Life has a funny way of adding stress to even the most promising of days. Traffic pops up when you least expect it and mini-emergencies at work appear out of thin air. In addition to the stress of everyday life, there’s also the anxiety about what might happen tomorrow. Since there’s no way to avoid the constant pressure of living your life, I’ve made it my personal mission over the past few years to regulate my stress levels. Stress not only takes a toll on your mood, but it can also affect your physical and mental health. I’ve a lengthy list of medical conditions that run in my family, so I take particular caution to find creative ways to relax at the end of the day – especially since I have a precious baby on the way now!
Unfortunately, I haven’t found a magic button that instantly lowers your anxiety; however, I can tell you that de-stressing is muscle that you can strengthen with practice. The key is to find activities that help you calm down and re-center, so that the stress of everyday life can melt away in minutes. Today I’m sharing ten easy ways to de-stress at the end of a long day. All of these calming activities instantly reduce my stress levels and help me refocus on the good things in my life instead of dwelling over the stressful incidents of the day. Plus, they’re a great way to practice self care and give yourself the relaxation that you deserve.
10 Easy Ways to De-Stress after A Long Day
1. Create A List of Everything That’s Stressing You Out
Sometimes, I just need to get all my stressful thoughts out of my head, so that they’re not constantly re-circling over and over again. On a normal day, this activity might just be planning out the next day in my agenda, so that I can know that I am one step ahead of my responsibilities. On more stressful days, I might fill up three sheets of paper with to-do lists, goals, and priorities for the upcoming week. No matter how long or short my list may be, I find that I’m noticeably less stressed when I have all of my responsibilities and grievances written in one place. It somehow makes my worries seem more manageable when I can cross of finished projects one by one.
2. Enjoy A Pampering Session with Your Favorite Beauty Products
A little bit of pampering can go a long way on stressful days. Whether you enjoy soaking in a bubble bath, testing out a new makeup look, painting your nails, or giving your skin a much-needed facial, you’re guaranteed to feel more relaxed in minutes. While the act of applying your fanciest beauty lotions and potions is soothing, it’s also an easy to change your train of thought. Giving yourself a few minutes to think about something other than the chaos of your day will allow your mind to relax and re-center.
3. Take The Long Way Home and Enjoy A Podcast or Audiobook
When I’ve had a particularly stressful day at work, sometimes I feel like I need to decompress before seeing my family and/or friends. While I’m blessed with a loving and supportive family, some days call for an extra bit of personal space. I don’t want to step out of one stressful situation and take that chaos into my next interaction with my loved ones. On these types of days, my favorite way to decompress is to take the long way home. Even if my commute takes twice as long as it normally does, the detour feels like a small treat where I can enjoy my favorite podcast, audiobook, or music in peace. Whether I’m catching up with the adventures of Claire and Jamie in the Outlander series or listening to the latest episode of Sword and Scale, I’m guaranteed to be in a much better mood by the time I’m back at home.
4. Disconnect from Electronics and Read A Book by Candlelight
With today’s technology, it can be hard to completely escape the stresses of daily life. Even when we’re at home in our happy place, there’s 24/7 news on TV, work e-mails that come in around the clock, and a non-stop barrage of notifications from our phones. I make it a personal goal to completely disconnect from electronics for at least a few hours each week. This quiet time allows me to catch up on activities that I love, like reading my favorite book by candlelight. I’m currently re-reading Love in The Time of Cholera, and it’s a thousand times easier to enjoy the beautiful words of Gabriel García Marquez when my phone isn’t dinging every five seconds. Whether you catch up on your favorite book or simply take a nap, I guarantee you won’t regret turning off your phone for a few hours each week.
5. Dedicate 15 Minutes to Meditation
When I say meditation, I don’t want you to think that I expect you to sit cross-legged with your hands in a funny position. To me, meditation is simply a concentrated effort to focus your thoughts and breathing. Taking even fifteen minutes to get out of your head and allow your mind to unwind can do wonders for your mood, and the method is completely up to you. Simply go to a quiet and peaceful place (even if it’s your car or closet) and spend as much or as little time as you want with your preferred method of meditation. You can use a guided meditation app, spend time in prayer, or simply try to concentrate on your breathing for the allotted time. Purposely choose to focus your mind and body a few days in a row, and you’ll see results quicker than you might expect.
