10 Ways to Reduce Stress and Feel Calm After Work

Do you struggle to shut off work at the end of the day and carry that energy throughout the rest of the day? Not to worry – many do. It can be challenging to create a clear separation, especially mentally. That’s why it’s incredibly important to find your own way of releasing stress at the end of the workday.

I’ve pulled together some ideas to get you started!

We’ve all experienced that stressful day in the office that eats away any enjoyment for the rest of the night. It’s hard to be engaged at family dinner, we snap at our loved one with little confrontation, and the never-ending to-do list for tomorrow keeps you from a great night’s sleep. With the stress of the last year, this is becoming even more common.

By intentionally creating some simple habits to transition from work to life mode, you can reduce your stress in the evening and enjoy more relaxation.

Still working from home?

One of the challenges of working from home can be the separation of work and home life, or rather, lack thereof. When we don’t leave our environment and blend together our working and relaxing environments, it can be really hard to shut off from the day.

One of the extra tips I have for you is to try making clear transitions at the start and end of your work day. This could be as simple as walking around the block one time and “arriving back home.” It could also be something as simple as changing your outfit, actually closing down your laptop, or shutting the door to your office.

10 Ways to Release Stress After Work

I’ve gathered some of my favorite tips and tricks for releasing any stress and anxiety you’ve experienced throughout the workday in order to avoid carrying that energy throughout the evening. Take a look and make a commitment to try on of these this week:

Turn Up the Laughter

One of the most fun ways to reduce stress in your life is with laughter! When you laugh, you reduce the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in your body and amplify all the feel good hormones. This is why we get hooked on comedy sitcoms after a long day in the office.

If the sitcoms don’t do it for you, or you don’t want to dive into a full TV episode, keep a YouTube playlist of videos that are guaranteed to make you laugh – clips from your favorite comedians, silly animal videos, etc.

Do Gentle Stretching

Get out of your head and into your body with movement! Doing a cool down stretch after work not only feels great, but it also helps you to change your energy. By practicing gentle movement, such as relaxation yoga or a cooldown stretch, you relax the muscles and, in doing so, also relax the mind.

While stress in our mind can cause tension in the muscles (think tight shoulders), we can also take the cycle in the other direction. Stretching and releasing the muscles for a short time after a busy day can also trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, causing your mind to also relax.

Try Aromatherapy

Do you ever smell something and immediately sigh “aahhhhh?” Fragrances have been known to trigger memories, activate our emotions, and energize our senses. We can use this to our advantage with the use of aromatherapy to switch into resting mode.

While some fragrances are suggested to have calming effects, such as lavender or chamomile, I always suggest playing around with what works for you. It may be the smell of fresh laundry that drops you into serenity or the smell of flowers on your kitchen table that fills you with joy. Use this to your advantage and light candles or use essential oils to bring on rest mode.

Practice 4-7-8 Breath

Doing simple breathwork is a great way to activate the relaxation mode of your nervous system, thus relaxing your mind too. 4-7-8 breath is a practice that focuses on a heavy exhale, which helps you do just that.

To practice, take a big breath in while counting to 4, then hold your breath for a count of 7. Slowly, release your exhale for a long count of 8. Repeat this breath at least six times to feel the deep relaxation effects.

Dance It Out

Turn up the tunes and let’s get moving! Your favorite music can shift your mood in an instant, but adding some movement can take it one step further.

I love committing to just one song of silly dancing to shift my mood. All you need is 3-4 minutes and a playful heart. Jump around, sway your hips, and shake everything out! The more you shake, the more you release your muscles and encourage them to relax afterwards.

Listen to a Guided Meditation

Many people choose to start their day with meditation, but I find it can also be helpful to create better transitions throughout the day. Dropping into a guided meditation, such as this Serenity Sleep Meditation or Turn Off the Voices in Your Head Meditation, you release the busy energy of the day and allow yourself to intentionally step into a new vibe for the rest of the day.

Alternatively, you can practice your own version of meditation without the guidance, such as watching your breath for a few minutes or visualizing how you’d like the rest of the day to go.

Write Things Out

One of the reasons we have a hard time relaxing after work is because we aren’t able to shut down our brains completely. You may find yourself going over a list of everything that did or didn’t go correctly that day, what could be better, what needs to be done tomorrow, etc. Essentially, if you’re thinking about work, you’re mind if still on the clock.

One of the tricks to releasing these thoughts is by writing them down. Take out a journal at the end of each workday, or open a note tab on your computer, and make a quick note of all the things coming to mind – to do lists, irritations, strategy ideas. Dump it all and then you won’t fear forgetting any of it. You can check in with this list first thing tomorrow.

Get Playful

Turn off all that thinking and logic and transition into a playful energy. How? It’s surprisingly simple – play!

If you have little ones at home or pets, play with them. It’s easy to drop into a playful energy when you’re rolling around on the floor with a toddler or pup. You can also drop into this energy by playing a computer game, battling it out on a board game with your partner, or dancing around your living room to your favorite songs from childhood.

Take a Shower

Transition from your busy work day to a relaxing evening with a physical cleansing. By taking a quick shower after work, you can visualize the water washing away the stress of the day. Plus, the warm water will help your muscles to relax and naturally drop some of the tension you may be holding in the body.

Get Outside With Nature

Even just a few moments outside in nature can help you shift out of your work mindset and get you into the present moment.  Going for a walk or even standing barefoot in the natural landscape around you can help infuse your body, mind and soul with the refreshing energy of nature.  Take a moment to look at the trees, observe the flowers or feel the grass under your feet.  It quickly brings you to presence, gratitude and readies you for the moments ahead.

Bonus idea – mix aromatherapy and your shower by using calming fragrances while you wash off.

With these ideas in your back pocket, you can create a quick 5-20 minute transition routine that helps you turn off work mode and step into all the other versions of you – mom mode, rest mode, playful mode, creative mode – you name it.

After taking a look at this list, I’m curious – which idea are you excited to try first?

Taryn Raine