After a stressful day working and running errands, people can find it hard to wind down and decompress. In the evening and before you sleep, it’s time to take a little bit of a breather and just relax. If you are struggling to come up with healthy ways to be mindful and lower tension, here are a few activities that help many people at the end of the day.
Take a Bath
Throughout your daily tasks, your muscles constrict and tense tighter and tighter in response to stressors. And, of course, your body naturally sweats in order to regulate body temperature. By the end of the day, both of these natural bodily responses leave your muscles tight and sore, and your body feeling a little stiffer and more clammy than you may like. A bath can relieve you of both of these issues—soaking in hot water rinses off that unpleasant sweat, relieves muscle tension, increases blood circulation and lung function, and can even boost serotonin levels in the brain. Add to this some bath salts and your bath can also moisturize your skin, soothe cramps, and soak up some vitamins and minerals that help energy levels.
Tea has been used for centuries as a means of calming the heart and brain. Various ingredients and herbs provide different benefits to your health—some boost your immune system or fight inflammation, some help digestion or promote hydration. The most common purpose or side effect of tea drinking is relaxation. Mint teas are especially popular for their calming effects on the mind, stomach, and muscles. Other teas using leaves from chamomile, rose, and lavender are also commonly chosen for their soothing properties and distinct taste. There are various types of teas to try until you find one (or many!) that help you to calm your body and breathe a little deeper.
Listen to Soothing Music
Music is an effective way to alter your mood and energy levels. Just as you listen to louder, faster beats when you work out to get your heart rate up, you can listen to softer songs with pleasant melodies to get your heart rate down and your mind at ease. Studies have shown that listening to music that you enjoy reduces stress and anxiety levels, provides a feeling of comfort, and even improves your brain function. Therapists recommend calming music as a strategy for soothing an overwhelmed mind. These professionals will usually recommend classical music, songs or sounds of nature, or soft pop music.
Take advantage of the great outdoors from the comfort of your own home. Being outside has a simultaneously grounding and cleansing effect on the mind, as breathing in fresh air and being close to vibrant plant life draws in healthy natural vitamins and minerals. If you don’t have a good space for relaxing in your backyard, consider putting in a deck. A deck is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the outdoors on your property. Decorate it how you want to, add comfortable furniture and plants, and make it an extension of the comfort you find inside! Bring a book or take a nap—simply being outside has a calming effect as you take in the outdoors.
Many people praise the benefits of practicing mindfulness and meditation. Meditation is simple, but incredibly effective in calming and centering a body and spirit. Taking the time to sit in a quiet place and focus solely on your body and surroundings is clinically proven to help stimulate memory, increase dopamine production in the brain, and improve mood all around. This practice encourages a sense of control over one’s own life. If you aren’t sure how to start, explore the hundreds of meditation guides available online or on audio recordings. Trained meditation experts will take you through thoughts and images that clarify your mind and help settle your heart rate.
Go On a Walk
Don’t underestimate the benefits of going on a walk! The act of walking helps your digestion and circulation, as well as strengthens bones and muscles—and a healthy body is a happy body! Walking is low-impact and high reward. However long or brief, moving your body at a controlled and unrushed pace is extremely good for your physical health while offering a little time to ponder, go over your day and make goals, or not think about anything in particular! Plus, if you walk around greenery, you get the added refreshing benefits of nature. Get out, move around a little, enjoy being outside, and breathe deep.
The idea of journaling may intimidate or frustrate you: it can be difficult to feel like putting your thoughts into sensible words, and many find it impossible to do something like journaling with any consistency! However, setting aside a small portion of time every day to just write down feelings, things you are grateful for, track emotions and what triggered them, or any positive experiences of your day is one of the best methods of controlling mood. Furthermore, the more you journal, the better you become at being able to put your thoughts into words, and being able to understand how your own mind works! Journaling is also known to help you stay better motivated towards achieving goals, increasing self-confidence, and reducing stress. Whether you go by a given prompt or just jot down what’s on your mind, journaling is a great strategy for unwinding and taking a personal inventory at the end of each day.
Phone a Friend
If sharing your thoughts with a journal doesn’t sound like your kind of activity, try sharing your thoughts with a trusted friend! Strengthening friendships provides a feeling of belonging and support that is essential in human life and development. Some of the most common causes of anxiety and depression are feelings of isolation or loneliness, a feeling of being misunderstood and unheard. Phoning a friend—the same friend or a different one every day!—wards off that loneliness and isolation. Your closest friends are a positive source of the confidence and energy you need to recharge after a long day.
Working hard is only worth it if you have the presence of mind to enjoy its fruits. Try any or all of these strategies to unwind, relax, and take a break from the stressors of your life so you can better enjoy the best parts. You will improve the quality of your life overall, and be more productive and positive as well!
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