It seems like our lives just get busier and busier and more and more stressful. Most of us rely on coffee to “wake up”, something sweet to avoid the midafternoon slump and once at home, we reward ourselves with a not-so-healthy treat, because we feel that we deserve it after the day we have had. And, to top it off, we crash on the sofa with a bottle of wine and Netflix. Sound familiar? Self-medicating with alcohol and emotional eating are all too common in our society.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in all things in moderation and the above actually sounds like a fab evening, but recently I have been feeling like I have been trapped in a vicious cycle relying on simulates like coffee, sugar and alcohol to maneuverer the ups and downs of the week. The end result being that I wake frustrated with my lack of self-control and the cycle repeats itself.
Wellness and Self-care are the buzzwords of the moment. These may evoke images of indulgent soaks with essential oils and long meditation sessions, both of which are great ways of taking care of yourself. But, at times, it can be hard to know where and how to start taking care of ourselves. To help us in our quest I have put together a list of 5 simple day-to-day things to unwind from the stress of work, without reaching for the Häagen-Dazs and cracking open the Malbec.
5 self care tips to relax after work, without food or alcohol
1. Check your thinking
Are you giving yourself the chance to relax? When things get stressful, we often enter into a cycle of negative thoughts. Going over and over a problem in our brains raises stress levels and blocks problem-solving capabilities. Stop obsessing over the problem and give your mind time to relax and think about solutions and not focus on the problem. Granted, this is a lot easier said than done, but be conscious that negativity only brings negativity and try to take practical steps to not let this type of thinking dominate your life; This is the first step.
2. Seek out the green
Taking a walk in the park or in a green area works wonders. If a full on country walk is out of the question, choose the scenic route on the way home from work, even if it takes longer. A more pleasant walk is enough to disconnect from the stresses of the day and reconnect with yourself.
3. Get moving
During the week, I jump out of bed at the crack of dawn and head to the gym, I like to get my workout in first thing and tick it off my to-do list for the day. But even I, who hates training at night, have to admit that on the rare occasion that I end my day with exercise, a run, a yoga or dance class for example, I arrive home in a better frame of mind and I find it easier to switch off from the noise of the day. For me exercise at night has to be something pleasurable outside of my routine, but that is just me.
4. Take matters into your own hands
Stress over long periods means high levels of cortisol in your body, keeping your muscles poised and ready for that all important fight or flight reflex. Studies show that massage raises oxytocin and serotonin levels in the body, both of which lower blood pressure and give a feeling of overall wellbeing. If you don’t have time or money to spend on a professional massage, you can still reap the muscle relaxing benefits through self-massage. Search for tips and videos online.
5. Keep your house in order
Coming home from work to a messy house, raises stress levels. I’m not suggesting that we can all live in spaces that look like they belong on Pinterest inspiration boards (I wish), but leaving your home as organised and cosy as possible before leaving for work could contribute to a heightened feeling of wellbeing on arriving home. Just think about that fresh bed sheets clean pyjamas feeling and you’ll know what I mean!