The connected world we now live in means we can be reached at any time, making it that much harder to separate our professional and personal lives. If you don’t establish clear boundaries, the stress will diminish the quality of your life, both at work and home.
And it’s up to you to recognize this and create healthy habits to eliminate the stress.
This requires a proactive effort on your part. And by incorporating small stress relief practices into your day, as well as exercises after work, you can enter the evening hours of your personal life more relaxed. This enables you to enjoy those experiences even more and creates a healthy work-life balance.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.”
Learn how to recover from a stressful day using the tips below.
Your Work Day
Begin Your Day with Positive Intention
This is a crucial practice. Before you even get out of bed, take 3 minutes to lay there and do some breathing exercises. Inhale deeply, and exhale slowly several times. As you do this, think about the day ahead of you. Maintain positive thoughts about it and envision it.
Then get out of bed, stand and stretch all your major muscles. Bend forward, then arch backward; stretch your arms above your head and pull your shoulders back. Kick start the body and mind into firing on all pistons each day with positive thinking.
Clean Your Immediate Space
Disorganization is a major contributor to stress. And you spend at least eight hours a day at your desk. If the sight of it causes you stress, realize that you’re willingly exposing yourself daily to seven hours of non-stop stress. Take steps to help yourself and eliminate this unnecessary stress by using five minutes of your time to clean it before you start your workday.
When was the last time you cleaned your computer keyboard or your 2-in-1 device and organized your pens, pencils and paperwork? When was the last time you moved things and wiped away dust? And when was the last time your cleaned your phone?
If you walk into your work space facing a mountain of disorganization every day, you’re going to feel like you’ve got a mountain on your shoulders. With this one investment of 5 minutes of time into yourself – you have successfully eliminated at least 7 hours and 59 minutes of stress for yourself.
Start your work day with this basic breathing exercise and then move to more challenging techniques as you increase your lung capacity. Once you have cleaned your immediate space and are about to begin your work day, take 3 minutes to perform Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing.” This is the practice of inhaling and exhaling through the nose holding the same count. Start with four counts and increase the count when you are comfortable.
This isn’t just for the beginning of your work day either. This practice can be particularly useful in the immediate moments stress is experienced and felt. Are you in the middle of a grinding meeting with tensions rising, some possibly directed at you? Practice equal breathing to get you through it. Don’t risk reacting emotionally and embarrassing yourself. You can do this anytime – and some time – it may even save face.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This is an exercise you can do while you are at your desk. Tense each muscle group for a minimum of five seconds and relax it for up to 30 seconds. Start with your feet or face and go up or down all the muscles in your body. If you can, repeat the exercise for each muscle group.
If you are on your computer for hours at a time, take a minute or two to stretch and massage your hands throughout the day. This has multiple benefits and doing so repeatedly can improve circulation and your range of motion.
Take Physical Breaks
No matter how long your break is, getting up and getting into motion can work wonders to energize and refresh your mind. If you can’t go outside for a walk, take the stairs up or down several floors, or visit the hallway and circle some laps around it a few times. Do something, anything, as long as it breaks the routine of sitting and a stagnant mind.
Leave Your Work — at Work
Just as you got ready to go to work, get ready for the trip home as well. Ten minutes before you leave the office, get your mind ready for your home life. Think about what you’d like to do that evening, take some deep breaths, and meditate on it for a moment or two. A little healthy daydreaming is good for the soul.
Your Personal Time
Eat Something you Really Like
Indulging in something you really like can improve your mood, and eating healthy food can improve the mind. Just be mindful of not making indulgence in sweets and fast food a regular habit – the pounds can quickly add up and cause undue stress and health issues.
Learn a New Skill
Learning new skills keeps your brain sharp and focused and inhibits negative thoughts from creeping in.
Be More Social
Granted this could be hard for some people, but relationships and social connectivity matter. We are social creatures. Make a new connection with someone you don’t know every day – even if it is just to say hello and ask their name.
Playing a team sport, joining a book club or going to a movie with family or friends helps you relax and it feeds the human need to socialize.
Mindfulness is being aware of the moment and experiencing it while it’s happening. Whether you’re day dreaming, planning something or experiencing anxiety and negative thoughts, mindfulness works on getting rid of those behaviors. You are then free to engage with your environment as it is happening – while it’s happening.
With visualization, you can train your mind to take a journey to a place you want to be. Whether it’s the beach, the mountains or in the middle of the desert. It takes practice, but it is well worth the effort.
Autogenic Training or Relaxation
This teaches your body to respond to your verbal commands by associating visualization tactics that induce relaxation with physical postures and positions. The goal is to achieve deep relaxation and reduce stress by repeating words or suggestions that are physically felt. It requires a lot of practice – but practice makes perfect.
According to the Mayo Clinic, studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. Ask your spouse, kids or significant other to lend a helping hand.
Cuddling and Kissing
Cuddling and kissing are great ways to relax. A study at the University of North Carolina found that women who hugged their spouse or partner frequently (even for just 20 seconds) decreased their blood pressure because a warm embrace can possibly increase oxytocin levels in the brain.
Take a Bath
Taking a bath provides opportunities to relax, meditate and read. And it also improves circulation and gets your body physically ready for bed.
If you want to get rid of the stress built throughout the day, Yoga is a great option. There are many schools, practices and goals this ancient discipline provides. So take your time and find the right one for you.
Just like yoga, Tai chi is also an ancient discipline with many variations. It can start with gentle movements that emphasize the circulation of vital energy throughout the body, and progress to aggressive martial art techniques. Explore it as one of your stress relief options.
This is a primer to get you started on your way to a stress free life, so you can learn how to recover from a stressful day. It’s easier said than done. But if you don’t take action – any action – you will not experience any relief.
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