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5 Healthy Ways to Destress After Work

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"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it."
- Sydney J. Harris

Does this scenario sound familiar? 

It's 5:30pm, you just got off work.  "Crap! I have 15 minutes to pick up Billy from soccer practice!"  As you frantically speed across town, you forgot to grab two important files you were working on for your presentation tomorrow. You roll up your windows at the stoplight, and make sure nobody is looking so you can scream at the top of your lungs to let out your frustration.

Walking through the front door, you step on one of Sally's Barbie dolls, slightly spraining your ankle.  After puting down your briefcase and take your first deep breath of the day, you greet your husband or wife and ask "What's for dinner?"  They look back at you confused because they thought you we're taking care of it.  You proceed to argue over the smallest things and it escalates until you are both, too exhausted to argue anymore.  As you lie in bed, unable to sleep from the amount of stress you're feeling, you ask yourself, "how am I ever going to sleep?"  You get a miserable 4hrs of sleep and wake up already defeated by the day.

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Stress is an inevitable part of our lives.  It's how we manage it that's important.  Unchecked stress levels can severely affect your physical, mental, and emotional well being leads to a myriad of problems. 

Here are a few things unchecked stress levels can create in your life:

  • Anxiety and/or Depression
  • Overeating or Undereating
  • Fatigue and Insomnia
  • Reduced Sex Drive
  • Excessive Drug or Alcohol Use
  • Emotional Outbursts
  • Chronic Disease

The list of negative effects that stress has on your body and life goes on and on.  But isn't just one of those negative effects enough to make you want to take action before things get really bad?  Here are 5 simple ways you can melt away stress after a hard day of work.

1.  Exercise

Our bodies are built to run, jump, swim, bend, turn, and simply move.  When we don't do that, all of the emotional and mental buildup that you've created all day, sits inside your body.  If you don't release all of that energy, it will manifest itself in one way or another.   In my opinion, this is the absolute best way to burn off some of the built up frustration and angst from a long day at work.  This is especially true if your work includes sitting for long periods of time.   

I understand that after a long day of work this may be the last thing you feel like doing, but you really don't have to do much.  A quick 20 minute jog in the neighborhood will do wonders for your mood, weight, and overall mental and emotional well being.  If you don't like running, then go do a boxing class, yoga, or even just take a walk by yourself.  Anything is better than nothing.

  • Take Action - Workout for at least 30 minutes and break a sweat doing.

2.  Meditate

Meditation is an incredibly powerful and convenient tool to clear out any negativity or stress.  There are many different types of meditation used for a variety of different reasons.  A 10 minute guided meditation focused on relaxation can do wonders for you if you're wound up from the endless list of tasks and demands boiling inside your head.

There are literally millions of free meditation tools out there.  Youtube has countless, free, guided meditations.  If you need something more convenient there are a lot of great apps for your smartphone.  My favorites are Insight Timer, Headspace, and Spotify.  Just breathe and let it go.  It's not worth holding onto anyways.

  • Take Action - Pick a 10-20 minute guided meditation and listen to it, or just sit in silence and be at peace.

3.  Do Something You Enjoy

Take some time for yourself to enjoy what you're working for.  It's easy to get lost in life and forget why you're working those 60hr workweeks anyways.  Doing something you enjoy can be a wonderful way to relieve stress and also remind you why you're working so hard.  Whether its playing with your pet, spending time reading, strumming on the guitar, or drawing in a sketchpad, make sure you give time to yourself.

If you're always stuck in the mode of "I have to do this then I have to do that," then you forget how good you really have it and how much there is to be thankful for.  A little perspective and gratitude goes a long way.  

  • Take Action - Pick your favorite activity and take some time to enjoy it at the end of your day.

4.  Listen to Some Tunes

"Music calms the savage beast."  Not saying you're a beast.  But unchecked stress levels can certainly activate your inner hulk.  I'm sure you've heard before the calming effects of music have been scientifically proven.  When is the last time you laid back and listened to your favorite song?  You know, that one song that always puts you at ease.  Go listen to "Tiny Dancer" - Elton John and just try to feel stressed out.

  • Take Action - Pull out your favorite album or make a playlist and spend some time relaxing and giving time to yourself.

5.  Write Down Your Thoughts

My personal favorite way to relax is journaling.  Writing down my thoughts is the source of my sanity.  Every day we have literally millions and millions of thoughts that run rampant in our minds, but where do they go?  Writing it out is an amazing outlet for my frustration, anger, sadness, and also my happiness, cherished memories, as well as a great way to organize my thoughts and record any creative insights I have.  Try writing out what goes on in that brilliant brain of yorus instead of keeping it all upstairs.

  • Take Action - Journal for a minimum of 5 minutes.  Let whatever on your mind come out freely and uninhibited.  You might learn a lot about yourself.

What I've said in this article is probably nothing new.  My intention is not to teach you something you don't know, but rather make this a simple reminder that you can take action on in order to create a tangible change and result in your life.  If you pick one of these activities, perform it with intention, and make it a habit, I guarantee it will support you in creating less stress in your life.  Until next time.  Thanks for reading.