10 Ways to Mentally Refresh After a Stressful Day

Many of us take our jobs home with us without realizing it. Work may be stressful, but when we're supposed to be relaxing—from the minute we walk out of the office until the next morning when we come back—we often let job stress seep in instead of making the most of our non-work lives.

Here are 10 quick, easy, free ways to mentally refresh after a stressful day at work.

1. Write down your thoughts.

Although this may seem daunting to some, journaling your thoughts can actually release a lot of stress by serving as an escape. Start by writing down anything that's on your mind- worries, anxious thoughts, etc. Getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper can actually help you understand them more clearly and help you gain control of your emotions. Journaling can also help with gratitude and your ability to recognize what’s truly important in your life. This is the first step if you’re asking yourself how to unwind and relax.

2. Listen to your favorite music

Throw on your favorite playlist. Whether you're on a walk, unplugging from social media, or journaling, listening to music can help brighten up your day. Research shows that music can also help slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure. When listening to music, you’ll unwind and find your daily chores less demanding.

3. Get some fresh air

Spending time outside has several benefits for our mental health:

  • Boost vitamin D: The sunlight gives you boost of vitamin D, which is scientifically proven to boost your mood.
  • Get a fresh perspective: Sometimes simply feeling a gust of wind on your cheeks can help awaken your senses and open your mind. Fresh air helps to send plenty of oxygen through the blood and allows your lungs to work at full capacity. 
  • Improve mood: The simple act of looking at the color green can help you feel better. One study found that we associate the color green with happiness, comfort, hope, excitement, and a sense of peace. 

4. Unplug from social media

It’s hard in the world we live in today to unplug from our social media because it feels like we’re unplugging from the entire world. But sometimes, that’s ok! As much as social media is an amazing, creative platform it can be detrimental to our mental health. It’s acceptable to take time off your phone and shut off for a while.

5. Do a guided meditation

Meditation can be hard when you are feeling stressed, but having someone guide you through it makes it a lot more relaxing. Breathing is a key part here, as using slow and controlled breaths help calm your nervous system, as opposed to quick, uncontrolled breaths naturally makes you feel more stressed. Try this 5-minute guided meditation from Headspace. Or check out one of these other mindfulness apps for those moments when you need to calm down.

  • Calm
  • Headspace
  • The Mindfulness App
  • Mindfulness Daily
  • Smiling Mind

6. Spend some time with family or friends

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, give your loved ones a call. Or even better, go and spend time with them. Even if you don’t want to talk, being in the presence of family and friends can instantly make you feel more relaxed and safe. 

7. Take a bubble bath

Taking a bath after a stressful day can help you relax both physically and mentally. To add even more ambiance, you can light candles, play relaxing music, or read a book.

8. Read a book

Throw yourself on the couch with a good book and get lost in the pages. Try choosing a genre that will completely take your mind off everything else, like fiction, true crime and thrillers, or mystery.

9. Take a nap

Sometimes all we need is a short 30-minute nap to reset! A nap is like a restart button for life.

10. Exercise

It’s a proven fact that exercising refreshes your mind as it releases endorphins that make you feel good and reduce stress. Going to the gym, doing yoga or even going for regular walks definitely helps in making you feel better after a hectic day. In fact, stretching your muscles can ease all the tension.

Unwinding is easier said than done. Oftentimes we can't seem to calm down, no matter how much we tell ourselves to. Dedicating time to stop, take a second, and breathe, is sometimes all it takes to help ourselves start to relax. The next time you're feeling like you've had a long, hard day, try one or more of these relaxation techniques. They're quick, easy, and best of all- free.