After an exhausting day at work, nothing sounds better than going home to relax. But sometimes, even this can be hard to do when your mind is still racing with all of the unfinished tasks that are piling up on your desk.
Like millions of people, you may be struggling with feeling relaxed in the comfort of your own home due to improper stress management. Prolonged stress can negatively impact your mind and body.1
Take your mental and physical health into your own hands and read on for some tips on how to de-stress after work.
How Managing Stress May Help Support A Healthy Mind And Body
Being aware of the effects of stress on your brain and body is a good start to managing stress.
It’s no surprise that constant stress negatively influences your health. Not only can stress cause physical symptoms, like an increased heart rate, but recent research suggests that long-term stress may actually change your brain structure and lead to increased anxiety and other stress-related issues.2,3
De-Stressing Basics: How Good Habits Affect Your Overall Health And Well-Being
Because mental and physical health is so intertwined, scientists suggest that it might be possible to combat stress with activities that improve overall health and well-being. And it’s a two-way street, meaning that overall health-benefiting activities may also aid in reducing stress.4
Some of the most effective ways to improve your overall health include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Developing healthy sleep habits5
Eating A Healthy Diet
Research suggests a distinct association between stress and eating habits. Studies have found correlations between stress and craving foods that have high fat and sugar content. Consuming these kinds of unhealthy foods might put a strain on your mental and physical well-being.6
To combat these threats, studies suggest a diet that is low in:
- Refined carbs
And high in:
- Healthy fats
- Quality proteins
Physical activity is another potentially great stress reliever. Just like a healthy diet, the association between regular exercise and its effects on stress and your mental and physical health are well-studied. Scientists have found that consistent participation in aerobic exercise may help decrease tension and boost mood (thanks to an increased production of feel-good endorphins).8
What kinds of specific physical activities may help manage stress levels? As it turns out, most any kind of exercise can help, including:
- Elliptical training
- Strength training9
Developing Healthy Sleep Habits
Research suggests that there may be a significant link between sleep habits and stress. Surveys have shown that adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night are more likely to report symptoms of stress.10 Just like a healthy diet, it appears that stress and sleep also fall into a cycle where stress causes poor sleep habits and decreased sleep causes an increase in stress.11
It’s safe to assume that a good night’s sleep may have a positive impact on the symptoms of stress and anxiety, thus opening the door to more rest and relaxation. But what do proper sleep habits look like?
Here are some suggestions that might help improve your nighttime slumber and ease stress:
- Following a regular sleep schedule.
- Establishing a consistent bedtime routine.
- Restricting nicotine use and caffeine consumption, especially in the hours before bed.
- Maintaining a healthy diet.
- Using the bedroom only for sleep.12
Managing Work-Related Stress: De-Stressing After Work Can Feel Unmanageable
Now, there are many causes for feeling stressed, and work-related anxiety is no exception. This can be caused by a variety of events, such as the pressures of a demanding job, constant change, threats to job security, and conflict with your co-workers or bosses.13
One useful technique to leaving your stress at the office is to have end-of-workday habits that may help you decompress. This may be helpful in preparing your mind to switch off from work mode to relaxation mode, and it might help you find the work-life balance you desire.14
What are some ways you can decompress and switch from work to relaxation mode? You could spend your commute home de-stressing while you listen to music, call good friends, or sit with a cup of tea after you arrive home to relax your mind and help reduce stress.
A second useful technique is to disconnect from technology including emails, cell phone, and laptop when you leave the office. If this option is not possible due to your job commitments, try to find an hour a day to be free of distractions. This will help free your mind from the constant strain of work.15
Lastly, have a conversation with your boss or superior if work seems to be causing prolonged or intense stress. Let them know what is truly bothering you with your daily commitments. Avoiding burnout will help your day to day become more manageable.16
No matter what you chose, it can be incredibly beneficial to find a calming activity that helps transition your thoughts from stress to tranquility.
Stress Management On The Job: Something To Meditate On
It’s important to listen to your body. The previous tips have hopefully helped to equip you with ways to de-stress after work, but you can also de-stress quickly on the job with some easy yoga or meditation practices that can be done subtly at your desk, such as:
- Chair vinyasa
- Breathing techniques
- Subtle pranayama
- Silent mantra
- Walking meditation17
In fact, meditating at work not only helps alleviate the feeling of stress, it’s also been found to improve productivity, engagement, and teamwork.18
Take Control Of Your Stress
At the end of the day, there’s almost no way to avoid work-related stress completely. But it’s possible to discover ways that may help you leave that stress at the office after a long day so that you may find relaxation at home.
Changing your diet, sleep, and exercise habits may help set you on a path to a lifestyle where you’re in control of your stress in a way that’s healthy, effective, and manageable.
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