We live in a "go" society where constantly working is seen almost as a badge of honor. But rest is vital to your mental and physical health--you can't skimp on it! That means you have to have ways to get out of "go" mode and turn up the recoup dial. And since numerous studies now suggest that sedentary time in front of a screen actually doesn't help you relax, try these no-tech ways to wind down.
1. Go through a progressive relation sequence.
Progressive relaxation is a technique where you go through a sequence of squeezing and relaxing muscles. Simply start at your toes and work your way up your body, or start at your head and work your way down.
2. Read a great book.
Reading is one of the most intelligent things you can do, connecting you with all kinds viewpoints and information. It's fine to have a few business-related books or biographies on your list here, but when you're trying to relax, sometimes it's nice to let your brain completely escape from anything you can connect to the office. Explore some great fiction!
3. Chat with a friend or family member.
We sometimes get so busy with projects we start to become isolated, which can make rest-robbing stress even worse. Reach out to someone you can vent to and joke around with, even if it's only for a few minutes.
Work has...So. Many. Rules. So many expectations. It's easy to feel like playing isn't "you" anymore. But that's exactly why you need to do it. Your brain and body both need the exercise, whether it's swinging on a swing or sticking your fingers in paints. As Jennifer Wallace notes in an article for The Washington Post, research indicates that continuing to play as an adult makes a positive difference in connecting with others, and people who consider themselves open to clowning around report less stress and better coping skills.
5. Cook up a tasty snack.
Smell and taste are powerful ways to pull happy, soothing memories back to the front of your mind. While you might be a little too tired to whip out a 5-course meal, it's probably not too much trouble to make yourself a warm cup of instant oatmeal with aromatic cinnamon or a half sandwich of grilled ham and wonderfully gooey cheese. A munchable around 150-200 calories is perfect.
6. Do some gardening.
Even if all you've got is a few pots on your patio, research shows that time in nature is good for the brain. And as Sarah Rayner points out in her article for Psychology Today, gardening also offers benefits, such as letting you interact peacefully with something that doesn't have any agenda and providing rhythmic sensory-motor input.
7. Sit alone for five minutes.
Blaise Pascal famously said that "all men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone". The idea is that, while we all have social needs that are perfectly acceptable, we need to be brave and comfortable enough with ourselves to face and accept whatever comes from within us. We need to have the courage to break away from the usual tasks or expectations of the world and connect to who we deeply are, to observe and ponder without judgment. Find a quiet location, just sit, and let it all go.
8. Make something.
Maybe you can do some string art or tie strips of old clothes into a doormat. Whatever craft floats your boat, this is a great way to end the day feeling personally productive and creative. Plus, crafts are something you can do with others, and they can turn some of the stressful, unsightly "junk" in your home into something beautiful.
9. Move your to-do list to your calendar.
We often can't wind down because we don't know if we'll be able to handle everything that's upcoming. We worry that we'll miss something and not have enough time, and we stay awake trying to mentally fit all the pieces together. By assigning a very clear day and time slot for what you have to do, you get rid of this problem and keep your schedule realistic.
10. Write out what was awesome.
Stress and fatigue have a way of turning us into grumps who can't see how great we are. Jot a short list of what went well or that you accomplished through the day. This way, you can see there really are positive elements in your life, and you can focus on how to build on them for tomorrow.