Life is hectic. Your inbox is overflowing, the kids have soccer practice, and your boss expects you to stay late to finish a project they gave you less than two hours ago.
While there isn’t much we can do to reduce the amount of things jammed into a 24 hour period, there are ways to relax your body and mind, and be ready to take on the next day ahead.
Many people turn to exercise as part of their daily routine and health regime. Activities such as yoga, weight lifting, cardio, and stretching aren’t just good for your body; they’re good for your mind too.
Taking the time to concentrate on the task at hand can allow your mind to let go of stress factors and focus on what you are currently involved with. Many gyms offer classes that have physical contact components, such as boxing, that will let you get your aggression out while doing your body some good.
The problem is most of us don’t like the confounded space of a gym. That shouldn’t be a problem – swimming is one of those habits that you can’t imagine incorporating into your routine but once you get into it, you become addicted to it.
If you live in an apartment, get a pool membership and take a 20-30 minutes dip before you head of to work. If you live in a house getting an above-ground swimming pool is worth thinking about.
According to ultimatepoolguide.com, you can get a good one on the cheap and the money you pay for it will continue to bring dividends. Investing in one is investing in your own wellness.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but meditation is one of the go-to ways to ease and relax your mind and body. All you will need is a quiet place, closed eyes, and the ability to breathe deeply.
If you want to make meditation a bit more visual, imagine yourself in an ideal destination. Wherever your visualized spot is, take everything in that you can while you complete the breathing; notice the colors, the sounds, and the smells while you virtually transport yourself to this spot.
For those of you who may not have time to full on meditate, deep breathing works well, too! The great thing about this is that it can be done literally anywhere. Pick a point of focus – the ceiling, the window, a flower- and hone in on that one thing.
As you focus on the object, breathe in deeply through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this multiple times.
Listen to music
Everyone has a favorite type of music, and for this any genre will do. Just be sure that it gives you a sense of happiness and positive thoughts! If you enjoy rock music, look for songs with a slower tempo.
Classical music on the piano or harp is also extremely relaxing. If you aren’t a fan of classical music, many of the top songs from today are covered on the piano, acoustic guitar, harp, and even the cello.
Go for a walk
This could fall under the exercise category, but deserves a spot all its own. Going for a walk doesn’t always mean you’re looking to accelerate your heart rate or break a sweat; just get outside and take in the fresh air.
The best thing about going for a walk is that there is no need to have a set destination; it is only determined by how long you need to give yourself to unwind and relax.
Take a long bath or shower
There is nothing more relaxing than sinking into a piping hot shower, or a hot drawn bath with bubbles, wine, and candles. Okay, maybe you would rather forego the bubbles, wine, and candles, but the sensation of submerging your body in warm water is second to none.
Set aside some time at the end of your day and make sure you will have this time to yourself.
Take a power nap
Taking a power nap not only has the ability to revive and rejuvenate your body for a full day ahead, but can also relieve your racing mind for a short period of time. Allowing yourself to rest for a power nap can be extremely beneficial, as long as you keep it short enough! And yes, it can be done even in office environment.
Sleeping for too long will allow your body to enter into the second or third stage of sleep, which will leave your mind and body feeling more tired and groggy than before you laid your head down. Although a 15 to 20 minute span of sleep may seem like nothing, this short rest will give you more energy than powering through the day without the added rest.
If you have access to an air mattress and a place to put it after it has been blown up, you’re in even more luck than those who have to revert to their car seat over lunch break. Now, we know that this might sound like it’s good in theory, but practically impossible in practice.
That’s not really the case – while regular air beds (the kind you’d use for a guest or camping – most of the best air beds out there are in queen and twin size – you can see some of the top-rated here) are too big to be portable and fit into your work backpack of gym bag, there are blow up beds that can do just that.
If you set your mind to choose the best air bed for your situation, there are options out there that are small, light and tough enough to be used in an office. When there’s a will, there’s a way.
