Create a Stress Recovery Routine with These 5 Habits
How to Relieve Stress After a Long Day
If you’re reading this, today might not have been exceptionally kind to your mental health. Daily stressors are normal, but when they pile on and you’re not able to take the time to recoup, it can create a negative headspace that bogs you down and makes even the smallest task seem daunting.
Making time for yourself to recover after a long day is the first step toward developing healthy stress management skills. A good rule of thumb after any stressful situation is to create a space where you can slow down, but we have 5 stress-relieving habits that work well together as a holistic stress recovery routine if you’re looking for a place to start.
1. Take Time to Work Out
It may sound counterintuitive if stress leaves you feeling exhausted, but according to Mayo Clinic, nearly any form of exercise can help combat both the mental and physical effects from stress. Exercise can boost your mood by improving endorphin production as well as improve sleep quality and even help with occasional feelings of anxiousness.
This doesn’t mean go run a mile (but if you want to, do that thing!). You can do something small like taking a brisk walk outside or even stretch it out with a simple yoga routine. You can also go for a bike ride and explore more outside, or for fellow fitness fiends—do your favorite workout circuit that always leaves you feeling good afterwards.
2. Slow Down with Breathwork
You don’t have to be a woo woo guru to learn about breathing exercises or even meditation (although you should definitely practice respectfully and appreciate its roots). These practices bring a plethora of stress-busting benefits like increasing oxygen to the brain and promoting a sense of calm for the mind, but one of the main reasons we enjoy breathwork in particular is to divert our thoughts from our worries for a short while.
The goal of breathwork is literally to slow our breathing and heart rate. There are hundreds of ways to practice but one of the easiest methods is the 4-7-8 technique.
How to Do the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
- Inhale through your nose and count to 4
- Hold your breath and count to 7
- Slowly exhale all the way through your mouth by making a small “O” shape with your lips while counting to 8
- Repeat 3 more times
It’s no cure, but the 4-7-8 technique can be done anywhere and can help you slow down even when everything around you feels like it’s spiraling out of control.
3. Listen to Music That Calms You Down
This one is pretty flexible because we all like different kinds of music, but if you have an artist, genre or playlist that really helps mellow you out, slam that play button.
Music is a universal language that can make us feel different emotions. Some of us love instrumental or classical music to help calm down, some of us enjoy smooth jazz or lo-fi beats to relax to and some of us even find comfort in heavy metal… which is also awesome but probably not scientifically backed… yet.
Regardless of what music settles your mind, go ahead and turn on the tunes that make you feel bliss. If music isn’t your thing, try listening to pre-recorded nature sounds like ocean waves and let your mind drift away to wherever your getaway is.
If you live by the beach, just go outside and know that we’re all jealous.
4. Find an Outlet for Stress Like Art Therapy
Since stress is a hormone that manifests as an emotion or feeling, creating something tangible is an effective outlet to confront your stressors and let them go.
Art therapy is a way to cope with stress and feelings of anxiousness by drawing, painting or any kind of thoughtful creation. The best part is you don’t have to be an artist to enjoy the benefits of art therapy and there really isn’t a right or wrong way to do it.
These practices can reduce cortisol levels and take your mind off what’s troubling you. When you’re done, you have a physical expression of how you’re feeling that you can either hold onto or get rid of (whichever feels right for you).
5. Go to Bed Early
Stress can cause a great deal of mental and physical exhaustion, so going to bed early helps give your brain and body a head-start to recovering. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep to lower cortisol levels and help bring more balance to your mood. Don’t try to force yourself to sleep earlier if you’re not tired, but if you feel like you could pass out at any minute, don’t fight it—listen to your body’s signals that it needs more rest.