How To De-Stress After Work

Being a #girlboss can be stressful. Work gets busy, life gets busy and before you know it you feel totally overwhelmed. When you find yourself out of energy, try these tips to de-stress and unwind after a long day. 

1. Walk Home

This may seem basic, but it has been a total lifesaver for me. In the hustle and bustle of a long work week, you can go days without really going outside. Some days, the longest exposure I have to the outdoors is the two minute walk from my apartment to the subway. And, let me tell you, this kind of mole-woman existence inevitably leads to cabin fever. 

I discovered my love for walking home by accident. I had worked late, there were subway delays and my frazzled end-of-day nerves just couldn't hack it. So I slipped on my loafers (pro tip: always have comfy shoes stashed at the office), popped in my headphones and walked home. It was amazing. Walking home gets your blood pumping, it gives you time to process your day and it's a great way to remind yourself that there is a world outside of the office.

Walking home is also a good trick to de-stress when you have to continue working from home in the evening. If you're feeling totally overwhelmed at the office, walk home. More often than not, your head will clear on the way home and you'll be ready to take another stab at it. 

If you don't use public transit or live within walking distance, try parking a little further away or go for a walk once you get home so you can sneak in a few minutes of outdoor exposure.

2. Ban Electronics

Stay with me! This isn't as drastic as it sounds. I love watching an episode of my favourite show before bed as much as the next woman, but it can be hard to decompress when you are constantly checking your phone, cruising Instagram or messaging your Bumble match. I also find that when I watch intense/scary/dark TV shows (think Sons of Anarchy, Jessica Jones, Six Feet Under) before bed, I tend to sleep poorly because my mind is still processing when I fall asleep. Another calm-killer is my work phone. If I see that little red message light blinking on my phone, I can't resist checking (no matter the hour). 

So try this. After you have finished all your work for the evening, put your work phone in another room (or turn off your notifications if you use the same phone for work and home). Save the latest episode of that nail-bitter for the weekend and stick to easy watching. If you're feeling extra tense, swap your laptop for a book or magazine. Turning off your electronics as you get ready for bed will help you wind down and focus your mind on having a restful sleep.

3. Take a Hot Shower/Bath

This tip is tried and true. After a particularly cr*p day, hop into an extra-hot shower or draw yourself a warm bath to unwind. Take your time. Stretch out any muscle tension under the hot water. Let go of that awkward thing you said at work (it happens to the best of us). Process the day. 

If you want to kick your relaxation up a notch, add some aromatherapy oils, bath bombs or bubbles a la Chandler Bing. Eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender are great scents for relaxation (yes, I am an old lady at heart). Bath and Body Works has a whole line of bath and shower products targeting stress relief (find them here). Give 'em a try.

4. Have a "Work-Free" Sleeping Space

I touched on this concept in my How to Work Effectively from Home post. When you have a busy career, it's important to have a space in your home that is work-free. It's easy to get into the habit of sprawling on your bed while reviewing reports or reading cases. Try to resist the urge. When you introduce work into your sleeping space, it becomes difficult to both work efficiently and sleep restfully.

Just as you need to create an effective work space, you need to make a cozy sleeping space. Have fun with it! Pick up a comfy throw or a fuzzy sheepskin for your bed. Ditch bright overhead lighting for fairy lights. Light some scented candles and make a nice cup of tea (or pour yourself a glass of wine if it's been one of those days). You want to associate your sleeping space with calm, relaxation and comfort, so create an environment that makes you feel ready for rest. 

5. Take a Mindful Minute

Mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware of the present moment and focusing on what's happening with your body and mind. While it sounds a bit intense and yoga-master-ish, it's really about checking in with yourself at the end of the day. 

Sometimes, when you've been running around all day, your busy mind keeps your tired body from falling asleep. Everyone's been there. You finally collapse into bed, but your mind races. Instead of falling asleep, you replay all the things that happened during the day, you plan for an upcoming meeting or you hash out a future conversation in your head. It can be difficult to still your mind and get good rest when you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

Enter mindfulness. Even on the busiest of days, it's important to take a few minutes to calm your mind before bed. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Get into bed, close your eyes and take a few minutes to check in with yourself. Acknowledge that you might be feeling anxious, stressed, tired or worried. It's okay, it happens. Take a few deep breaths and re-focus on calming your mind for bed. I like to get comfy and then relax each part of my body in turn, starting with my toes, then my feet, then my ankles, etc. I rarely make it past my knees before falling asleep. The simple practice of relaxing and refocusing before bed helps you sleep well and wake up rested.