How To Relax After Work

I have recently come across a depressing statistic: Stress at work is becoming normal. 75% of people think that their job is way more stressful than it was a decade ago. People have trouble sleeping, and many have called in sick because they were unable to cope with the demands of their job.

It made me feel less alone to know that other people are dealing with this problem as well, but it also worries me.

We encounter stress every day, when we get take-out on the way home, flop down on the couch, watch Netflix, go to bed, and then get up the next morning, feeling almost worse than when we left work the day before. In fact, I sometimes don't even make it to the couch, and consume the video when I'm already in bed, and that's even worse.
But what can we do to relax, and to prevent burn-out in the long run?

Well, there are several options that help with relaxation, but before we turn to them, let us take a look at things you might not think of as relaxing, but which may have a similarly positive effect.

1. Use being an introvert or extrovert to your advantage.

Not every relaxation strategy works the same for everyone.

Are you an introvert? Reading a good book, unplugging your phone, or listening to a podcast can help you turn off the outside world and provide some much needed alone time. If you want to have such alone time among people, consider reading your book in a cafe, or listening to the podcast on a walk. (This is me; I find the atmosphere of people talking, but not to me, and people working, but not on the same thing as me, really relaxing.)

Are you an extrovert instead? You gain energy and happiness from interactions with other people - your best option may be to not even make it to your own couch, but to join a social activity directly after work. You can also invite friends to have a relaxing evening in together, in order to make it more enjoyable for you.

2. Rebuild your energy.

Your schedule is too packed to relax, and you would rather work on some important tasks, but you’re always way too tired when you come home? Your unfinished tasks will keep bugging you until you get to them. Instead of relaxing, you need an energy boost.

If we’re ignoring drugs, such as caffeine, nicotine, or tiny pills, you could try a second-wind-workout. This is a workout in the afternoon, to build up your adrenaline, and set you up for a productive late work session. You could try visiting the gym on your way home, or going for a run when you get back.

Another option is power napping. The point here is not to fall into a deep sleep, but to provide some rest to help you collect strength. However, scrolling through your phone or watching Youtube videos does not constitute napping.

3. Do your chores before they haunt you.

Coming home from work is nice. Coming home from work to discover a mountain of work you have left for yourself is less so.
I myself tend to look at a pile of dishes, and turn away to the couch. When I come home the next day, the pile has grown even larger, and I'm even less inclined to do something about it.

If you have errands to run in town, consider doing them before you arrive at home. Nobody wants to get up again once they’ve sat down on the couch. If you have things to prepare for the next day, consider doing them immediately - or, if possible, do them ahead of time. You could bulk prep all your meals on Sunday, meaning that the task of cooking does not hit you in the middle of the week. You could do the cleaning on Saturday, and just clear your place back to neutral in the evening.
Figure out the tasks that you leave for yourself, and try to minimize them as much as possible. Remember, the less tasks there are, the less likely you are to procrastinate on them.

4. Relax!

Now that you’ve accomplished all your tasks and discovered some free time, here is how you can use it to actually relax.

  • Stretching and Yoga
    These are great methods to not only calm your thoughts, but help your body as well. Plus, you feel like you’ve done a tiny workout, so you can be proud of yourself. On a side note, if you experience pain from your job, or you cannot relieve your aches no matter how hard you try, consider massage sessions.
    (I used to think they were for old people, but I have discovered that they are awesome, and you should definitely give them a try if necessary. Or maybe I just really am old.)
  • Taking a bath and Essential Oils
    Now, I don’t like either of these, but I am TOLD that they are excellent. And considering how you could have a glass of wine with either of them, I would not rule it out.
  • Do something creative This could be cooking, or music, or sewing, or art - whatever enables you to focus on something that is not work, is a plus. Make sure that it is something you already enjoy. Learning a new skill is cool, but cursing at things you can’t yet manage is rarely a great tool for relaxation.
  • Find an outlet.
    Is your stress increased by frustration? Letting things out can be very calming. You can write about your troubles in a journal, connect with a friend to vent - or you could just find a punching bag and go at it. Whatever helps. (I really need to get on to buying that bag.)
  • Comfy clothes
    I know, changing clothes is an effort. But especially in the colder months, changing into an oversized sweater, baggy trousers and woolly socks is guaranteed to make you feel better.
  • Cuddle a pet
    Cats and dogs can be demanding - but petting a floofy animal is also a great way of relaxing. You may substitute a cuddly toy or a partner, if you don’t have a pet yet, but consider getting a cat anyway.
  • Correct your body temperature
    Were you sweaty all day? Prepare a cold drink and have a nice shower. Are you freezing? Make tea, wrap yourself in some blankets, and think about using a heating pillow. Getting your body to a comfortable temperature is essential when trying to make yourself feel better.
  • Indulge yourself You can allow yourself to have nice things from time to time. Be it a new book, a pretty flower, or a nice bottle of Chardonnay - give yourself a present from time to time. Looking forward to it will make the long work day much easier. And if you absolutely cannot relax - indulge yourself with a few days off. Vacation was created for the purpose of a work-life balance for the employee - make sure to use it!
I hope this was helpful to you; I very much enjoyed trying out my own tips. (Except the bath. I hate baths.) My particular favourite has been to work out after work, and to take a power nap. I have gotten way more things done, but I am more relaxed at the same time, which is really the best of both worlds.

Good luck to you, and feel free to share any further relaxation strategies - I love trying out new things.

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