Maybe you have a busy day job, or you’re a parent raising a family (you might even fall under both of these!). Maybe you’re a student whose main focus is their studies and exams. Whatever the case may be, there is something all of us have in common – we all experience super long and tiring days at some point and it can be difficult to know how to “switch off” after a stressful day, especially if you are currently experiencing extra pressure.
For those of you who are currently working from home, it can be difficult to get out of the work mindset and allow yourself to fully relax. Relaxing may even seem like it’s just an optional extra, or even an impossibility.
However, allowing yourself to rest is much more than a luxury – it’s super important. If your mind is still racing when you go to bed, it’s going to make it hard for you to fall asleep, which is just going to make the next day that much harder again. So here are ten little tips to help you relax and unwind in the evening:
1. Go For a Walk
I get it, when you want to relax, exercising is probably the last thing on your mind. However, you don’t need to go jogging or hit the gym to feel the benefits – a simple walk will release endorphins, help you feel less stressed and aid you with getting a good’s night sleep. If you have a dog, it’s a perfect excuse to get outside and take a few deep breaths of fresh air. If you are able to get to a park or an area with green space then this is even better, as walks in nature can be especially relaxing. In fact, being outside in nature is something doctors highly recommend to help improve both physical and mental health.
2. Listen to Calming Music
One way of instantly changing your mood is listening to music. Music can help motivate us at the gym, enable us to focus at work, and even allow us to zone out when needed at home. Whether it’s chilled Ibiza classics or even ambient music, there’s guaranteed to be a playlist out there that will help you get into that comfort zone. And if music isn’t really your thing, there’s also plenty of amazing podcasts and audiobooks that may help you to relax and unwind too.
3. Get Some Small, Easy Tasks Checked Off Your List
If you’re someone who can’t properly settle down unless you’ve checked off some of your to-dos, this one’s for you. If you have any smaller jobs that need doing (such as writing tomorrow’s shopping list, washing the dishes, preparing your children’s school things), use a little time in the evening to get these things done whilst listening to some music or watching a chill TV show. Ticking those couple of jobs off your list will definitely help you feel like you’ve “earned” your chance to relax and unwind – just remember that you don’t need to work for or deserve time to rest, it’s a necessity and productive too!
4. Set Some Mood Lighting
Blinding Lights is great when it’s The Weeknd song, not so great when it’s a huge bulb above you giving you a headache. If you’re able to, dim your lights or switch to candles instead. Low lights will help your mind shift into “evening mode”, and induce your mind to get ready for sleep, whereas bright, artificial lights can disrupt your sleep cycle.
5. Spend Time With Your Pets
Do you have a pet? Playing with your pet can be a whole lot of fun for both you and them, and it doesn’t have to be anything strenuous either. Spending 5-10 minutes playing with your pet can help lower your stress levels. If you’re feeling burnt out and don’t have much energy, simply watching your pet play can help you to relax and unwind too. If your pet enjoys cuddles, have a snuggle with them on the sofa and watch your favourite show. Research has proven that petting animals can help lower the stress hormone cortisol, as well as lowering your blood pressure.
6. Start a Gratitude Journal
Had a tough day? It’s easy to end up feeling frustrated or even angry about things that might have gone wrong – but obsessing over it definitely isn’t going to help you relax. Rather than focusing on the negatives, it can be helpful to redirect our attention on the good things that have happened too. Try to come up with three things that have happened during the day that you are grateful for. They could be really small things, very big things, or something that is completely individual to you. The act of writing these things down can be soothing, and it’s also a great way of reflecting back on those little moments. You might want to keep a notebook next to your bed so you can jot these down right before sleep if your brain is feeling particularly overactive.
7. Enjoy a Hot Bubble Bath
Sometimes there really isn’t anything better than a nice long soak in a hot bath. Water has long been used to ease aching muscles, and it works wonders for stress too. Hot water can also help you get ready for sleep – take things up a notch by adding some essential oils to your bath; lavender works a treat! If you haven’t got a bath, taking a long hot shower and using relaxing scents can also provide plenty of benefits.
8. Snuggle Under a Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets are still very popular, and it’s not hard to see why! Research has shown that weighted blankets are great for both emotional and physical regulation, which is essential after a trying day. If you find a weighted blanket too hot or constricted to sleep under, you might still enjoy snuggling under one in the evenings with a good book or whilst watching TV. The gentle pressure of the blanket can help soothe the stress of the day – a bit like being wrapped in a warm hug.
9. Practice Some Meditation
Don’t worry, you don’t have to sit in a lotus flower pose or chant “ohm” to meditate. There are lots of different ways of practicing meditation, whether by following a YouTube video, listening to a podcast or simply sitting in a comfy chair with a heated eye mask on. According to scientists, meditation has the ability to alter the paths in your brain. By doing that, meditation can help you cope with stressful situations and help you shift your mindset after a hard day.
10. Avoid Looking at Your Phone
It’s probably one of the hardest things to do, and it’s definitely something the majority of us should try to work towards, but avoiding our phones late in the evening can truly help. Studies have shown that using your phone too close to bedtime can seriously disrupt our sleep, thanks to its artificial blue light and the fact that you’re constantly “connected”. And if you’re one of those who likes to scroll through social media last thing at night, this has a big impact too. Your mind can stay active and engaged long after you’ve scrolled through Instagram or caught up with your emails. There’s also the chance that you may see something online that upsets you or causes intense feelings. Unsurprisingly, the stress and anxiety this can cause can have a seriously negative affect on our sleep.
How do you like to unwind in the evening?
For me personally, nothing beats a deliciously-scented candle, some mood lighting and a TV show I can properly get into! I’m always snuggling up to my pet cat too, which really comforts me. If you’re struggling with relaxing at the moment, I hope at least one of these tips will be able to help you get into that zone.