How to relax after work
By getting into a routine of post-work self-care, we find ourselves naturally and effortlessly feeling more harmonious with life in general
With workplace stress on the rise across the globe, it is becoming more imperative than ever that we learn how to effectively navigate ourselves in the direction of the often elusive “work-life balance.” Disconnecting from work is becoming increasingly difficult with rapidly expanding technologies and social media, and yet our need for relaxation is at the same time growing just as quickly. Despite the demands of work life, we can explore various ways of relaxing after we leave the office, helping us to make post-work peace of mind a more common and naturally-occurring experience.
There are numerous reasons to explain why work weighs heavily on us, with sources of stress ranging from pressure and conflict with our bosses and co-workers to long hours, a heavy workload, and organizational changes. Job security, too, is a source of concern for many. The trickle-down effects of stress are just as widespread. Signs and symptoms that work is getting the better of us include fatigue, skin issues, muscular tension, gastrointestinal issues, and insomnia, but these signs are really just a few of the ways stress manifests. Since the mind and body are so deeply interconnected, stress affects all facets of our being, impacting wellbeing of mind, body, and spirit.
Ways to Relax After Work
Learning to let go of the workplace once the work day has finished is a conscious act of self-care. Our habitual thoughts and behaviours are called into question once we become more mindful of the line we draw between work and our personal life. This awareness puts us in a position to more effectively manage our wellbeing.
Though they may seem like simple techniques, mindfully moving through some of the following actions can help us let go of the workplace and become more present with life every time we return home.
1. Explore a health-promoting activity or hobby.
Disconnect from work by tuning both mind and body into another activity that promotes your sense of wellbeing. Health-promoting activities can be anything from physical exercise, to reading or listening to calming music. When exercising, ensure there is enough time set aside for the body to ease back down before heading to bed.
2. Turn your home into a sanctuary.
Make your home a place of peace and relaxation by setting the mood with relaxing music and non-toxic candles or essential oils. Choose your favourite nook in the house and set it up comfortably with warm blankets and cushions, books and magazines, and any other items that help you relax such as a musical instrument, a Himalayan salt lamp or even your yoga mat.
3. Take care of all ‘must-do’s as soon as you return home
If there are after-work tasks that need to get done on any particular day, make it a priority to get those out of the way before settling into your sanctuary. Your mind will relax more effortlessly once it knows that ‘must-do’s are taken care of.
4. Consciously separate work tasks and personal chores
Leave work concerns at work by becoming more mindful of what tasks belong there rather than in the home. For instance, if you have reservations to make for a business lunch, make those on work time. Even simple tasks can distract us from being present with ourselves and with our loved ones.
5. Turn off personal electronic devices
Our personal entanglement with the workplace has grown stronger in recent years due to the technological age we live in. Whether through social media or through work emails, we are constantly connected to our co-workers and the workplace. To help untangle the knots that have us constantly thinking about work, turn off phones and computers (especially work devices) to tune more attentively into the present moment.
6. Mind what you eat and drink
Reducing intake of stimulating beverages and foods such as coffee, tea, and chocolate helps to relax both body and mind. Since alcohol interrupts circadian rhythms, intake of alcoholic beverages should also be reduced to help promote deeper sleep. In place of stimulating beverages, consider incorporating caffeine-free teas – such as chamomile or peppermint – into your nightly routine.
7. Mind your words.
Our words are more powerful than we tend to realize, so minding our words after work is crucial for helping us disconnect from the workplace. Try to become more mindful when venting about work or co-workers creep into conversations with friends and family. While there is a time and place to express our feelings and emotions, complaining and venting often leaves us in a negative loop that doesn’t improve or heal the situation we are struggling with in any meaningful way. Mindfulness of the words we speak goes a long way in promoting our sense of peace and contentment.
8. Make and leave your work ‘to-do’ list at work.
At the end of the work day, make a ‘to-do’ list for the following day and leave it there. Preparing for what is to come will help you realize there is nothing to be done workwise until you return to your desk. This kind of planning will facilitate your ability to let go of the day once you step out of the office (or other work environment).
9. Take a warm bath.
Allow the body to relax by dimming the lights, lighting some candles, and sinking into a warm bath. This act of self-care will help you to release muscular tension and mental stress, preparing the body for a deep and restorative sleep.
Yoga Practices for Post-Work Relaxation
Contraction and Release
Yoga and meditation practices are also invaluable tools to help us naturally and effectively disconnect from work and release stress from both mind and body. One such simple and powerful technique to release stress is contraction and release. By inhaling and tensing all muscles of the body (or by contracting one muscle group at a time) and then releasing, we invite deep relaxation into the body.
Belly breathing is another useful tool for relaxation that helps us naturally and effectively release stress and anxiety. When we experience acute or chronic stress, we unconsciously breathe into only the shallow cavities of the chest. When we then consciously allow our breath to deepen, we ease the body’s secretion of stress hormones and come back towards a state of physical and mental equilibrium. Through deep breathing we naturally release stress.
Another practice that helps us to experience peace and tranquility is a form of meditation known as Ajapa Japa. This practice, which is a unique blend of meditation, pranayama, and mantra, can take years of practice to master but is a technique that helps us move towards pure awareness and inner tranquility.
Bhramari Pranayama is another breathing practice that can be explored as well, helping release tension and anxiety that we may be unwittingly picking up from the workplace.
Asanas for relaxation
Yoga in general helps us to tune into the body and away from whatever past or future ideas the mind is playing with; however, various asanas have different physical benefits that can help to relieve work-related physical stress. For instance, those with back stiffness can practice standing poses such as Tadasana, Tiryaka Tadasana, and Kati Chakrasana to gently promote physical ease and release.
When it comes to complete and total surrender of whatever stress lingers within us, Shavasana is the ultimate pose. This yoga pose guides us into a state of conscious release and relaxation, helping us to let go of all that does not serve us in this moment. This pose can be practiced as soon as we return from work, right before bed, or anytime in between.
Making Relaxation a Ritual
Our wellbeing is more important than anything, making it more than worthy of our daily attention. Turning relaxation into a ritual can help us feel more grounded and centered within ourselves and within our physical environments. By getting into a routine of post-work self-care, we find ourselves naturally and effortlessly feeling more harmonious with life in general. The elusive “work-life balance” suddenly appears within our reach, and as we reach for it, we realize it is more valuable than anything our paycheque can buy.