Screaming bosses. Nagging coworkers who don't pull their weight. Frantic clients. And let's not even get started talking about your commute home. All of the things in a typical workday can be more than enough to send your stress levels through the roof.
Unfortunately, many people feel like they don't know how to relax after work. When you find it hard to unplug from work mode after a long day at the office or you immediately start focusing on your at-home to-do list, every day can become a stressful day.
All that stress can have a significant impact on your health and personal life and even make it harder for you to fall asleep at night.
If you start to hyperventilate as you worry about what work holds for you tomorrow, don't worry. In this post, we'll take a dive into some tried and true stress relief methods for turning your free time into relaxation time.
Why Is It So Important to De-Stress?
Stress is a part of life. In fact, research shows that moderate levels of short-term stress can improve cognitive function and boost your immune system. Triggering your body's "fight or flight" response actually temporarily sharpens your thinking and bodily responses as you respond to something that your body perceives as a threat.
A big part of the problem is when work-related stress doesn't end after the work day ends. This can be especially true after a hard day at work when your boss yelled at you or when you have a major project looming. Such events can make it all too easy to bring work home with you.
Ongoing stress from work can obviously disrupt your work-life balance. When you're still stewing over what you'll need to do in the office tomorrow, it's hard to focus on your loved ones. If you don't take time to relax, you may find yourself in a state of perpetual stress and anxiety, which can rapidly lead to burnout.
Not only will this cause you to perform worse at your job, but it can even affect your overall health and well-being, putting you at greater risk of conditions like heart disease.
If all that sounds bleak enough you never want to face another day of work in your life, don't fret. Research has found that employees who take time to relax after work reduced their stress levels and were better able to break out of a cycle of negative thoughts. This not only reduced their risk for insomnia, but it also reduced fatigue, blood pressure, and risk for other cardiovascular diseases.
How to Relax After Work Like a Champ: 6 Tips
Maybe the work week has gotten so stressful that you almost feel like you don't know how to relax after work anymore. All you want to do is heat up a microwave dinner and collapse into bed.
While going to bed at a timely hour is definitely an important part of relaxing after work, you can use several relaxation techniques to wind down and take the stress away after punching out from your 9 to 5.
1. Listen to a Podcast
This is one you can start on your commute home! Finding a way to unwind is key to relaxing after work. There are countless podcasts available online, covering topics ranging from mindfulness and inspiration to true crime and sports. Whatever interests you have, chances are, there's a podcast that can provide entertainment and insight.
Even if you're working from home, listening to a podcast can be a great way to de-stress while you are making dinner or getting ready for bed. Studies show how listening to narrative stories stimulates the brain in a way that can relieve stress. If you need some extra help relaxing, try a meditation or self-care podcast.
Exercise has long been known as a great stress management technique, all thanks to those wonderful hormones we call endorphins. Your body releases endorphins when you exercise to reduce pain perception. However, endorphins also trigger a positive, happy feeling. Whether you prefer pilates, jogging, or weightlifting, exercise can help you feel better and forget about the work day.
3. Go Outside
There is something powerful about getting some fresh air. Studies show that spending time outside reduces muscle tension, blood pressure, and levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). Spending time in nature also boosts your body's endorphins and dopamine levels, further reducing your stress. So, go for a walk when you get home. Even a 15-minute walk around the block can make a difference.
4. Wrap Yourself in a Weighted Blanket
Few things are more comforting than wrapping yourself up in a snug blanket. A weighted throw blanket accentuates this comforting feeling even further thanks to the use of deep touch pressure therapy.
This creates a soothing sensation that feels like a gentle hug. It helps reduce cortisol levels and is the perfect accompaniment to other relaxing activities like reading a book or watching a comedy (skip the thrillers) on Netflix. Just don’t watch your favorite show too close to bed, as the screen time could actually make it harder to fall asleep (more on that later).
5. Try Deep Breathing Exercises
"Take a deep breath — you got this" is a popular meme for a reason. Deep breathing exercises actually send a signal to your brain that it is time to relax. This in turn nudges your brain to tell the rest of your body to calm down. As a result, deep breathing exercises help you slow down your heart rate and breathing rate.
For example, belly breathing is a simple routine in which you breathe in slowly through your nose while keeping one hand on your stomach. Then, you breathe out through pursed lips. Repeat this process 3 to 10 times for a quick and easy way to relax, especially if you don't have time for a full meditation routine.
6. Be Careful With Social Media
Some people decompress by scrolling through their Instagram feeds. There's nothing wrong with that! But if you're not careful, social media use could actually add to your stress after work. Social media can induce feelings of constant connectivity, particularly if you are linked to your coworkers online. This can further blur the lines between home and work, making it harder to truly disconnect and feel like you're taking a break.
Notably, too much screen time has been linked to increased anxiety and depression in children. The visual stimulation and inability to “take a break” can be just as problematic for adults.
In addition, exposure to blue light from your smartphone screen could make it harder to fall asleep at night, as blue light suppresses your body’s melatonin production. Take a moment to consider how you're using social media. If you regularly see work-related content that stresses you out (like a complaining coworker or getting a message from your boss), consider adjusting who you follow. Either way, be sure to avoid using your phone in the hours before bedtime.
Let a Weighted Blanket Help You Relax
A weighted blanket is great for helping you sleep well at night — but it could also be just what you need to get relief from the stressors of the work day. When you add a weighted throw to your after-work routine, it’s easier to feel calm and peaceful so you can enjoy your time away from your desk.
Best of all, by reducing stress and anxiety in the hours before bed, you'll be able to fall asleep faster rather than lie awake worrying about the next day. You'll feel more rested and refreshed when you wake up — a surefire way to improve your overall wellness and how you feel at work and at home.We want you to have less to worry about outside of work. That's why all Hush Blankets are backed by a 100-night trial. If you don't enjoy using your blanket during these first 100 nights, we'll give you a full refund. We’re confident that our weighted blankets will help you rediscover how to relax after work so you can re-energize and enjoy life.