differences Between Stress and Anxiety: Symptoms, Treatments and Relief

2. Change your clothes

If you have a uniform or office clothes, take them off as soon as you get home from the office. 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 a long day, make sure you take off those threads and instead pop on a pair of PJs or comfortable sweats to relax in.

ways to relax with self care

3. Turn off your work cell

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.

Related: What is Self-Destructive Behavior? Practical Ways to Beat it for Good

4. Don’t answer work emails

Again, the ability to unwind starts with leaving everything related to work 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 message that can wait until tomorrow.

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

Related: How to Stop Ruminating: What Causes it and Effective Ways to Combat it

What if I work from home?

It might be a little harder to find that separation and relaxation if you work from home, but it’s not impossible!

One quick way to free yourself from the stress of 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 you’ll get more work done.

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 brain has connected the bed with drowsiness and sleep after so many nights and years of conditioning!

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 make you productive.

Ways to relax after work when working from home

Now, back to the more important topic at hand! If you struggle to find ways to relax after work, here are a few tips to get yourself to unwind:

1. Exercise

Exercise is a great way to destress after a hard day at work. It may seem counterproductive to get sweaty or exhaust yourself further, but exercise 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 unwind some of the stress we carry from the workweek.

If you’re looking for a good way to incorporate exercise into your routine, it’s best to start small and work your way up. You can take a walk in the morning or evening to get used to it and then go from there.

It doesn’t have to be a three-mile run or intense weight lifting to get your heart rate up. Try something fun and different, such as swimming, pilates or racquetball, and see what works mentally and physically for you and your schedule.

Related: What is Wrong With Me? How to Instantly Feel Better About Yourself

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, test out some of these wonderful ways to slip into rest and relaxation.

Take a bath

Submerging yourself in warm water can loosen tension in your body, calm your mind, and help you sleep.

After you get home from work and have completed any chores or cooking, try running 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. Try adding essential oils or bath salts with these scents. You can even combine them for more mood enhancement!

Related: Self-Care Sunday: 28 Best Tips for Focusing on Yourself

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 time spent can help debloat your face and improve skin quality.

Related: How to Feel Better Instantly and Care for Yourself: 7 Key Strategies

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, into another story 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.

Related: 8 Essential Ways to Think Outside the Box and Push Yourself

4. Cook dinner

Although cooking may seem like another chore to do once you leave work, for many people it can be a stress reliever, as well.

Cooking gives us creative freedom and can also provide an outlet and a distraction from the things 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, and the best part is that you’re being productive at the same time!

If you are cooking for your family, 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 the things that might be bothering you.

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.

5. Journal

If you’re not much of a talker, you can turn to journaling your feelings as a form of meditation and self-care.

You can journal 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.

Related: What Does it Mean to Be Your Authentic Self? How to Live Authentically

How to unwind after work

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 might 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 might 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.

Related: How to Live for Yourself Instead of Others: 13 Practical Steps

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 might 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.

Related: How to Forgive Yourself: It’s Importance, Benefits of Self-Forgiveness

Takeaway

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 important for your mental health and your body to find ways to unwind after work. 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 pertinent to find balance within your schedule that allows you to calm down and get back to fulfilling your needs after a long, hard workday.

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