After a long day of classes, work, socializing, and just dealing with life in general (especially in college), finding the perfect way to unwind can be harder than it seems. Most people turn to Netflix and munch on a big bag of chips, however that type of vegetation can actually be more detrimental to your mental and physical health than you think and cause you more stress in the long run. Here are eight healthier ways to relax.
Go For a Walk
Get away from your home/dorm room and find a patch of nature. Find a bench or a tree to lean on and just breathe in the nature around you. Learning to engage your senses in a natural environment can relax your body and mind. Do not spend this time on your phone – disconnect from your busy life for a while, at least ten minutes, and clear your mind from your daily responsibilities and instead focus on your breathing and senses.
Take a Nap
While this might be more of a mid-day way to unwind, naps can really help turn around your stressed or unhappy mood. It can help rejuvenate the body and clear the mind. Take a maximum twenty minute catnap (nothing more than 30 minutes!) or else you’ll fall into deep sleep and feel groggy.
Some people find it relaxing to write down their day. Whether you’re writing down what made your day difficult or triumphant, it’s been found that journaling is a positive way to deconstruct your day. Lisa Kaplin, PsyD, is a life coach and she suggests journaling as a method of stress management. It can be multiple pages of pouring out your soul, or just a line or two about your day. However, if it becomes more of a task than a reliever to maintain a journal, skip it; it could just create more stress to keep doing it if it’s not something you have your heart in.
Make a To-Do List (Or Any List)
Some people find that a helpful way to destress is to prepare themselves for the next day or the rest of the week. If time management is difficult for you take a few minutes to write down what homework or tasks you need to finish this week, errands you need to run, groceries you need to get, etc. Writing your must-dos down forces you to get organized, but also it allows you to put a pause on the present and whatever is stressing you out right now. Having everything written down is a physical way to download information you’re trying to remember inside your head onto paper. You can even make a list of what is stressing you out, and that will create a real space to figure why something is stressing you out, and how you can fix it.
Do Some Breathing Exercises
As silly as this might sound initially, sitting or lying down and focusing on your breathing can really help clear your mind and help you think more clearly. Taking deep breaths slows down the heart rate and calms the body. Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, your stomach rising and falling, and concentrate on your body and how it feels, ignoring outside distractions.
Stretch your Body
Stretching, or even doing some light yoga, before bed relaxes the body and can clear the mind of an overly stressful day. Regardless of your level of yoga or flexibility, stretching can help with relieving stress throughout the body. Many people carry stress in their shoulders and backs, causing them to develop sloped shoulders and poor posture. Fitness Magazine and Shape both have some good stretches to help with these problems.
Have a Cup of Tea
It’s been found that having a hot drink can make you friendlier, according to The Guardian. An experiment done by the University of Colorado Boulder found that the participants who held a warm drink rather than a cold one tended to have a warmer personality and reacted better when introduced to someone. Along with this, the process of preparing a warm drink, and then holding and drinking it can help relax your mind and help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Talk to a Friend
Regardless if you’re more of an extrovert or introvert, talking to a friend or someone you’re comfortable with can help you unwind. Going out to get a cup of coffee, fruit smoothie, or even staying in and just chatting on your couch can be one of the best ways to help you stop worrying about your day and let go of whatever is bothering you. You could talk to them to work through your stresses, or just use that time with them to focus on anything else going on in your life and put a pause on your stresses. If you need a distraction from your own stress it can also be nice to refocus your attention and ask them how they are doing.
The Daily Mind has a list of 100 ways to relax and unwind at the end of a long day. The best thing is to find what works for you. While one person might find that hitting up the gym is her best way to unwind, that might not really be your style, and that’s okay! You might find that rereading a favorite book is your best way to calm down. Another person’s might be meditation. Find whatever works for you and relax for the rest of the evening.
Image: Jay Mantri