No matter how you spend your day, there’s a good chance that you like to end the day the same way many of us do: By unwinding.
After all, your long day has had enough decisions, stressors, responsibilities, pressures, and to-do items. So it’s no surprise that what you want as you exit-ramp your day into a night of good sleep (you do get 7 to 8 hours, right?) is some down-time and some me-time.
De-stressing and decompressing after many stressful hours is good for both your mental and physical health, so it’s important to have a self-care routine that can promote a sense of relaxation.
As you consider your favorite ways to relax, I’m sharing some of the little luxuries I enjoy that help me downshift at the end of the day. You will find these comforting and convenient to add to your day. It’s so important to take time for yourself when the day is over. It’s not just an unwinding time but also a recharging time to help you prepare for tomorrow.
Aromatherapy—utilizing essential oils—can help relieve anxiety and stress. These natural oils are extracted from plants, flowers, and fruits that can be enjoyed via a diffuser rubbed into the palm of your hands (after it’s diluted) with a carrier oil or added to a bath.
The vibrant fragrances of essential oils infiltrate our smell receptors, which relay a message to our nervous system that tells the body to calm down, helping to relieve stress.
I like scents like lavender, chamomile, and rose. My favorite is Bergamot orange. Derived from the Citrus bergamia tree, this essential oil comes from the Bergamot orange rind after it has been cold-pressed. Bergamot orange essential oil has a fragrant citrus aroma and is known for reducing anxiety, making it a pleasant and refreshing way to relax. 11,12, 13
Incorporating yoga into your daily routine is a great way to decompress and stretch your body. Some poses are meant to relax while others are more active. This is a beneficial combination that can calm, reduce anxiety, and help autonomic functions.3
Stretching your muscles and paying attention to your breathing promotes mindfulness. Yoga also helps strengthen your core and increase flexibility. In a study, examining the effects of consistent yoga practice, it was found flexibility increased by 35 percent in eight weeks.
When stretching, try to control your breathing and really focus on the deep breaths you take. That can help pull you into the present and help reduce the stress you may have experienced throughout your day. 2
Meditation and mindfulness require being fully present and taking note of where you are, what your body wants and how to address these needs. This helps promote a sense of calmness and mental clarity.
Stop for a minute. Take a break. Be present in the moment. Meditating helps you unwind, reduce negative feelings and manage overall stress. Sit down, take note of your body, gently drop your gaze and focus on your breathing. (There are also many apps you can download and use if you’re a beginner and want to be guided through meditation.)
Exercising is a great way to not only stay in shape but also find an outlet for stress relief. Regardless of how you choose to move, whether it be running, trips to the gym or a long walk, all of these workouts offer the same benefit.
Being active can help reduce the potential effects of depression and anxiety. When you move, your brain releases endorphins, also referred to as feel-good neurotransmitters. (This is like the runner’s high, which is attributed to the positive feelings associated with the end of a workout.) Physical activity helps release internalized stressors and brings on a positive change in mood. 1,7
Just don’t do it too close to bedtime because it could interfere with your sleep. Better to do this one in the early evening to enjoy the greatest benefits—without any potential sleep disruption.
Drink Green Tea
A study conducted in 2009 looked at 42,000 Japanese adults who regularly drank green tea, consuming upwards of five cups a day. Results showed less psychologically-induced stress, as opposed to adults who had one or fewer cups of green tea daily. Green tea offers many health benefits because it’s rich in antioxidants, nutrients, and polyphenols.4,5,6
These benefits include improving brain function, burning fat, reducing the risk of certain cancers, and more. The aroma and soothing nature of green tea is a benefit in and of itself, and the positive health effects are an added bonus.6
It’s amazing how our senses are so easily influenced by the environment. Exposure to stressful things can bring tension and anxiety into our lives, affecting both our mental and physical health. Taking this into account, adding positive comforts to our daily routines can help relieve tension and provide a relaxing outlet.
Many people find listening to music is a positive way to decompress after a long day. Calming sounds have the ability to lower blood pressure, slow down heart rate, and reduce anxiety. When looking for soothing sounds, try natural sounds like waves, running rivers, and birds singing. They’re also a nice companion for deep breathing and meditation.
Some songs and vocals may work as a good alternative as well. As long as the songs are calming and promote relaxation, your body will positively respond and you decompress at the end of the day.1
So how about adding a little healthy luxury to your day? Self-indulge, relax and restore.