If you're reading this from somewhere in the United States, there's a good chance you're stressed right now.
Did you know that Americans are some of the most stressed people in the world?
A Gallup poll recently found that 55% of Americans feel extremely stressed on any given day, compared to 35% across the rest of the world. (1)
It's hard to de-stress when your material conditions are the problem -- like toxic family members, bills, and hardship.
However, you can learn how to unwind on a daily basis to help remove some of the built-up stress from your mind and body.
How to Master the Art of Unwinding from Stress at the End of the Day
Figuring out how to unwind is truly an art.
Habits come naturally. Change, even when positive, is a massive challenge.
Start with the minor changes below and work up to a full unwinding session every evening after the day is through.
Workout Immediately After Work
Exercise is one of the best ways to improve mental health and well-being because it tells your brain to release reward hormones and endorphins like serotonin and dopamine. (2)
If you're new to exercise, aim towards getting your heart rate up for about a half-hour. That's all it takes.
Cardio is great. However, weightlifting and kickboxing are some of the best workouts for stress relief (for obvious reasons).
Follow Up Your Workout with a Yoga Class and Meditation
Every workout needs a good stretch. Why not try yoga?
Studies show that yoga can help improve blood flow and might improve mental health. (3)
If you can't make it to a yoga class, schedule some time in a quiet place of your home and use YouTube for guidance.
Meditation is also important. Practicing Zen for ten minutes a day can work wonders clearing your mind and improving gratitude.
Spend Some Time Outdoors
After a stressful day indoors, a half-hour outside is just what you need to de-stress!
Studies show that as little as 20 minutes outdoors can reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels. (4)
Outdoor exercises like bike rides and walks are great but you can spend your time just sitting and enjoying the scenery too.
Practice some breathing exercises outside on your front porch after a long day at work.
Take a Warm Bath with Essential Oils
Aromatherapy can serve as an awesome stress reliever.
Draw a warm bath and add a few drops of vetiver or lavender essential oils.
If you can avoid it, don't spend bath time shaving or washing your hair. Just sit back and relax, maybe with a good book.
Keep Your Living Space Clean
Not to go all Marie Kondo, but a clean living space really does wonders for improving your stress response and keeping cortisol at bay. (7)
When you spend ten minutes looking for your keys, that makes your stress levels rise.
Studies show that a home or workspace free of clutter can keep your mind efficient, stress-free, and productive too.
Write Down Your To-Do List for the Next Day
For many people, journaling is an important stress management technique.
If you aren't the kind of person who likes to jot down your general thoughts and emotions, at least consider writing down your to-do list on actual paper.
Buy a decent planner and schedule your week out ahead of time.
There's just something about planning your day hour-by-hour that lifts a huge weight off your shoulders.
Put the Electronics Away
Research shows that your cortisol levels and blood pressure rise when you spend too much time on social media. (8)
If you're feeling particularly stressed, you may want to even uninstall the entire app from your phone for a while.
Put the electronics down for a few hours before bed each night.
Take a few deep breaths, stretch, read a book, or talk with a good friend instead.
Brew Yourself a Cup of Tea
A cup of herbal tea (caffeine-free) like chamomile can help you unwind at the end of a long day.
Mushroom teas like reishi have special antioxidants which may also be useful for improving your body's stress response in the long-run.
Just make sure to drink your herbal tea at least two hours before bed so you don't have to get up to use the bathroom right after falling asleep.
Switch Out Your Lightbulbs
Part of learning how to unwind involves rethinking your living space.
You hear a lot about blue light emissions from your laptop and phone, but you may not realize that the bulbs in your home also blanket your living space in a blue hue.
Instead, choose bulbs with a yellowish tint for a relaxing feel.
You could even skip the lights entirely for some candles.
Do Something Creative
Having a creative outlet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Find yours and run with it!
Everyone is unique so explore some different activities to see what works. Writing, painting, sculpting, baking, woodworking -- take your pick!
The key is to spend time improving and expressing yourself without any barriers or expectations.
Get a Massage (or Give One to Yourself)
Studies show that massages are useful for reducing stress and cortisol levels. (9)
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to go for a massage every week or month.
Instead, get yourself a good foam roller and home massager.
Foam rolling is a great technique for stretching out soft tissue, removing tension, and even reducing stress.
You can find electronic shiatsu chair covers or handheld massagers. If not, your hands will work fine too!
How to Unwind: The Bottom Line
Does looking over this list make you feel even more stressed out?
Take things one step at a time.
Squeeze in a workout after work. Take a half-hour jog or walk outside at the end of the day.
The key to learning how to unwind is creating a balanced life -- not adding even more stress.