Try These Seven Ways to Wind Down After a Long Day

I don’t know about you, but I often find it challenging to de-stress at the end of the day. I care about my work, so I have a hard time shutting off my brain along with my laptop and phone at five or six in the evening. Does this sound familiar to you? Life can throw a lot at you from day to day, whether in your professional life, your family, your social circle—or, let’s face it, all three at once. That’s why knowing how to wind down at the end of the day is so important. Let’s explore some proven techniques for rest and relaxation that will help you calm your body and mind. With a few simple exercises, you’ll feel chilled out and ready for a good night’s sleep.

Why is Resting Important?

Nowadays, we’re constantly encouraged to go, go, go—often to our own detriment. And while it’s great to keep busy, it’s also important to recharge your batteries. That doesn’t mean you’re being lazy! When you leave room in your daily schedule for relaxation and sleep, you’re actually allowing yourself to be more productive tomorrow. Unwinding after work or school and preparing for a night of restful shut-eye can help you maintain your physical and emotional well-being as well as your cognition and memory.

Redefining Rest – Slowing Down to Speed Up! | Bec Heinrich | TEDxFargo

Unfortunately, most of us find it difficult to hop into bed and drift off to dreamland after a long day. That’s why it’s so important to master the ability to self-soothe before bedtime. Aside from muting those texts and emails, let’s look at a few other ways to mellow out before you hit the pillow.

How to Unwind After Work

It’s always been way too easy to take your professional concerns with you when you leave the office. And, in the age of remote work, it can feel almost impossible to walk away from your responsibilities at the end of the day. Check out these easy (and fun) de-stress activities for after work.

Write in a Journal

If you’ve never explored the benefits of keeping a daily journal, now’s a great time to check them out! You might write about your personal and professional goals and track your progress each day. Or you could try gratitude journaling, where you record the things you feel thankful for daily. Writing in a journal can help distance you from the stressful elements in your life and help you to feel more centered.

Writing in a journal can help distance you from stress. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Go for a Brisk Walk

Feeling fried at the end of the day? There’s nothing like some aerobic exercise to help clear your mind. Whenever it gets crazy in my brain, I’ve discovered that taking a 5-10 minute walk allows me to reset, and often times think clearer when I’m done.

Get Lost!

Is there an activity you love so much that you find yourself becoming completely absorbed in it? If so, that’s a great way to stop thinking about your work for a while. Playing an instrument, listening to music, knitting or crocheting, gardening, cooking, reading a book—it’s up to you what you do to chill out. You may want to set a timer on your phone to ensure you don’t use up too much time, though!

woman reading book lying on hammock at home terrace
Read a book to stop thinking about your work for a while. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Wind Down Before Bed: Proven Relaxation Techniques

As bedtime approaches, it’s good to send a message to your body that it’s almost time to call it a day. Here are some ways to wind down before you crawl between the sheets.

Try Aromatherapy

Burning a scented candle or diffusing essential oils, like lavender and ylang-ylang, can help you to feel more ready for bedtime. Try a beautiful aromatherapy diffuser in your bedroom to make it look and smell like your private spa. You can also dilute an essential oil with water in a spray bottle and lightly spritz your sheets and pillowcase.

Relax in the Bath or Shower

There’s nothing like a bubble bath or steamy shower to set you up for a great night’s sleep. Treat yourself to a scented bath bomb, body wash, and whatever makes you feel blissed out. You can use your essential oils in the shower, too—sprinkle a few drops on the floor when heating up the water for a relaxing multisensory experience.

Young man relaxing in bath
Treat yourself to a scented bath bomb. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Meditate or Pray

How you implement this next tip is truly up to you. If you’re religious or spiritual, you might take time to pray, which can help you feel more connected to your faith and more at peace. If you’re not the praying type, you could try mindfulness meditation, simple breathwork, or an easy progressive relaxation exercise. If you need a little help, there are tons of great meditation based apps to guide you.

Turn Off Your Devices

While we’re on the subject of apps and devices, it’s important to minimize your exposure to blue light as you approach your bedtime. Using your phone, computer, or tablet can disturb your sleep cycle and reduce the amount of REM sleep you get. It can also increase your risk of anxiety and depression, especially if you’re prone to doom-scrolling through your social media feeds. Put your alerts on silent, and tuck your phone away in a drawer (or another room) until tomorrow morning.

Is Social Media Hurting Your Mental Health? | Bailey Parnell | TEDxRyersonU

Make Rest Your New Priority

It’s not always easy to convince yourself that you deserve to rest and relax. I, for one, struggle to take breaks from working. I’ve learned over time that it is ideal to work like a Lion, not like a sheep. Work in strong, powerful spurts, and take breaks to recharge. As my Executive Coach once told me, it should be about effectiveness, not productivity and “being busy.” So this evening, clear your schedule and spend some time winding down before you head to bed. You’ll sleep more deeply and peacefully and wake up feeling refreshed and recharged. Taking some “you” time when you’re not on the job can help you return to work feeling centered, energized, and ready to take on the next day as a Lion, and not a sheep.