6. Create A Gratitude Journal
If I could only give you one piece advice on de-stressing, I’d recommend practicing gratitude. Gratitude has a way of transforming our worst tragedies into bearable memories, and bad days into life lessons. Every day, I write a list of the things that I’m grateful for in my gratitude journal. Even if you feel like there is nothing to be grateful for, think about the things that you might take for granted on a daily basis. Your job may suck, but your paycheck allows you to keep a roof over your family’s head. You might be sleep-deprived and cranky, but you were blessed with friends who kept you up all night laughing over old memories. Even when it seems impossible, choose to grateful for something in your life, and you’ll quickly develop a new mindset and attitude.
7. Enjoy Your Favorite Snack
Ok, now that we’ve gone through a few traditional relaxation activities, let’s get to the good stuff: food. If you’re anything like me, nothing melts away stress like a few bites of your favorite food. At the moment, my baby girl has given me a major sweet tooth, and I can’t resist a few bites of chocolate at the end of the day. My current favorite sweet treats are the DOVE® Promises® chocolates in Sea Salt Caramel & Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate varieties. I’ve also quickly developed a love affair with Dove Fruit’s chocolate-covered cherries and blueberries, and I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon. Paired with a cup of hot herbal tea, these chocolates are pure bliss.
Truth be told, this de-stressing secret is something that’s been passed down in my family. My grandmother, aunt, and mother used to always keep a few bags of Dove chocolate hidden in their homes, and they’d treat themselves to one or two chocolates each day when they needed to take a break from the stresses of life or celebrate a small victory. I can still remember being a little kid and feeling so fancy as I unwrapped the chocolate and revealed the hidden message inside the wrapper. Whether I was sharing a snack with my mother, aunt, or grandmother, those little messages always launched us into a conversation or a fit of laughter.
Now that I’m grown and expecting a child of my own, I can’t help but get teary-eyed when I think of how many beautiful afternoons in my childhood were created by simply sharing a piece of chocolate with a loved one. I can’t wait to share this tradition with my daughter when she’s old enough, but until then, I’ll enjoy pressing the pause button on life each day while I savor my favorite chocolates.
8. Go outside and enjoy nature
There’s something about nature that instantly calms your soul. The crisp breeze, beautiful flowers, or scenic views can wash away stress in seconds and remind you of the beauty in the world. If you have the chance to spend even a few minutes outdoors each day, try to purposely soak in the experience and take notice of every beautiful thing along your path. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your mood will change.
9. Engage in your favorite form of exercise
Sometimes the best way to get rid of stress is to eliminate your nervous energy by exercising. When I’m stressed, I like to treat myself to a relaxing yoga session, leisurely bike ride, or upbeat dance class. Exercise can also be a great form of meditation, and you can even exercise outdoors to take advantage of the calming presence of natural surroundings.
10. Dance it outWhen all else fails, a mini dance party is bound to do the trick. Put on your favorite pajamas, pump up your favorite song, and dance around your house like a crazy person. Sometimes the stresses of everyday life stubbornly stick around, but a spontaneous dance party is a sure fire way to shake off any remaining stress.
And there you have it. I’ve shared 10 easy ways to de-stress after a long day, but I’d love to know your favorite way to unwind. Leave a comment below with the stress-busting activities that ease your worries away! And if you need a treat after long days, I honestly couldn’t recommend DOVE® Promises chocolates more. I mean, good chocolate can make anything better in an instant. Head to your local Walgreens, and pick up Dove Promises in Sea Salt Caramel & Dark Chocolate along with the traditional Milk Chocolate variety.
While these treats are already affordable, you’ll receive $1 off your purchase when you buy 2 Dove Promises between April 30th and June 4th at Walgreens. If you’re looking for something with chocolate-y goodness but also a little bit of a fruity bite, check out their chocolate-covered cherries and blueberries. I’m telling you, a handful of chocolate-covered cherries is guaranteed to boost your spirit!
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