Have you ever had one of those days where you just thought “I can’t do this anymore. I am going to quit. I am going to quit right now.“ ? I know I have. But quitting is the easy part. The hard part is having to live with yourself after you have quit. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of things that are worth quitting. However, you should never quit anything just because you had a “blanket-over-your-head” kind of day. Especially not something you have a passion for and worked hard on.
What you should do instead is unwind. Recharge your batteries and free up your mind. I have talked about the power of “Doing nothing” in an older post if you remember. So if you want to know more about the reasons why doing nothing can boost your productivity, feel free to read it. Today, though, I want to show you HOW to take care of yourself and unwind after a stressful day.
Some of these tasks require only 5, some can even take you up to 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter. If you’re in the rabbit hole it doesn’t help to rush yourself. Take as much time as you need to climb out of it. I swear by every one of these tactics. Let’s see if you can find one that suits you best.
20 ways to unwind after a stressful day
1 Make a cup of tea
This is one of those short tasks. But effective nonetheless. I love tea but in this case, it is not about the beverage itself (gladly replace with coffee etc.). The important thing is that you take a few minutes, go into the kitchen and prepare your beverage. Sometimes a few minutes can be enough to free your mind and refocus.
2 Take a long shower
Hot showers can be one of the most relaxing things. And for me they are also the place where my mind can wander and I can really think about important decisions, world peace and the universe. This is a moment you completely have to yourself without any major distractions. So just be naughty and leave the hot shower on for a little longer than you should. 😉
3 Paint your nails
Also a big relaxer for me. Painting my nails is my form of manual labor (trust me, you wouldn’t want me holding a hammer. Things could happen). It’s a task that does not require thinking and therefore gives your brain a much-needed break.
4 Watch a TV show
Everybody knows, that watching TV shows is pretty much my favorite thing in the world. If we’re being honest we should probably call it an addiction. BUT it is not without merit. Watching TV can help you turn off your brain. It is 45 minutes of losing yourself in the ups and downs of someone else’s life for a change.
I love to use mediation as a 5 to 10-minute break in between stressful tasks. It helps me fully relax in a short amount of time and refresh my energy levels. Personally, I use guided meditation because I still need a voice to concentrate on. However, after time I would love to be able to meditate anywhere and without guidance. We’ll see how it goes.
6 Cook dinner
I do this almost every day after work. Specifically, after a stressful day, it helps me relax and turn my attention to simple tasks like chopping onions or frying a fish. And if the result turns out good, I even have a sense if accomplishment. Win-win 😃
7 Take a nap
I don’t have to keep praising naps to you. But seriously, you should try them. They are the best thing. Always and forever. 😉
8 Write in your journal
Remember the old days where writing in your journal was a must-do before going to sleep? Well, I don’t know about you but I just simply don’t have the time and energy now to do this every day. But once in a while, particularly after a hard day, I like to open up my journal and write about the struggles I had. It helps me to get closure and start fresh the next morning.
9 Read a book
I definitely don’t take enough time to just sit on the couch and enjoy a good book. A few years ago I basically switched to audio books because it gave me the opportunity to listen to a story whilst still being able to do something productive. So in my case it has been more multitasking than relaxing, to be honest. However, after a particularly stressful day last week I found myself on the couch at half past 10 with a book in my hands and the candles burning. Let me tell you, it was the most relaxing half hour of the whole week. I forgot how totally awesome it is to lose yourself fully in a story and be able to turn on your imagination. I am now going to make it a habit of reading more before bed.
10 Draw something
If you haven’t lived under a rock in the last year, you have probably heard about adult coloring books. The need for this seemed strange to me at first. But research has actually proven that coloring can help reduce stress and anxiety. By now, there are numerous coloring books on the market. Some even made it on the Amazon bestsellers list with titles like “Stress Relieving patterns” or “Color me Calm: 100 Coloring Templates for Meditation and Relaxation“.
I will be honest with you, I have not purchased any of these books. What I did do however, is get my old “Kids Mandala” book out of the closet and tried out this tactic. And it worked! Combined with a good audio book, I had an hour of total relaxation all to myself. And I loved it so much that I am now seriously contemplating buying the “real deal”.
11 Do a puzzle
I used to love puzzling as a kid. I could spend hours and hours just putting together the pieces until a beautiful picture arose. Like drawing, puzzling can reduce stress since you are focusing your attention solely on the task in front of you. Sounds great to me 🙂
I’ll admit, not one of my favorite activities. But exercising does help you to relieve stress and clear your mind. To unwind after a stressful day you don’t need to hit the gym for a two-hour workout (don’t let me stop you though). According to the Harvard Medical School, 30-40 minutes of walking can do the trick and relieve stress.
13 Write a list of gratitude
I personally like to do this before bed time. I have a little note on my phone that I renew every once in a while. Especially when I had a crap day or feel like I didn’t accomplish enough, this helps to ground me. It just puts everything into perspective and makes you realize what you do have instead of constantly thinking about the things you don’t. I sleep better after this.
14 Do the dishes
Another “manual labor” task that really helps me to unwind. For me as a productivity addict this is just perfect because it still gives me the feeling of accomplishing something and using my time well, whilst bing able to shut my brain off for a while.
15 Listen to a podcast
I like to combine this tactic with #14 a lot. Listening to a podcast, much as watching a TV show just forces you to think about something else. I feel, especially with having your earphones on, you get the opportunity to not just shut the world off for a while, but also shut up those little voices in your head. Very refreshing.
16 Make a phone call
After a hard day, talking to someone about it and then chit chatting away can be very relaxing. I am a typical girl and can be on the phone for hours. However, if this isn’t you, don’t worry you can use this tactic without spending5 hours a day on the phone. Just call a friend or your mom for 10 to 15 minutes and that can already do the trick.
17 Fold laundry
Folding laundry is probably one of the most boring chores. Again, it is a task where no brain power is needed and that’s what makes it so perfect to unwind after a stressful day.
18 Have a dance party
If you’ve never turned up the volume on the stereo and started dancing like a maniac in the middle of your living room (preferably in your underwear), you are completely missing out. Dancing is one of the best stress reliefs there is. And I don’t care how sophisticated you have to be in your professional life, sometimes you gotta go a little crazy to feel sane. Try it, I dare you!
19 Make a list of things that you love
This task has a similar effect as #13. It’s definitely a feel-good tactic, as you are reminded of everything that is amazing in life. It also helps me put my time management into perspective. After a bad and stressful day, it’s safe to say that you probably didn’t do enough of the things you love. Maybe tomorrow should be used differently.
20 Clean out your wardrobe
There is some truth to the saying that clutter not only fills up your house but also the space in your head. A good sorting out of Shirts and Shorts can be so liberating. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t do this once a week. But every few weeks when I feel like I am drowning in stuff and thoughts, I like to clean out a drawer just to feel organized and make space for something new.
Now I wanna hear from you. What are your favorite ways to unwind after a stressful day? Do you do any of the tasks above or are there other tactics you love doing? Please share and let’s chat in the comments!