We’ve all had our long days at work. There are periods wherein one is expected to stay for more than the required 9 hours in the office.
There are times when people from the head office come to visit, adding to the stress of your daily routine. Sometimes, issues simply crop up during the day, making the 9 hours seem more like 24!
During times likes these, all you probably want to do is go home, jump right into bed, and try to forget what has happened during the day. In doing this, however, you couldn’t be more wrong!
How many times have you gone home dead tired, and then gone to bed, only to find out that your mind is racing like the Energizer bunny. This can keep you up for hours even if your body is screaming for the sweet release of slumber!
In order for you to get rid of the stress that your long day at work has given you, you ought to de-stress or relax for a bit before hitting the sack. Here are some tried and tested methods by which you can chill for a while, and prepare your mind and body for a restful night’s sleep.
1. Get into something comfortable
Comfort is the name of the game. If you’re a woman, your feet are probably killing you, especially if you walked around in high heels all day. Even if you do not wear killer shoes, having to wear formal or semi-formal clothes for work can have a stressful effect.
The moment you get home, grab your most comfortable pieces of clothing. Jogging pants, nightdress, night shirt, T-shirt, shorts – it doesn’t matter; as long as you’re comfortable, you’re off to a good start.
2. Turn down the lights
Your home does not have to look and smell like a professional spa, but adding certain touches will help you relax. If you have mood lighting, turn it on. Alternatively, you can light some scented candles to soften the atmosphere. Lavender is a good scent to use as it is supposed to help soothe your senses.
3. Get some music on
More than the light and aroma, add some background music. Forget rap, rock, or hip hop. Even if that’s the kind of music you normally listen to, you need something else at this point. Go for classical music. You can even buy CDs or download music that is specifically meant for relaxation purposes. Make sure you these handy in case you need extra relaxation when you get home from work.
4. Get something to eat
Some people mistakenly think that since they are too tired to eat, they shouldn’t make the effort. They also think that since they are going to bed soon anyway, there is no point in eating. However, if you are already feeling so drained, the chances are that your body is also calling out for sustenance.
If you try to ignore the hunger and force yourself to sleep, the chances are that you will not be relaxed anyway. The trick is to prepare a light meal that will fill you up (but not too much). Soup is always a good idea as it is filling and light at the same time. Even better, there are a lot of soup products which do not take much effort to prepare. TIP: Always keep some cans of soup handy for “emergencies.”
If you work a desk job, then your body is probably crying out for some release by the end of the day. Do some light stretching exercises when you get home to get your blood flowing. However, stay away from heavy exercise as it will probably keep you up even more.
6. Prepare a hot bath
Nothing melts away stress – both physical and mental – like a long hot bath. A hot shower will also do, if you do not have a bath tub. The idea is for you to relax in the warmth of the water. If you’re filling a tub with water, go for aromatherapy bath bombs or bubble baths. Again, lavender will give you that extra relaxing effect.
7. Prepare your sleeping area
This could be the bedroom or the living room – it does not matter. What matters is that where you will be sleeping is comfortable and conducive to rest. This means that the lights should be out, that the bedding is soft and clean, and that there is proper ventilation.
If you need to use the air conditioning, then turn it on 30 minutes or so before actually going to bed. This will cool the room down sufficiently. Avoid noise and light that can distract you as you further relax and sink into sleep.
8. Do some breathing exercises
It may sound ironic, but relaxing sometimes takes effort. I learned this from a yoga instructor, who taught me how to do some breathing exercises to calm myself down. At first, I was a bit skeptical but after rhythmically breathing for several minutes, I could feel my mind relaxing and my heart beat slowing down.
There are a lot of breathing exercises which you can do, but a simple one is to inhale through your mouth and exhale through your nose. Breathe deeply and slowly, and make an effort to do so at regular intervals. Before you know it, you will be calmer than when you first walked through your door.
9. Do some light reading
If you have been lying in bed for more than 30 minutes, and you still can’t fall asleep, get up! Don’t force it! Hours can easily slip by if you just lie there trying to sleep. Instead, do some light reading that will take your mind off work or other things that are bothering you.
10. Stay away from the television or the phone
Watching TV might seem like a good idea, but in fact, it only stimulates you even more. As for the computer, you’ve probably stared at the monitor all day, why would you want to stare at it when you get home? Do something else instead – write, read (as mentioned above), or meditate!
Long and hard days at work cannot be avoided, but with the right after-work activities, you can de-stress and replenish your energy levels for another day.
The editor of Ethical Living, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.