Leave Stress out the Door: 5 Ways to Unwind after a Long Day
A quick breather at Waikiki Beach sounds nice. Even a scant 2 days of warm sun, soothing waves and beachside cocktails can rejuvenate the most burned-out career mom.
But flying off on an unplanned vacation is like winning the Powerball. Between work, your kids’ soccer practice, and never-ending household chores, you’d be lucky enough to cram in 10 minutes of yoga on a hectic day.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can only unwind on an exotic island or an upscale spa retreat. There are plenty of ways you can boost your everyday well-being without taking the day off or breaking the bank. If you always find yourself slow and lethargic after work, try these practical pointers we’ve compiled to refresh your nerves.
1. Do what makes you happy
And by that, we don’t mean shopping and finding 6pm promo codes or end-of-season sales. All women have at least one hobby or pastime apart from retail therapy. If you want to immediately lift your mood, find out what makes you happy and do it.
It can be something as simple as a Sudoku puzzle to watching Youtube clips of kittens. If it’s gardening, bring your green thumb anywhere by surrounding yourself with plants. Need to rejuvenate at work? Grow a bonsai tree and set aside time for trimming its manicured stems each day. Into fashion? Do some online window-shopping or play virtual dress-up doll on Facebook or any number of Flash sites.
You can even pass your hobby on to your children. I got my talent for words from my mom, who loved doing crossword puzzles as a way to unwind after a hard day at Bell Telephone. My husband earned his mechanical skills not from some vocational college but from his dad and his weekend passion for pony cars. It’s a good way to refresh your mind while bonding with your kids and teaching them a new skill set.
2. Wipe the stress from your face and mind
You might think that stress is purely psychological, but it has physical aspects that can manifest themselves on your face and body. In fact, women are more prone to suffer from the physical side of stress, largely because of their body chemistry and how they are wired differently from men.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the physical effects of stress include menstrual irregularities and itchy rashes all the way to eating disorders and disruptions in one’s sleeping pattern. And of course, there’s the visible and lasting toll it can take on your face, such as premature wrinkles, crow’s feet and skin problems like eczema and psoriasis.
Face masks, creams and moisturizers are some of the everyday remedies that help you combat the stress toll and onset of aging. Allow the cold cream on your face to rejuvenate not just your skin cells, but to take your mind away from office-related baggage and looming deadlines. For a brief moment, let go of all concerns and allow the stuff to do its job of soothing your face, body and mind.
3. Practice mindful meditation
When you hear the word “meditation”, you instinctively think hours of yoga and chanting to achieve a state of Zen. But this isn’t necessarily the case.
Mindful meditation is using each quiet moment to calm your mind and body. This meditation technique is unique in that, rather than trying to reach a higher state of consciousness and escape from everyday life, it helps you appreciate the present and take pleasure in each moment.
Let’s say you’re dicing up carrots in the kitchen. Instead of treating it as another mindless task, put a steady rhythm to each cut. Listen to the crunch, smell the aroma and let each chop lull you into a peaceful state. By using your daily activities as a chance to meditate, you find bliss in what you previously deemed to be thankless chores. This will go a long way in lifting your emotional baggage and letting you live a longer, more satisfying life.
4. Give yourself a me-ssage
Nope, that wasn’t a typo, and you don’t need to be a contortionist or have an extra pair of hands. All you need is a couple of tennis balls placed in a tube sock to give yourself a rubdown.
Lie on the floor or in bed, placing the sock under your lower back and the balls on each side of your spine. Then roll your body back and forth toward your head and feet. This movement puts you in a relaxed state and allows the balls to knead your sore muscles and lumbar area.
Your back isn’t the only part of your body that deserves some much-needed attention. Most women don’t realize that their lower jaw has a tendency to tense up in stressful situations. According to Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, co-director of the Washington DC-based Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, regular clenching of the jaw muscles can lead to hypertrophy, where muscles on the side of the cheek thicken and change facial outline. Dr. Tanzi recommends relaxing your jawline in tense situations, keeping your chin up and gently rubbing the jaw muscles under the ear when applying moisturizer.
5. Redo your daily routine
If you find yourself stuck in a rut doing the same things every day, then its time snap out of it. Remap your daily tasks by doing things in a different order, trying something new, or discarding a boring routine.
Dan Baker, a noted psychologist and author of What Happy Women Know, says that even a slight change in your schedule can bring big benefits. Changing the order in which you eat, watch TV and take a shower can make a huge difference in your mood. Since your mind gets used to the typical routine, simply re-arranging these mundane tasks can refresh your brain and uplift your mood by not anticipating what happens next. After all, every day is a blessing – it only takes the right mindset to recognize the little joys in everyday life.