How to Relax After a Stressful Day
Learn how to relax after a stressful day to improve mood, decrease stress levels, and sleep better.
One of the biggest mistakes I see ambitious professionals make before working with me is not taking the time to relax after a stressful day.
For most, work is stressful for one reason or the other.
If it’s not work, it might be the commute home. Or, it might be what you have going on in your personal life or in your family life when you get home.
When we don’t take the time to relax after a stressful day:
-our stress and anxiety increase
-we are more likely to experience sleep problems
-we may have issues interacting with others
Learning how to relax after a stressful day is one of the best ways to separate your work life from your personal life, improve overall stress levels, and sleep better at night so you can take the next day by storm.
How to Relax After a Stressful Day: Transition Effectively
In order to be able to relax after a stressful day, it’s important to have a ritual that tells you that the workday is over.
People often make the mistake of going directly from work into their personal life activities, which does not tell the mind that the workday has ended.
This is especially true if you are continuing to think about work the rest of the evening when trying to do other things.
So, it is important to have a transition ritual or routine that signals the end of the workday.
This can include:
-shutting down the computer
-putting papers and files away
-writing quick notes about the day or what you want to do the next day
-saying aloud, "My workday has ended"
-anything else that can help your mind clearly understand that the workday has ended
Once you have engaged in a task to signify the end of the workday, it’s also important to do a task as part of your routine that signifies the start of the rest of your day or personal life.
This may include:
-changing into "home" clothes
-putting on specific music
-calling a friend or family member
-anything else that helps your mind understand that it is time for the rest of your day and time to relax
Once you have done this, it's helpful to engage in a deep relaxation exercise to calm the nervous system.
Calming the Stress Response is How to Relax After a Stressful Day
Once you have engaged in the routine that tells your mind and body that it is time to relax, it's helpful to engage in an activity that can help calm the stress response and relax the nervous system.
Calming the nervous system specifically can be one of the best ways to relax after a stressful day. The following activities can help you accomplish this:
Exercise one of the best ways to relax after a stressful day and to manage stress in general. Exercise physically calms the body by relieving tension, releasing endorphins, and calming the mind.
So, incorporating exercise after a stressful day is one of the best ways to destress and recuperate.
This can include any type of exercise that you enjoy, and it can even be brief. Consistency is more important than the length of time, so finding an exercise you can do consistently is the key to success.
The Role of Physical Activity in Managing Stress
Engage in Deep Breathing
One of the best ways to calm down the stress response in the body and relax after a stressful day is with deep breathing.
Deep breathing physically calms the body and the mind by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for rest and relaxation.
Therefore, spending a few minutes deep breathing is a great way to relax the mind and body after a stressful day and move on to the rest of your day.
Advantages of Deep Breathing: Your Ultimate Guide
Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Another excellent way to calm the stress response in the body so you can relax after a stressful day is with progressive muscle relaxation.
This exercise helps you train the body to relieve muscle tension, which can help you relax and sleep better at night.
This is an especially helpful exercise to do later in the evening to help you fall asleep faster so you can wake up more relaxed and ready to take on your day.
How to Relax with Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Other Great Ways to Relax After a Stressful Day
In addition to calming the nervous system, there are many ways to relax after a stressful day.
Engage in Relaxing Activity
It’s helpful to take inventory of the activities that you find relaxing.
Maybe you like reading a book with music in the background.
Maybe you find cooking a delicious meal relaxing.
It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it is relaxing for you and something that is doable after work.
Come up with a list of activities that you enjoy. Then, prioritize the ones that are doable for you after a stressful day.
Make sure to incorporate these into your routine on a daily or weekly basis.
Spend Time with Family and Friends
Engaging in meaningful interactions with family and friends is a great way to relax, especially after a difficult day.
These interactions may be in-person or virtual. Try to incorporate a variety of in-person and other forms of contact with your loved ones to help you to reduce stress and decompress from a stressful day.
It is common for many to have difficulty shutting their mind off after a stressful day. When your mind is very active, this prevents you from doing other things that could be beneficial for your mood.
Journaling is one of the best ways to externalize your thoughts so you can process the situations, thoughts, and feelings of the day. Once you have done this, this allows you to move on to other parts of the day and to focus on destressing and relaxing.
Journaling for Beginners to Relieve Stress
Stress is a natural part of work and everyday living. When we don’t take the time to relax after a stressful day, this can have negative impacts on our mood, sleep, and relationships.
Therefore, coming up with a plan to regularly relax after you have had a stressful day is crucial for your overall well-being and productivity.
Having difficulty letting go of stress and relaxing? My Master Stress Method has helped hundreds of stressed out professionals learn to manage stress so they can improve their mood, productivity, and efficiency.
Book a discovery call so we can talk about how to make that happen for you, too.
-----About Dr. Julia
Hi! I'm Dr. Julia. Health psychologist, stress and sleep expert, and creator of the Master Stress Method.
I have worked with thousands of individuals in major hospitals, university medical centers, and primary care settings to improve their stress levels, sleep, and overall emotional and physical well being.
My current focus is helping busy professionals prevent and manage the high stress that is getting in the way of their productivity, mood, sleep, and their ability to reach their full potential.
My Master Stress Method has helped hundreds of stressed out, overwhelmed, and burned out clients significantly reduce their stress and anxiety, improve their sleep, and maximize their productivity in a short time.
I can't wait to help you stop the struggle with stress, for good. Let's chat :)