How was your day? Let me guess: You don’t want to talk about it.
After a stressful, no good, very bad day at work, the No. 1 thing you want to do is feel better. This is why it’s so important to create an evening routine that puts you in a positive mood and gives your mind and body a break.
Despite everyone being a little bit different, there is a science to de-stressing. Here are five activities to try to unwind after a stressful or terrible work day. (For the record, I swear by no. 2!)
1. Sign off completely
The last thing you need after a challenging day is another email, phone call, text, FaceTime, Slack message or any other form of communication with your boss or team. It’s important for your mental health to sign off from work as much as you can in the evening. Signing off means don’t check or engage in work communications and don’t think about stressful work situations.
Also, say goodbye to social media for the night. A negative comment or tragic story could trigger emotions you aren’t prepared to handle. The Internet and reality will still be there tomorrow. Right now, focus on yourself.
2. Release the negative energy
I’m a true believer that exercise eliminates both physical and mental stressors, which once relieved will help you feel calm. That’s why whenever I feel stressed or I anticipate stress I go for a run. For me, running is soothing.
Not a runner? Take a walk. Do yoga or stretch the parts of your body where you feel discomfort. A punching bag or excessively fluffing the couch pillows may get the job done, too.
3. Talk it out
When I say talk it out, I don’t mean talk about work. (Reread activity No. 1.) Have a positive conversation with your spouse or friend. Ask about his or her day. If he or she had just as bad of a day as you did, then quickly change the subject.
Sometimes the person you really want to talk to won’t be there, but there are other ways to talk it out. Ask your son or daughter (or even your cat) what to do if he or she had a bad day. I bet the answer (purr included) will make you smile.
Meditation may be intimidating for you if you have never meditated, but if you have an open mind you’ll find it’s simple and incredibly beneficial.
Although there are advanced techniques of meditation, the foundation of this therapy is to sit, close your eyes and breathe. Remember activity #1 and don’t let memories of the bad day reenter your mind. When I meditate, my goal is to think about nothing.
5. Dream happy
When bedtime comes, think about something that makes you happy. Reading a chapter of a good book could aid this positive thinking.
When I’m trying to calm my overactive mind, I close my eyes and imagine the waves crashing on the beach because that’s my happy place. This helps me to go sleep. As silly as this belief may seem, the mind is a powerful thing. When you take full control of your mind, you can dream the dream you need to fall asleep feeling content after a terrible work day.
And once you’re there dreaming, just let tomorrow wait for tomorrow.
Kristen Farrell is a professional communicator who previously worked in human resources. She shares career lessons and everyday experiences on her blog: kristen-farrell.com. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her running, crafting, or spending time with her husband, Jonathan and cat, Trotsky.