Maintaining the work-life balance can be hard. It seems like we are working more than ever as the cost of living dramatically increases. It can be tempting to just push through and do only the bare minimum self-care before another long day of work. This is true whether you are working for someone else or sharing your passion though your own work.
But study after study has shown that we must care for ourselves or we can literally work ourselves to death. Restoring our energy levels and soothing our nervous systems are critical if we want to live long and healthy lives. And productivity is actually increased when we take enough time to renew and revitalize ourselves. Here are 10 ways to unwind after your word day.
1. Go Play
The most important thing you can do unwind after a long day of work is play. The body and brain need recreation, they need to engage in activities that are fun for you. Ideally this will be something that balances your work, and that you truly enjoy doing. For example, if you sit alone at a desk all day, join a recreational volleyball or football team. If your work is physical and group oriented, you might enjoy solving word puzzles or some other solitary mental activity.
Water has a particular power to restore our bodies and relax our nervous systems. Find your way into a body of water after work. This could be swimming laps at your fitness center or neighborhood pool, or relaxing in a hot bath at home.
3. Walk It Out
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress, but sometimes after a long day of work the last thing we want to do is go to a gym. A vigorous 30 to 50 minute walk can do wonders for your mental and physical health. Walk in a forest or park if you can to enjoy the relaxing effects of being in nature. And as walking stimulates the digestion and supports the functioning of the colon, your dinner will be that much more enjoyable after a good walk.
4. Happy Hour…Yoga
While some days you might feel like you need a good stiff drink, alcohol only depresses the body and will end up making you feel worse in the long run. But many yoga studios offer after work classes to help you unwind (literally) and find your peaceful center after a day of giving to others.
5. Restorative Yoga
If flowing yoga classes are not your thing, or you just need a deeply healing, restful break, try a Restorative Yoga class. Restorative classes are specifically designed to balance the autonomic nervous system, and they facilitate cellular relaxation. They can reduce insomnia, anxiety, overeating, and other stress-related disorders.
6. Throw Yourself at a Wall
Not literally, of course. Rock climbing is a great way to exercise, as it builds coordination, endurance, strength, and flexibility. And it engages the mind in a way that improves creativity and higher brain functioning, but does not involve looking at words or numbers (like most of our jobs).
7. Date Night
If you and your partner both work, it can be really easy to get into such a rut that your relationship stagnates. Make it a priority to do fun things together when possible, without the kids.
8. Partner Dance
Dancing is great way to enjoy some moderate exercise, fun music, and connection with other people. There are many different types of social partner dance that allow you to engage and play with a combination of structure and improvisation. Blues and Salsa tend to be the easiest for beginners to learn.
When we use our minds all day in our work, they can get spun out and overwhelmed. Then we are running in constant stress mode, because our minds are always overworking. Meditation teaches us to calm and focus the mind, training us over time to be more centered and present. Some of the top CEOs all over the world credit meditation as a key to their success, because of the increased peace and mental clarity it gives them.
10. Learn the Art of Doing Nothing
Sometimes it is okay to do absolutely nothing. Especially if your work and life are very frenetic. Taking a half hour or so to stare out the window, sit under a tree, or lie on your bed with your favorite music playing are great ways to let the body and mind unwind themselves. Great thinkers throughout history have said that their most profound inspirations came when they let their minds just wander and relax.
When we work hard it can be challenging to maintain balance. But for our health and longevity it is important that we take the time to nourish our bodies and minds with play, rest, exercise, and activities that are just for fun. At the end of our lives we will not be measuring our happiness by how many hours we worked, but by how much we enjoyed the ride.
About the Guest Blogger:
Ron McDiarmid, is the founder of My Healthy Living Coach. Having had health challenges along the way, Ron was keen to share the research and learning he gathered. Through MHLC this continued into a current presentation of healthy lifestyle choices and how to implement them. Check out his website at www.myhealthylivingcoach.com.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net