According to the American Institute of Stress, job pressure and money are the top causes of stress in America, with 61 percent of people reporting that work is their main source of stress. If you’re one of the millions of people who spend their evening hours untangling the tensions of the day, then you need to find a few simple ways to shed the stress and get back to a clear, happy state of mind. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Take a Hot Bath —A hot bath is the quintessential stress-buster, used for millennia to help heal just about every ailment. Take bath-time up a few notches with a luxurious bath bomb and a self-care playlist that gets you blissed out.
- Paint or Draw Something —A study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association showed that just 45 minutes of art-making reduced cortisol (a key stress hormone) levels in study participants, so bust out your art supplies and let your creative juices flow! You’ll be surprised at how fast you feel relaxed.
- Create Diamond Artwork — Doing crafts has the same effect as drawing or painting, helping you get your mind off things, and practice positive self-expression. A new type of crafting known as diamond art painting is one of the best ways to tap into a joyful flow of creative expression. Choose diamond art kits featuring relaxing scenes to help you completely and totally unwind.
- Go for a Long Walk — There’s no doubt about it: fresh air and sunshine are two of the best natural stress-zappers. Going for a long walk can help you physically and mentally unwind, especially after a particularly rough day.
- Cook Dinner — Cooking dinner isn’t just great because it leaves you with something healthy to eat, but also because it affords you an hour or more of screen-free time, and we all know that that means lower stress levels.
- Watch Something Funny — Hopefully, your Netflix queue is stocked with comedies and stand-up specials! Laughing joins exercising and creating art in the long list of well-proven stress-relievers, with studies showing that it releases endorphins, soothes muscle tension, relieves pain, and improves your mood.
- Go to Dinner with a Friend — Being around friends and family is another awesome way to boost your mood. The support of a close friend just listening or making you laugh can do wonders when you feel worried or strapped by tension.
- Take a Yoga Class — Yoga is one of the best exercises for calm-seekers looking for support of both mind and body. Going through a series of asanas (poses) and deep breathing can help ease tense muscles and reset your mind. Plus, like cooking, yoga is one of the best ways to take a break from tech and media for an hour at a time.
- Do a 15-Minute Meditation — Meditation is one of the best ways to lower those stress levels throughout the week. And, according to Harvard Health, the practice of deep breathing and inward thought has been shown to reduce some heart disease risk factors, including high blood pressure.
- Spend Time with Animals — Whether it’s volunteering at the animal shelter, stopping by the cat café, or cuddling up with your pup to binge watch Animal Planet, the effects are the same—pure joy! Spending time with furry friends helps boost feelings of love and happiness, which will effectively lower your stress.
- Listen to Music — We’re all tempted to get off work and immediately turn on a thought-provoking podcast or the news, but do your best to resist! Instead, play your favorite record or playlist from start to finish to try to get your mind off serious topics. If you have free time, consider making a de-stress playlist that contains an array of songs that help you sink into a state of relaxation.
- Get a Massage — If you believe that much of your stress is worsened or triggered by physical tension, one of the best things you can do is to get a massage. This is especially important if you have a physically demanding job or if you accumulate a lot of tightness in your back and shoulders while you work.
- Go to the Gym — Exercising is one of the most well-documented stress relievers there is, mostly because it provides a steady release of those happiness-boosting endorphins we all crave. Any physical activity, whether it be jogging, doing yoga, or lifting weights, will help smash your stress fast.
- Read — A healthy level of escapism is never a bad thing, so go ahead and indulge in a lighthearted novel. We’d recommend skipping the heavy nonfiction after work, especially if you’re prone to reading about politics or other stressful topics.
- Take a Long Drive—Hop in the car, blast the tunes and take a drive through the countryside. The car is the perfect place to work through some of your heaviest thoughts, especially since it (hopefully) keeps you from indulging in technology.
Take a Break from Tech, Do What You Love
As you can see from the above activities, going on a mini daily tech detox—that is: not looking at your phone or computer for an hour or two at a time—may be just what you need to shed some of that work-related stress. Spending time focused on something else entirely can help you get your mind off those worrisome workday woes while reminding you that there are more important things to life! Choose an activity that sparks joy and could turn into a permanent hobby that you can consistently turn to for some healthy decompressing.