It goes without saying that we are living in stressful times. After a long day of personal, professional, and social stresses, learning how to relax your mind and body is essential for a healthy and happy life. If you don't know how to relax after work, here are 5 ways to reduce stress.
Go for a walk
Going for a walk is an easy and effective way to reduce stress. A walk can do wonders for your mindset. An after-work walk can give you some physical and mental distance from the stresses of the day, expand your perspective and loosen tense muscles. A good walk, especially in nature, can lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), increase the production of melatonin and 'feel good' endorphins, and improve sleep. It also encourages you to breathe more deeply and creates the mental space to think clearly. Be sure to set your phone to silent.
Listen to music
When you feel like you simply don't have the time or energy for a walk, listening to music is one of those relaxing activities that takes almost no effort and can be a powerful and enjoyable way to manage stress. If you're at home or in your car, singing (or shouting) along with the song can be an effective way to release tension. Listening to calming music before bed can help you get a better night's sleep and good sleep habits are essential to our well-being. Try engaging in relaxing activities before bed and turn off any and all screens at least an hour before you go to sleep.
Learn a new skill
Learning new skills and taking up a hobby is great for your brain and for your stress levels. Find something you love to do and learn how to do it better. Keep at it, take pride in it, but don't let it become an obsession that consumes all your time and, ironically, begins to increase your stress levels. Maybe it is something that you used to love to do, like dancing, cooking or photography. Maybe it is something you've always wanted to try, like learning a new language, painting, or juggling.
The benefits of meditation are well documented and include gaining perspective on stressful situations and cultivating skills to manage your stress. If you find it too difficult to sit still, breathe and focus on the present, knitting offers many of the same benefits as meditation. It can be a great training ground for meditation practice – and you'll have a new scarf in no time! As far as relaxing activities to do at home go, knitting is hard to beat.
Connect socially (even if it's virtual)
There is a lot of talk these days about social distancing when what we really need is physical distancing. Human beings are social animals and we are not meant to live in isolation. Thankfully, the technology to connect socially while remaining physically distanced is literally in the palm of our hand. Facetime with a friend, Skype with your family or have a Zoom happy hour. The pandemic will end. Our need to connect with one another never will.