To say the last year has been stressful is an understatement. From job losses to pay cuts, ill family members to absent friends, there’s not an individual on this earth that hasn’t been severely affected by the pandemic.
People who have never previously suffered with mental health problems like anxiety or depression are suddenly experiencing them for the first time. The uncertainty around not knowing when lockdowns will lift, when you can see loved ones and when coronavirus will finally be under control has been scary. And for the time being, it’s still ongoing.
Working from home has also been a challenge in itself for those who aren’t used to it. If you don’t have a healthy work-life balance, you can find it hard to switch off and feel on-edge whenever you’re not working.
But, it’s important not to let the stresses and strains of pandemic life take over. After all, stress can detrimentally impact your body, your thoughts and feelings and your behaviour. In extreme cases, it can lead to several health conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Had a rough day? Not to worry — here are 10 ways to unwind after work (or in between work periods) to feel happier and healthier every day.
As well as helping you to let out some frustration, exercise releases feel-good endorphins, which serve as instant mood-boosters. According to Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can also:
- Increase your physical fitness level
- Improve your quality of sleep
- Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Increase self-confidence
Ever tried yoga? If not, you should.
Alongside improving strength, balance and flexibility, yoga helps you to control your breathing and can be quite meditative, thus decreasing stress.
2. Have a Bubble Bath
Sure, it sounds straightforward, but soaking in a warm bubble bath can do wonders for your body and mind when you’re feeling a little tapped out.
Just done a workout? Pour a capful of the Elemis Aching Muscle Super Soak (*) into your bath whilst the hot water is running. It soothes overworked, tired and aching muscles and smells amazing.
You could also light some candles around your bath and take some reading material in there with you to leave you feeling calm and carefree.
3. Use Aromatherapy Products
Try a Scentered balm, which is designed to provide an immediate personal sensory experience and transition your mindset as the essential oils absorb into your skin. The Sleep Well Wellbeing Ritual Aromatherapy Balm has a floral lavender blend to help you drift off into a peaceful night’s sleep.
You could also light a Scentered candle to compliment your balm of choice and fill a room with mindful meaning. The De-Stress Home Aromatherapy Candle contains chamomile, neroli and mandarin and specifically targets stress.
The daily practice of meditation has many mental health benefits, including:
- Increased self-awareness and self-esteem
- Improved focus and concentration
- Lower levels of stress and anxiety
All you have to do is find a quiet spot, sit or lay in a comfortable position and focus on taking deep breaths in and out. If you find that your thoughts are wandering, acknowledge them, but always turn your attention back to your breath.
Struggling? Put on some calming background music (like the kind you’d find in a spa) or search “guided meditation for beginners” on YouTube.
5. Read a Book in Peace
One of the most simple ways to unwind after work? Pick up your favourite book.
By getting your mind to focus on something else, reading can effectively clear your head if your brain is feeling foggy.
And, doing it right before bedtime can tire out your eyes so that you fall into a deep, restful slumber faster. Result.
6. Do Some Journaling
Research shows that journaling can help you to shift from a negative mindset into a more positive one and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
How? Well, by:
- Helping you to process traumatic events
- Making you more aware and self-aware
- Helping you to detect unhealthy thought and behaviour patterns
- Allowing you to take control over your life by putting things into perspective
- Improving your memory
Grab a cute notebook, go somewhere that you won’t be disturbed, put your pen to paper and simply write whatever comes to mind.
7. Have Sex
Let’s be honest, one of the most fun ways to unwind after work is by having sex.
Classed as a form of exercise, sex allows you to let out frustration, relieve tension in your body and improve your sleep just like a workout can.
According to WebMD, touching and hugging can release your body’s natural “feel-good hormone.” It can also boost your self-esteem and happiness, thus eliminating stress.
8. Give Yourself a Facial
We all deserve a bit of a pamper every now and then, and what better way to pamper yourself than giving yourself a facial?
You can do this by:
- Cleansing your face
- Using a facial steamer to open up your pores
- Performing your own blackhead extraction using clean fingers and a tissue or pore strips
- Applying a hydrating face mask
- Grooming yourself
Don’t just stop there. Bring the spa environment to you by wearing a fluffy bathrobe, lighting candles and putting on soothing music. Self-care wins!
9. Do What You Love
Another of the most simplistic ways to unwind after work is to do something you love.
Whether it’s painting, playing with a pet, baking or just chilling with Netflix, reward yourself for all your hard work with your favourite pastimes.
Every moment you’re not working is an opportunity to spark joy and de-stress before the next day. Embrace it.
10. Go to Bed Early
Lastly, there are some days where you just can’t seem to shake the stress no matter how hard you try.
In this case, go to sleep. If it’s the middle of the day, the rest of the day might feel more manageable after a nap. If it’s the end of the day, you’re likely to wake up with a fresh perspective — and in a better mood.
Either way, getting a decent amount of sleep every night is key to keeping your stress levels down. The NHS claims that most adults need between six and nine hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.
Maximising the Ways to Unwind After Work
Once you try the different ways to unwind after work, you’ll find the things that work for you. (And nobody’s saying that you have to stick with just one or two!)
Above all, remember that we’re living in unusual times right now. Give yourself a break and realise that you’re naturally going to feel more stressed than during pre-pandemic life. It’s okay not to be okay, but you will be okay again. We promise.
Katie Davies is the Yorkshire-based freelance writer who founded Trendy Tourist. Since 2017, she has written for over 100 companies on a range of subjects, from fashion to marketing. When she’s not producing content, you can find her shopping, exploring a new place or sitting somewhere having a cup of builder’s tea.