By: Nicole Axworthy

No matter your job, you’re bound to experience days that are stressful. Between juggling work deadlines and life’s everyday do-to lists, it can take a lot of energy and determination to get through. That’s why prioritizing time to relax after a long day at work is so important. Not only can it help add to your quality of life, but it can also rejuvenate your mind and body so that you’re ready to tackle tomorrow with your head held high, instead of burning out. For your long-term wellbeing and overall health, use these eight strategies to unwind after a long day. 

1. Listen to soothing music

When the end of the workday rolls around, allow yourself to leave work at the office. One way to unplug from job stress is to listen to music with a slower tempo on your commute home. Set a playlist with your favorite relaxing tunes (leave the hard rock and hip hop for another day). Alternatively, download a soothing self-help audiobook or a low-key podcast. Don’t take off your headphones for the entirety of the commute. You should be in a better mood by the time you reach home.

2. Create a serene space in your home 

We spend so much of our non-working hours at home, so it’s important to create a home environment that soothes your stress rather than adds to it. Depending on who lives with you and what kind of stresses are waiting for you at home, this may be easier said than done. Consider creating a designated space in your home where you can unwind and relax, and include items that help you do that—an easel and paints if creating art soothes you, a record player or instruments if you enjoy music, or a yoga mat if that’s your go-to stress reliever. The space should be one that allows any stresses to melt away as soon as you walk in the door. 

Painting by Tamsin Smith

3. Treat yourself to what you need

If you can only do one stress-relieving thing after a long day, make sure it’s just for you. Take a bath, read a chapter of a book, get a massage or manicure, or indulge in your favorite television show. Do whatever makes you feel happy and calm. The goal is to take a proactive approach to manage outside stressors and find something that helps you relax at that moment. Most importantly, allow yourself to say no to extra obligations that might cause you more stress so you can focus on taking care of yourself. 

4. Get some exercise

Exercise has proven benefits, including relieving stress and increasing work productivity. To destress after work, go for a walk, run, or swim; do yoga, or engage in whatever physical activity you enjoy that boosts your heart rate and gets you sweating. If you don’t have the time or energy, even a simple 10-minute walk through a neighborhood park on your way home will help clear your head and release endorphins that subdue anxiety, increase energy levels, and improve your mood. 

5. Visit a friend

Good friends can distract you from the stresses of the day and have a positive effect on your mood. And in stressful situations, they can offer empathy and give you an outside perspective on a problem. If you’re low on energy after a long workday, choose low-maintenance friends who are easy to be around. Alternatively, high-energy friends can boost your energy levels and make you laugh. Pick the company that suits you best. 

6. Cook a nutritious meal

It’s possible that the last thing you want to do after a long day is cook, but it can actually help reduce stress by tapping into your creative side. Grab your apron, turn on some light music, and create a favorite meal you don’t often find time to make. To keep your cortisol levels in check, aim for a meal that includes healthy fats like avocado and complex carbs like sweet potatoes, rather than high-sugar or fried comfort food. 

Painting by Tamsin Smith

7. Make a cup of tea

Instead of reaching for a glass of wine, a high-sugar soda, or coffee, try destressing with a warming cup of herbal tea. Chamomile tea is a popular choice for its calming effect, but there are dozens of options—including custom herbal super tabs—bursting with antioxidants that are good for your body and mind. Plus, the very act of making and sipping a cup of tea can calm your nerves as you settle in for the night. 

8. Read a good book. 

Diving into a stimulating novel can help take your mind off of your own stresses and do-to lists. And often, preoccupying yourself with fiction can transport you out of the hectic real world. Even if you only have time for 20 minutes of reading on your commute home or a few pages while you cook dinner, the time spent away from your own worries can be a refreshing post-work routine.  

Nicole Axworthy is a Toronto-based writer and author of the vegan cookbook DIY Vegan.

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