At the end of the day, I separate things; my life is my life, and my work is my work.Stella McCartney
When work is crushing us with demands, when the evening news only adds to our anxiety, and our blood pressure rises as we scroll through our Facebook feed, we have to take charge of all the stressors targeting our hearts and minds. Especially now, as many of us are still working at home, and our evening commute takes only seconds to walk from one room of the house to another, we need a better break to end the work day and begin our evening at home.
How can we incorporate a few rituals or routines to help us achieve a sense of accomplishment from our work and gently transition us into the evening with our family or ourselves? Unfortunately, even mindless routines we once employed to disconnect or unwind can feel toxic now. Let’s be intentional to give ourselves a little hug of self-care at the end of the day. Here are a few end of workday rituals to show ourselves some love!
Literally. Put your phone away or turn it to silent. Don’t look at work email again. Don’t answer work-related calls or texts. Even consider shutting off social media if you truly want to unplug. One way to break the tap-reflex on your social media apps is to take them off your home screen altogether, or at least move them to another page or folder out of immediate view. At minimum, consider setting your phone elsewhere during your dinner hour, whether you’re with your family or solo.
Turning to Music.
Experiment with different playlists for different moods. Try something fun and upbeat you can turn up and dance to! Other days call for some background music. Classical Beethoven or Chopin can take the edge off like a virtual glass of wine. Mix it up! Consider tickling your ears with something that positively impacts your mood and atmosphere. Here are some fun summer playlists from Spotify to get you started.
Get up and get out of the office! Take a jog, hit the gym for an evening workout, walk your dog, or try short yoga or stretching videos at home. Even brief evening stretching and movement can instantly release muscle tension, interrupt mental streaming, increase circulation and kickstart deeper breathing. Here is a two minute YouTube video of Three Stretches for People Who Sit All Day. If you have others you like, please share them in the comments! I’d love to try them too.
Even if you are working from home, consider dressing “business casual” for your day at the computer, then change into something more leisurely for dinner or evening relaxation. One thing I’ve noticed with all the staying at home these days is how easy it is to LIVE in pajamas. The first time I threw on some cute jeans, heels, and a little jewelry last week to go out for lunch, I felt like a million bucks. Clearly, it has been a while!
Engage in Hobbies.
Sometimes a simple change from sharp mental focus and screen time to tactile activities like crafting, cooking or tending to your plants and flowers can be just transition you need. It gets us moving a bit and engages the pleasure sensors in our brain. Curling up with a good book for fun, turning on an audio book or tuning into podcasts can also take you a million miles away from the media, viruses, and other debates of the day.
Set Aside True Down Time.
One of the best self-care rituals we can do for ourselves is to establish regular quality sleep. There are many routines you can try to see what works best for you. Some of them include dimming the lights, lighting candles, turning off screens, cuddling with my dog, taking a warm bubble bath, turning on a diffuser of lavender oils, lowering the thermostat, and bedtime meditation. Pick one or two and see how they melt away the stressors of the day and prepare your mind and body for restful sleep.
Show yourself some self-care and love. Even if your evening is filled with children, cooking, and cleaning, and especially then, do what you need to do to take care of yourself. It can mean 15 minutes alone in your bedroom before you come out to manage evening responsibilities and likely 15 minutes more after they have all gone to bed. For some of my friends with families, their favorite time to unwind is after the children have gone to bed and they can watch their “guilty pleasure” shows on TV, read a book, or do whatever they please.
Unwinding and finding true relaxation is not a luxury; it is imperative for your good health. Regardless of your roles and responsibilities, take care of yourself, turn everything else off, and breathe. You deserve it, my friends!