10 After-Work Rituals to Help You Destress

By: Taylor Sicard

Most Americans are stressed, and their job is a big factor in that. Forty percent of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful and 25 percent view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. Even if you mostly like your job, you’re bound to have stressful days every once in a while. If you need help destressing once you leave the office, try one or all of the 10 tips below.

Spend some time outside.

If the weather is nice and you still have daylight, take advantage of it and spend some quality time with nature. Spending time outside will help boost your energy and mood and can revive you after a long day at work. Go for a walk around the block, read a book in the park or check out an outdoor concert. If you’re more athletic, you might be able to join a running club or a local sports team that plays outside. But don't forget to put a natural deodorant on your way out!

Get moving.

Yes, it’s tempting to come straight home and flop on the couch after a long day at work. But even if the weather isn’t good, or it’s already dark out, you should still get moving somehow—especially if you sit all day for work. Not only does exercise get you moving, it’s also one of the best stress relievers. If your office or apartment has a gym, take advantage of it and walk on the treadmill or lift some weights. If you don’t like to work out by yourself, check out which fitness classes are available near you or ask a friend to be your accountability buddy.

Make your space comfortable.

When you get home, make your space and yourself comfortable. Change out of your work clothes, put on some supportive tennis shoes, plug in your ambient lights and light some soy or coconut wax candles. While it may feel frivolous, this little routine will help you mentally make the shift from work to home and help you start relaxing after a long day. (Plus, who doesn’t love the relief of changing out of their work clothes?)

Set boundaries on doing work at home.

If you absolutely must work at home, decide ahead of time what you need to accomplish and when. For example, you might decide that you’ll check email and answer the most urgent ones from 8-9 p.m., and then at 9 p.m., you’ll shut things off and begin winding down for the night. If you can, try to work in a room other than your bedroom, since you don’t want your brain and body to start associating that space with work instead of sleep.

Cook a homemade meal.

Cooking at home teaches you a useful skill and counts as physical activity, not to mention it helps you eat healthier and reduce the amount of money you spend on food. Some people like to meal prep on weekends and simply reheat meals during the week, while others hate leftovers and prefer to cook new food each night. Choose some simple recipes that come together in 30-60 minutes and whip up one when you get home from work.

Drink some water.

It’s easy to remember to drink water while you’re sitting at a desk all day, but it’s less easy to remember it once you get home. Fill up your water bottle before leaving the office or right when you get home if you don’t like to carry a heavy bottle on your commute. Make a point to take small sips from it throughout the evening. Don’t chug a lot of water right before bed, though. You’ll have to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.

Do a positive journaling exercise.

Taking five to 10 minutes each evening to jot down your thoughts in a journal will help you reflect on your life and get your thoughts out of your head. No matter how bad your day was, push yourself to write down some nice things that happened to you or three things you’re grateful for. You can also look towards the future and write down three hopes or aspirations that you have for the coming days as well.

Socialize with your friends.

Spending time with close friends is good for you mentally, emotionally and physically. It can boost your happiness, reduce your stress and decrease your risk of health problems such as high blood pressure. While you probably won’t be able to hang out with friends every day after work, scheduling an outing once or twice a week can make a big difference. If your friends aren’t available for an in-person hangout, you can always call or Skype them to catch up long distance.

Try some quick meditation.

Many people find that meditation helps them calm down and recenter themselves after a long, stressful day at work. There are many meditation exercises you can look up online, including loving-kindness meditations and body scan meditations. You can also practice meditation during soothing activities such as yoga. To help you get in the right headspace, light some scented candles and put on some soothing white noise music.

Plan for the next day.

Prepping for your next day the night before can make your morning go much smoother and reduce your stress. Layout your outfit, pack your gym bag, get your lunch ready, fill out your to-do list and do whatever else you can in advance. While it may not seem like much, you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes when you roll out of bed.

In many cases, you can’t control whether or not your job stresses you out—but you can control what you do with that stress once you leave the office. Try one or all 10 of these after-work rituals to help you relax after clocking out.