After a stressful day at work, all you want to do is come home, wind down, and plop your feet up on the coffee table with a pint of ice cream and watch a Game of Thrones marathon. While we all admit that there is nothing more heavenly that couch potato-ing your way into a vegetable state, you are truly not doing your body and mind any great service. In fact, most people’s methods for stress-management are doing more harm to their bodies than their stress already is. According to an American Psychological Association survey “about the 45 percent of Americans, deal with stress by retiring to the couch with a glass of wine, a sack of chips, and a pack of cigarettes.” Unfortunately, these aren’t the same folks who are eating fruits and vegetables daily, exercising regularly and getting eight hours of sleep each night either. So what should you be doing to properly wind down and decompress after a hard day at the office?
While hanging out on the couch is relaxing, only do so after you’ve earned it, by increasing your heartrate for about twenty minutes first. Why? Because it will release those feel-good endorphins. If you do zone out in front of the tube, be aware that it lowers your metabolism more than snoozing does. So the best thing you can do is go for a run or take a brisk walk in the park or even around your city’s streets with your iPod. It not only clears your mind of all the stressful thoughts, it keeps your metabolism up and your weight gain down.
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Another great way to think about how to relax after work, as Huff Post advises, is to call or talk to someone you care about. We don’t mean texting; we mean an actual voice-to-voice conversation. If you don’t have someone at home to have a good conversation with other than your kids, call a good friend or a relative. The best thing we can do to release that pent-up tension from the day is sharing it with others or hearing about someone else’s not so peachy perfect day. Chances are you’ll laugh or smile at least once in that exchange and laughter is the best medicine. If there’s no one to call or talk to, write in your journal to purge your thoughts or read for a while to allow your mind to escape somewhere else.
Taking a shower, and we mean a looong one, is another great way to wash your troubles down the drain. There is something about standing beneath warm, steamy water with your favorite scented soap or aromatherapy oils, like lavender, to clear your head and slowly allow your mind to wander on to more positive, ‘I can do it,’ thoughts. It’s a proven stress reliever.
Though most of you will roll your eyes when we suggest you play with your kids to relieve your post work nerves, believe us when we say it will work. The minute you get on the floor with your child, look into those gorgeous big eyes when she hands you the Lego piece you are to assemble, everything else in the world should begin to fade to the sidelines. In fact tickling your little one’s belly and hearing them laugh or having a full-on wrestling match with your child on the bed ,and with pillows, will have you releasing those work toxins in no time. Just be sure to be present in the moment and this bonding time with your child will work wonders for both of you.
Ultimately, if you can’t do any of the above, once the kids are asleep, grab you partner for some de-stressing sex. It not only counts as exercise, relieves pain and anxiety, but during sex your body produces dopamine, a substance that fights stress hormones, endorphins, aka ‘happiness hormones.’ By ending your stressful day with a bang you’ll fall asleep easier and with a smile.