Cook or bake
Cooking and baking are both very precise, and require a large amount of concentration. Immerse yourself in a recipe, new or an old favorite, and watch your creation becomes a reality. Think positively as you will have a tasty treat to reward yourself with!
Put your thoughts on paper
Writing down your emotions is a great way to get them out. By putting your thoughts down on paper, you are acknowledging your stressors: what makes you the most stressed? Recognizing these factors can help get feelings off of your chest, and can possibly help you reduce these in the future.
Talk to a friend or family member
Just like writing down what you’re feeling, speaking to someone can help relieve a crazy mind quickly. Even if you talk casually on the phone and don’t even bring up the stress and chaos, sometimes hearing a friendly voice is all you need to help put your mind at ease.
Do some type of puzzle
Whether it is a jigsaw, Sodoku, or crosswords, challenging your mind with puzzles can relive stress. Having your mind concentrate on solving something fun will completely redirect the stress into something productive.
If at al possible, do it with your friends and family – it’s better on so many levels.
Plan your dream home
We’ve all used Pinterest to plan things like weddings, engagement rings, and dream cars. Take an hour and create your own board of what you would like to see in a dream home. It’s a great way to be creative, have some fun, and take your mind away from stress.
This may not be everyone’s first choice, but power cleaning even one room of your home or apartment is not only satisfying, but a great way to ease aggression. Scrub your toilet, bathtub and counters; wash dishes by hand.
Anything to exert a high level of energy into something productive will make you feel great once it’s done.
Go for a drive
Like going for a walk, this option has no time frame or destination unless you choose to set one. The only thing this will require is some gas money.
Explore some back roads, blast some music, and roll your windows down while you adventure some unknown terrain. Just make sure you can get home on your own, or have a GPS to help navigate you back.
Relax your body muscles
Lie down on a couch or bed and imagine your body becoming heavy, piece by piece. Say in your head, or out loud, which parts are getting heavy and where the weight is moving next. Allow yourself to sink into the furniture and breathe deeply.
Read a book
Have you ever read a book that just transported you to another world? Pick a book, any book, of whichever genre interests you. Give yourself an hour to fall into the pages and become part of another world away from your own crazy mind.
Drink warm liquid
There are very few things better than feeling the warm coziness of something warm going into your stomach. Sip on a warm drink without alcohol: herbal tea, hot chocolate, bone broth. Take your time as you drink this and enjoy the feeling of warmth and comfort.
Do something artistic
Take some time for yourself and pick up the paint brushes or markers! You don’t have to be Picasso to relieve chaos through art. Any type of arts and crafts will do: painting, drawing, sewing, knitting, even coloring in adult coloring books- and yes, they really do make those.
Change into comfortable, non-work clothes
Nothing will remind you of a stressful work day than staying in the clothes you just finished your shift in. Put on comfortable clothes that remind you of being at home. If you can’t seem to wear sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt for the remainder of your day, change into jeans and a hoodie.
Spend time with your pet
Pets are your best friends and even a quick cuddle session with your furry pal is enough to relive stress. Talk to them, pet them, or even get outside and play with them! They’ll appreciate the attention as much as you appreciate the tension relief.
Food for thought
Our go-to “relaxation” these days usually relies on watching TV…whether it’s re-runs of Friends of that favorite movie of yours that you watched a dozen times already and know every line from.
Let’s just take a step back here and acknowledge if the TV really makes you feel relaxed. Most of us will know the underlying feeling of being even more disconnected from the world as you take a day to watch into a flat electronic surface.
You get a laugh or two but there’s that moment of clarity right after the laugh when you realize, for a split second, that it’s not doing you any good.
If you know what we meant when we mentioned that “split second” do try some of the tips on this list, don’t let it be just another list you read and thought to yourself, “Yeah, I should really try that.”
The hardest part is introducing the new activity into your life. Once you do, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.