I know a lot of you will be saying ‘I know how to wind down after work, I do have a brain’, but how many of us actually do it? It is so important to leave work with a clear mind and forget about what happened that day for the night and not to worry for the day ahead. Winding down is a very important part of my day, and I wanted to share with you the ways I like to wind down that really do work – a lot of these things others do so let’s get into it…
Read a Book
I mean read a paperback book, not an e-book on your iPhone or Kindle. Reading on a kindle is ‘OK’, but there’s something about being able to turn the page of a book physically – is that weird? There are many benefits to reading; knowledge gain, memory improvement, etc. – but the benefit I am putting emphasise on is Stress Reduction. No matter how much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life, it all just slips away when you lose one’s self in a great story. A well-written novel can transport us into other realms, while engaging in an article will distract us and keep us in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing us to relax, no matter what kind of book it is we are reading.
Listen to Music
There are times where music is the only thing that can relax me, but not just any kind of music. I like to listen to music that encourages Mindfulness and relaxation, so I use Spotify to search for different playlists with soft, relaxing music. Several studies have documented that people in waiting rooms, hospitals and other clinical environments show a decrease in heart rate when relaxing non-percussive music is present. Listening to music regularly can therefore help lower your blood pressure and heart rate. A lower heart rate will render a calmer self and can give us inner peace.
Keep a Journal
More and more research shows how important it is to intentionally put our thoughts down on paper. It’s helpful to see our thoughts on the page to recognize patterns or simply verbalize some of the things we are thinking. Writing down the things of worry can help to calm and clear our minds, to prepare us for sleep.
Writing in a journal can evoke mindfulness. There’s a strong connection between happiness and mindfulness. Journaling bring you into that state of mindfulness; past frustrations and future anxieties lose their edge in the present moment. I have to admit I am not the best journal keeper, but when I do write in my journal – I can tell the difference in how I feel.
Stretching or doing certain yoga moves can help you enjoy more restful sleep. It is an important part of the exercise regime. It helps reduce the chance of injury and improves blood flow to the muscles. Stretching exercises performed at night can help relax your muscles and prepare your body for sleep. They can relieve tension that builds up in your muscles throughout the day.
This is one of my favourites. It’s a good way to reflect on your day, order your thoughts, and pay attention to what is truly important to you. It helps you sleep better. Meditation cannot only help us better control out emotions and moods, but it can also help us sleep better at night. A University of Utah study found that “People who are reported higher levels of mindfulness described better control over their emotions and behaviours during the day. In addition, higher mindfulness was associated with lower activation at bedtime, which could have benefits for sleep quality and future ability to manage stress”. So turn off those phones at least an hour before bed to give you time to meditate and be mindful.
Make a Nest for the Night
The last thing to consider is the environment in which you unwind before bed, particularly lighting. Our bodies are wired to respond to light – if you’re exposed to brightness at night, your body will think this is a signal to stay awake. Make sure to lower the lights, light a candle in the hour before bed. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Does that mean I have to give up Netflix?” Unfortunately I have to say yes. Try to leave at least an hour before you aim to go to bed to sleep with no electronics. I have felt more relaxed and I am able to fall asleep a lot quicker, and sleep through the night making an effort to not look at my phone too late at night.
So there you have it! 6 Way that help me to wind down after a crazy-busy day that I’m sure you can use too.
“The best cure for the body is a quiet mind”
– Napoleon Bonaparte