You just finished work and have mustered the energy to make it to your sofa and park yourself there for the rest of the evening. Your body is tense, and you can’t help but replay everything that’s gone wrong today.
Sound familiar? 79% of the U.K population report feeling so overwhelmingly stressed at least once a month that they don’t feel they can cope. Stress at work could be caused by a number of things, including meeting deadlines, confrontation, finances, or increased workload. Even more shocking, 30% of Britons report this overwhelming stress happens at least ten days a month.
With the pandemic still very much affecting our lives, stress has only gotten worse in the past two years.
With the threat of reaching burnout, it is vital to handle your stress levels where you can. This doesn’t necessarily mean combating stress at work, but also thinking about your down time.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do at the end of a tough day to overcome your stress and relax.
Stress is hurting your body
Stress creates a vicious cycle in the body. First, it causes negative symptoms, which causes stress, which causes further damage to the body and so on and so forth.
It is crucial to break the cycle to repair your body and learn to build resilience to stress. Some of the negatively impacting physical symptoms of stress include high blood pressure, migraines, digestion issues and cardiac illnesses.
All is not lost, though. There are plenty of ways to reduce your stress daily to help combat these issues.
When you are stressed, your body releases extra adrenaline alongside another hormone called cortisol. Together in excess, these hormones cause a lot of the unpleasant physical symptoms stress creates.
To combat this, exercise has been scientifically proven to reduce these two hormones in the body.
So any cardio or weight training exercise you enjoy will help you to burn off the anxiety and stress that follows a stressful day. Perhaps try to exercise before or after work. Many of us now are working from home, so a lunchtime run or walk may be an option.
Not only that, but stress causes muscle tension and pain. If left unchecked, you leave yourself prone to injury and stress relapse. This is because there is a connection between stress's physical and mental causes, and one can set off the other.
So, for example, if your shoulders are constantly tensed from being stressed, eventually, the shoulder tension can also trigger feelings of stress in the mind.
That’s why it’s also important to incorporate exercises such as yoga, pilates, and stretching into your routine to help release your muscle tension and stop stress in its tracks.
Have a nice meal
Yes, food is for nutrition. But it also has an emotional component that cannot be denied.
Sometimes, there is nothing better than a warm, lovingly made meal that reminds you of home and makes you feel safe to help you deal with a stressful day.
Making your meal from scratch also provides a session of mindfulness as the act of cooking requires being present in the moment, making cooking a therapeutic experience.
And having something to look forward to at the end of the day gives you the strength to push past stressful moments.
Squeeze the stress away with a cuddle
Hugs are one of nature’s most underutilised defences against stress.
A good cuddle that lasts at least 20 seconds releases a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone is also released during childbirth and is responsible for improving mood, reducing stress, and minimising the feeling of pain.
Hugs also serve as an important reminder of the safe support system you have around you. Because it is essential to know that while stress is personal, you don’t have to tackle it alone.
You can even take this cuddle time to talk about your feelings and share your thoughts in a safe environment.
And a hug isn’t limited to friends and family either. If you live alone and have a pet, cuddling with them will have the same stress-reducing effect as hugging a human being.
So get those arms outstretched and hug your way to overcoming your stressful day.
Journals are like free therapy sessions that you can take with you wherever you go and doesn’t require anyone else.
After a challenging day, there are no doubt hundreds of thoughts, feelings, and emotions swirling around in your head. It’s exhausting!
But you don’t have to lock them in your mind. Instead, you can release your stress onto the pages of your journal and share the burden.
Imagine your pen as an extension of your arm. The stressful thoughts travel from your brain, down your arm, and exit via your pen, trapping the stress on the pages of your journal.
It’s liberating to unburden your mind from the stress that seems hard to overcome. In releasing your stress onto the page, you may also start to detect patterns and triggers for your stress that will help you prevent some future stressful occasions.
Create a relaxed environment and chill out
What’s better after a stressful day than to simply sit back and unwind?
Take the opportunity to create a chilled ambience that feels warm and safe to help you take your mind off your challenging day.
Curl up on your sofa with your favourite book or put a film or tv show you enjoy on the TV and embrace the joy and stillness.
And if you want, add a small glass of red wine to the mix. Studies show that some red wines have antioxidant effects that promote heart health and decrease cholesterol when drunk in moderation.
Make sure that you fill your evening with all the small things that give you pleasure, and remember to stay in the moment.
Stressful days at work happen, often through no fault of our own. Rather than beat yourself up over a bad workday, take the evening to pause and heal. Tomorrow starts a new day and a fresh page in your life story.
And remember, as bad as it feels in the moment, stress doesn’t last forever. By taking the time to care for yourself with the strategies listed above, you can overcome any stress the day throws your way!